Mr. Trump’s tendency to turn to the courts — and the legal issues that have stemmed from norm-breaking characteristics of his presidency — helps explain how he and his affiliated political entities have spent at least $58.4 million in donations on legal and compliance work since 2015, according to a tally by The New York Times and the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute.
By comparison, President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee spent $10.7 million on legal and compliance expenses during the equivalent period starting in 2007. President George W. Bush also spent much less, even taking into account his legal spending on the recount fight that went to the Supreme Court, records show.
The spending on behalf of Mr. Trump covers not only legal work that would be relatively routine for any president or candidate and some of the costs related to the Russia inquiry and his impeachment, but also cases in which he has a personal stake, including attempts to enforce nondisclosure agreements and protect his business interests.
Many of the bills being paid by donors to Mr. Trump and his party have come from the Republican National Committee’s “recount account.” It is a special fund created after 2014 when Congress — at the request of campaign finance lawyers and leaders of both parties — allowed much larger contributions by individuals to the political parties, totaling $106,500 per person, compared with the normal $2,800 limit.