Legal defense fund for Trump administration and campaign staff is now active

ABC News previously reported on the fund's use.

ByJohn Santucci and Katherine Faulders
February 27, 2018, 4:48 PM

— -- A legal defense fund, set up to support past and present members of the Trump administration and campaign staff with legal expenses incurred via investigations led by special counsel Robert Mueller or House and Senate committees, is now active.

The fund, “the Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust LLC,” was formally established as a limited liability corporation based in Delaware, according to a release.

As ABC News has previously reported, the fund will be used to provide financial support for any legal bills incurred by any individual who "was an employee, consultant, fundraised or volunteer" on behalf of President Trump’s campaign. The release also says there will be two separate accounts – one for government employees and one for non-government employees.

Tuesday’s release also says the fund will be managed temporarily by former Congresswoman Nan Hayworth. Hayworth is a former U.S. Representative from New York who will serve as the interim manager of the fund until a permanent manager is appointed.

The fund has been a long time coming for many who are currently incurring hefty legal expenses from the multiple probes into Russian collusion during the 2016 election. “The fund will help many of us that never anticipated being in this situation,” a former campaign official, who faces tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills and who believes they will benefit from the defense fund, told ABC News.

One person who won’t be benefitting from the fund, former national security adviser, former Lt. General Michael Flynn.

“General Flynn early on made a decision not to accept funds from President Trump, the Trump Organization, or the campaign, and has not accepted any funds from them,” a source has previously told ABC News. “And he does not expect to accept any funds from the new entity.”

The new legal defense fund got off the ground when the Trump campaign hired law firm Wiley Rein LLP for $10,000 to draft a proposal on how a fund would be established, according to FEC filings. A source with knowledge of the matter says the campaign will have no role in the day-to-day management or the funding of the project.

A source with knowledge of the fund told ABC News earlier this month that Wiley Rein worked in conjunction with the White House counsel’s office to ensure that any fund created would be able to contribute to the legal defense fees of current White House employees and comply with all legal and ethics concerns.

This is not the first time a legal defense fund has been established to aid members of a previous presidential administration or campaign in paying legal bills. Towards the end of the Bill Clinton administration, the “Clinton Legal Expense Trust” was established to aid Clinton staff who part of the Whitewater investigation, the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit and Congress’ impeachment inquiry and trial.

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