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Trump starts paying his own legal bills on Russia probe: attorneys

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President Donald Trump has begun paying his own legal bills related to the Russia investigation and will no longer use political donations to his reelection campaign or the Republican Party to cover the costs, his attorneys confirmed.

Trump defense lawyer John Dowd said that following payments by the Republican National Committee (RNC), the president began paying the bills and now wants to make the party “even.”

The expenses cover Trump’s personal lawyers working on special counsel Robert Mueller investigates possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in last year’s election, and whether Trump may have obstructed justice by firing Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, among other actions.

    Moscow has denied meddling in the U.S. election, and Trump has denied any collusion or obstruction.

The RNC did not respond to a request for comment.

The administration is also working with others to establish a fund for current and former staffers, Special White House counsel Ty Cobb said. Dowd said Don McGahn, the White House counsel, and campaign lawyer Ben Ginsberg of Jones Day are working to structure that fund, which would be subject to rules that prohibit staff from receiving gifts or pro bono legal service.

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The president is exempt from those rules, Dowd said.

“The geniuses are working on it,” Dowd said. “If it passes muster with the tax lawyers and accountants, then it has to pass muster with the Office of Government Ethics.”

He added, “The president is worried about staffers who have good lawyers and they can’t afford them.”

During former President Bill Clinton’s administration, private funds were raised to cover his own legal expenses related to the Whitewater investigation. Under former President George W. Bush, a legal fund was set up to help former staffer Lewis “Scooter” Libby, only after he had left White House employment.

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In August, Reuters first reported that the RNC was paying Trump’s legal bills, which amounted to more than $230,000 that month.

The payments were made to Trump’s outside legal team, which includes Dowd and Jay Sekulow.

Additionally, Trump’s reelection campaign paid more than $300,000 this year in bills to lawyers representing his son Donald Trump Jr., according to public disclosures filed by the campaign. The campaign did not respond to a request for comment whether it will continue to pay for Trump Jr’s legal expenses.

The U.S. Federal Election Commission allows use of private campaign funds to pay legal bills arising from being a candidate or elected official.

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While previous presidential campaigns have used these funds to pay for routine legal matters such as ballot access disputes and compliance requirements, Trump was the first U.S. president in the modern campaign finance era to use such funds to cover the costs of responding to a criminal probe, said election law experts.

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by David Gregorio)

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Sailing among the stars: Here’s how photons could revolutionize space flight

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A few days from now, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will lift off from Florida, carrying a satellite the size of a loaf of bread with nothing to power it but a huge polyester "solar sail."

It's been the stuff of scientists' dreams for decades but has only very recently become a reality.

The idea might sounds crazy: propelling a craft through the vacuum of space with no engine, no fuel, and no solar panels, but instead harnessing the momentum of packets of light energy known as photons -- in this case from our Sun.

The spacecraft to be launched on Monday, called LightSail 2, was developed by the Planetary Society, a US organization that promotes space exploration which was co-founded by the legendary astronomer Carl Sagan in 1980.

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Russians to prod Putin on poverty and his personal life as his ratings tank

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Russians are set to ask President Vladimir Putin about growing poverty at home and tensions abroad during an annual televised phone-in Thursday, which comes following a fall in his approval ratings.

The leader is also likely to face a degree of grilling on his personal life, according to questions submitted by the public online ahead of the live show.

Set to be held for the 17th time since Putin came to power in 1999, the show starts at 0900 GMT and usually lasts several hours.

Ahead of the carefully choreographed show, more than one million questions had been submitted, organisers told Russian news agencies.

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Trump could turn on Hope Hicks just like Michael Cohen: Trump family biographer warns

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Trump family biographer Emily Jane Fox explained that she didn't think that the president would turn on long-time aide Hope Hicks, but then again, it was the same thought about Michael Cohen as well.

In a panel discussion about Hicks' testimony during MSNBC's Brian Williams' Wednesday show, Fox recalled that Micahel Cohen once said that he would take a bullet for the president. Once it appeared that Trump would throw him under the bus, Cohen began looking for a way out.

The same scenario seems to be happening with Hicks now.

"She works at new Fox, which is a company run by a Murdoch son," Fox said. "It's a company that's brand new. She's the head of communications there. And there are shareholders who would take issue with the fact that a senior member of this company is being put in this situation and being thrust on the world stage."

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