President Trump has offered to foot the bill for members of his staff who are facing mounting legal fees related to the special counsel probe of Russia's election interference, according to White House lawyer Ty Cobb.
"The president has assumed responsibility for his own legal fees and while he isn't involved directly in the creation of a mechanism to take care of staffers, it is important to him that they be taken care of and whatever approach is agreed upon by [the Office of Government Ethics] and relevant tax authorities be bulletproof," Cobb told Bloomberg News in a report published Friday.
Trump's team of lawyers is weighing how to navigate several ethical questions related to a legal fund for West Wing staffers, including the question of whether aides would be less forthright while testifying if Trump were to cover their legal expenses.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has already interviewed several former and current Trump aides, including former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, ex-chief of staff Reince Priebus and National Security Council chief of staff Keith Kellogg. Other aides have been forced to retain legal representation ahead of time to prepare for their depositions.
According to Bloomberg, a single interview with Mueller or one of the congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election could cost more than $30,000 in legal fees.
"The problem is, it's very specialized representation, so it takes a certain type of attorney, and they're quite competent. And you'll pay for competency," Caputo had said in early September.
The Republican National Committee paid more than $200,000 to Trump's attorneys, Jay Sekulow and John Dowd, earlier this summer. But Cobb said Trump, who is worth an estimated $3 billion, has since taken on the costs himself.
If established, an official legal fund would not cover the legal expenses of transition officials who did not go on to serve inside the White House, Cobb said.