By Gabby Orr and Kristen Holmes, CNN
Donald Trump’s Save America PAC has been footing the legal bills for additional Trump aides and allies whom federal investigators have subpoenaed for grand jury testimony as part of investigations surrounding the former president, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
The political action committee has paid more than $120,000 to the Brand Woodward Law firm, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
The firm represents a number of Trump associates who have appeared before a grand jury in Washington, DC, or spoken with investigators as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into the handling of government documents seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate after he left the White House.
Save America has helped pay legal bills for Kash Patel, a Trump adviser who testified last month before the federal grand jury, and Walt Nauta, a former military aide in the Trump White House who has been interviewed by federal investigators about the former president’s retention of classified documents, one source said. Nauta is now an aide with the former president at his Palm Beach property, and his salary is paid by Trump’s leadership PAC.
A Patel spokesman said at the time of his grand jury appearance that “his testimony was compelled over his objection through the only legal means available to the government — a grant of limited immunity.” Nauta’s attorney, Stanley Woodward Jr. of the Brand Woodward firm, has declined to comment.
Another source familiar with the matter tells CNN that other key players in Trump’s orbit who are being represented by Brand Woodward include Will Russell and Beau Harrison. Save America has helped to cover some of their legal bills as well, another source said.
Last week, Russell and Harrison each appeared in front of a grand jury investigating the Mar-a-Lago document matter, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. Their attorney declined to comment at the time.
The firm declined to comment to CNN about the payments, which were first reported by The Washington Post. Stan Brand, a top lawyer at the firm, told the Post there is nothing wrong with Trump’s PAC paying legal bills for witnesses.
“There’s no bar against third parties paying for legal fees as long as it’s disclosed to the client. The ethical obligation of the lawyer is to the client,” Brand said. “This is a tempest in a teapot and another cheap shot at these people because of who they work for.”
But Ty Cobb, a former Trump White House attorney, said the arrangement could raise bias questions down the road for any Trump aides whose attorney fees have been covered by Save America PAC.
“There are ways this can be done legally. In fact, it’s a very common practice in corporate America for companies to pay for the outside legal expenses off employees who are called to testify in matters related to the company. But if can always be used on the stand to show bias,” Cobb said. “It’s a very common practice fraught with danger. Let’s say somebody testifies unfavorably for Trump and he cuts them off. That can be brought out at trial as evidence of bias.”
CNN previously reported that the Trump’s political committees have paid more than $2 million this year to a half dozen law firms whose attorneys have represented witnesses before the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection.
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CNN’s Shawna Mizelle contributed to this report.