Advertisement

Trump doles out millions to lawyers: Here’s who’s getting the most

Former President Trump’s fundraising committees doled out cash to dozens of attorneys last year, a major expense for the Republican front-runner’s campaign as he stares down four criminal indictments and various civil lawsuits.

Trump’s groups spent roughly $50 million on legal consulting in 2023, including $30 million in the second half of the year, newly filed federal records show, reminiscent of how his campaign and legal woes are growing increasingly intertwined.

The records reveal how Trump has ponied up millions to lawyers attempting to get his 91 criminal charges tossed, while other top-paid lawyers have appeared in cases like the sweeping civil fraud trial brought by New York’s attorney general.

Trump even expensed to his leadership PAC $7,500 he paid to a bail bondsman last summer after being indicted in Georgia. It remains unclear if Trump paid any of his lawyers’ additional funds out of his pocket.

Here’s a look at the law firms that took in the most money from Trump’s political committees last year.

Chris Kise: $8.97 million

Chris Kise, a Florida-based lawyer who was once the state’s solicitor general, was Trump’s top-paid lawyer of 2023, bringing in nearly $9 million to his eponymous office, Chris Kise & Associates, and the law firm Continental PLLC.

Kise has served as Trump’s lead lawyer in the New York attorney general’s civil fraud case against the former president, which accuses him of falsely altering the value of the Trump Organization’s business assets for tax and insurance benefits.

As the primary trial lawyer, Kise repeatedly hammered in Trump’s core defenses — that banks wanted to work with the Trump Organization, did due diligence with his statements of financial condition and found no fraud.

He also fought against a gag order imposed by the judge barring Trump and his counsel from making comments about the judge’s staff, launching a separate legal matter to resolve the conflict.

Kise also represents Trump in the federal criminal case over his alleged mishandling of classified documents after leaving the White House, a matter that is going through federal court in Miami.

Clifford Robert: $5.29 million

Former President Donald Trump, second from left, sits at the defense table with his attorney's Christopher Kise, left, Alina Habba, second from right, and Clifford Robert at New York Supreme Court, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, Pool)
Former President Donald Trump, second from left, sits at the defense table with his attorney's Christopher Kise, left, Alina Habba, second from right, and Clifford Robert at New York Supreme Court, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, Pool)

Robert & Robert earned nearly $5.3 million for representing the Trumps and their business.

Clifford Robert, principal of the firm, represented Trump’s adult sons and other entities that are parties in the New York attorney general’s fraud case.

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, both executive vice presidents at the Trump Organization, were accused by the state of being complicit in allowing their father’s falsely altered financial statements to be sent to banks and insurers to secure loans and deals.

One of the trial’s stand-out moments came during Robert’s cross-examination of Michael Cohen, Trump’s ex-fixer and personal attorney. Cohen opened his testimony by telling the judge Trump directed him and another executive to “reverse engineer” Trump’s net worth to reach a number the former president liked.

But when questioned by Robert, Cohen backtracked.

“Mr. Trump never directed you to inflate the numbers in his personal statement. Yes or no?” Robert asked Cohen.

“Yes,” Cohen replied, later explaining his apparent contradiction by saying Trump’s attorneys were “cherry-picking” words in his testimony.


Top Stories from The Hill


In addition to defending the Trump sons, Robert handled several appeals throughout the trial, including that of the gag order. He also represented the Trump Organization for at least part of Cohen’s case against Trump’s business over unpaid legal fees. They settled that case in July for an undisclosed amount.

Harmeet Dhillon: $4.61 million

In early 2023, California attorney Harmeet Dhillon unsuccessfully attempted to challenge Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel.

Dhillon’s firm in the months since has become one of the top-paid firms by Trump’s entities, including working for the former president as he defends against various efforts to take him off the ballot under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection ban. Dhillon’s firm is part of the legal team that will represent Trump at the Supreme Court next week for oral arguments about the former president’s ballot eligibility.

The firm also represented Trump in Stormy Daniels’s failed defamation suit against the former president, winning more than $600,000 in attorney fee awards as of April and has also worked for Trump in multiple other civil lawsuits.

Alina Habba: $4.03 million

Trump’s entities paid Habba Madaio & Associates more than $4 million in 2023, the records show.

Alina Habba, the firm’s managing partner, represents Trump in multiple of his cases and also serves as the former president’s legal spokesperson.

Along with fellow partner Michael Madaio, the firm represented Trump in his two civil trials brought by longtime advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s.

Carroll won a $5 million verdict last spring over the alleged sexual assault itself and defamation, and on Friday, she won an additional whopping $83.3 million over additional defamation claims. Trump is appealing both verdicts and has said he is shopping around for new lawyers to handle the matters.

Habba is also an attorney in the New York civil fraud case.

Like the others, most of the funds disbursed to Habba’s firm came from Save America, Trump’s leadership PAC. But Habba’s firm also received about $265,000 from Make America Great Again, Inc., a super PAC supporting Trump.

John Lauro: $2.65 million

John Lauro, plus lawyers Greg Singer and Filzah Pavalon, received some $2.65 million for defending the former president against federal charges he sought to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump’s primary advocate in the Washington, D.C., courtroom, Lauro has already butted heads with U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who on numerous occasions told him to “take the temperature down” during early courtroom arguments over the case.

Lauro has also championed Trump outside the courtroom in media interviews, though sometimes tapering the former president’s zealous social media promises.

After Trump said his counsel was “immediately asking for recusal” of Chutkan, Lauro appeared on a podcast to proclaim “we haven’t made a final decision on that issue at all.” Trump’s D.C. legal team eventually requested Chutkan’s recusal, which she denied.

Evan Corcoran: $2.63 million

Attorney Evan Corcoran played a central role as special counsel Jack Smith investigated the former president over his handling of classified documents after leaving office.

Corcoran was part of the team that responded to a subpoena for classified records at Mar-a-Lago last year, and he reportedly told authorities he was waved off of searching Trump’s office, where numerous classified records were eventually found when officials executed a search warrant.

Corcoran removed himself as Trump’s lawyer in the case after a judge pierced attorney-client privilege by determining that Trump may have misled Corcoran, enabling prosecutors to receive Corcoran’s notes from the time.

Corcoran’s firm, Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White, received $2.63 million from Save America last year, federal election records show. All of the payments were made in the first half of the year, before Trump was indicted in the case.

Todd Blanche: $2.33 million

Within months, white-collar attorney Todd Blanche became one of the top lawyers helping Trump defend against his historic criminal charges.

Just as Trump was hit with his first indictment, a hush money probe into payments made to Stormy Daniels, Blanche left his firm, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, and began representing the former president alongside attorney Emil Bove.

Beyond the hush money case, the duo has since come to represent Trump in his federal 2020 election subversion indictment and his classified documents indictment.

Save America disbursed about $345,000 to Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft before doling out more than $2.32 million to Blanche Law later in the year.

Joe Tacopina: $1.77 million

Joe Tacopina, Donald Trump's lawyer, arrives in Manhattan federal court in New York, Tuesday, May 9, 2023. A jury in New York City is set to begin deliberations in a civil trial over advice columnist E. Jean Carroll's claims that Trump raped her in a luxury Manhattan department store. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Joe Tacopina, Donald Trump's lawyer, arrives in Manhattan federal court in New York, Tuesday, May 9, 2023. A jury in New York City is set to begin deliberations in a civil trial over advice columnist E. Jean Carroll's claims that Trump raped her in a luxury Manhattan department store. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New York-based trial lawyer Joe Tacopina’s firm, Tacopina, Seigel & DeOreo, took in about $1.77 million last year as he also represented Trump in the hush money indictment and one of the cases brought by Carroll, the advice columnist.

A former Brooklyn prosecutor, Tacopina has a reputation for cultivating high-profile clients and added the former president to a list that includes Michael Jackson and Alex Rodriguez. Just after the new year, however, Tacopina withdrew from Trump’s legal team without explanation.

Steve Sadow: $1.52 million

Hours before he surrendered to authorities in Georgia upon being indicted in that election interference case, Trump shook up his legal team in the case and hired Atlanta-based defense attorney Steve Sadow to replace another attorney.

Sadow, known for wearing his signature alligator boots to court, previously represented high-profile clients like radio host Howard Stern and former NFL player Ray Lewis.

Trump’s Save America made $500,000 payments to Sadow for each of the first three months he was on the team, the records show. Save America later disbursed an additional $16,456 just before Christmas.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.