New report suggests Trump is using campaign funds to line his own pockets
President Donald Trump. (AFP/File / Brendan Smialowski)

President Donald Trump's re-election campaign is spending a hefty sum of money to rent space in his own Manhattan building, the HuffPost reported Monday, but it's not clear if there's any real reason for the expenditure — other than to line the president's own pockets.

The Trump Tower space where the campaign is reportedly spending $37,500 a month, is currently in dire financial straits as it struggles to find tenants, the report said. Under such conditions, it certainly doesn't hurt if the owner has a donor-funded campaign that he can order to direct funds to the property.

But is the expense actually justified? The report explained:

No more than “four or five” campaign staffers work at Trump’s Manhattan base, according to an informal adviser close to the White House, where the campaign rents a few thousand square feet as its “headquarters.” The per-square-foot cost is likely at least triple what the Republican National Committee pays for the much larger space it shares with the campaign in Arlington, according to a HuffPost analysis.

It added that, according to an anonymous source, the biggest obvious benefit to keeping the space when staffers could be working out of Arlington is that it helps Trump financially,

So is it legal? Maybe not, but like so many things Trump does, it may be the kind of legal violation that is easy to get away with:

Erin Chlopak, once an FEC attorney and now with the Campaign Legal Center advocacy group, said Trump’s use of campaign money for his personal benefit might be illegal ― if it can be proven that the Trump Tower office is not serving any legitimate campaign purpose.

Absent such proof, though, even such “shady” behavior may be permissible, she said. “Campaigns do have a fair amount of leeway to determine how much space they need and how much to spend for it.”