Speed Reads

Things that make you go hmmm

Trump's private businesses are fighting to earn money from foreign governments, and taxpayers are footing the bill

Taxpayers are covering the six-figure salaries of at least 10 Justice Department lawyers and paralegals that are working on defenses of President Trump's private businesses, USA Today reports. Government lawyers are working on four lawsuits and making the case that it is not unconstitutional for Trump's businesses to earn money from foreign officials or governments while he is in the White House.

"We've never before had a president who was branded and it's impossible to divorce from that brand," argued Stuart Gerson, who served in the Justice Department under former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. "It's blurring the lines because it's so unusual. I can't think of a precedent where another civil division lawyer has been called on to defend the president under these circumstances."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has argued in Trump's defense: "It's the responsibility of the Department of Justice to defend the Office of the Presidency in carrying out its activities against charges that are not deemed meritorious," he recently said. "We believe that this is defensible and we've taken the position that our top lawyers' believe is justified."

While Trump is also using private attorneys to defend his businesses from the lawsuits, USA Today calls the "free government attorneys … a bargain," noting that private lawyers cost $500 to $1,000 in Washington, D.C. and New York. Of course, the government attorneys aren't free for taxpayers: There is not an official number from the government on what the legal teams cost, but payroll records put the range between $133,000 and $185,000 a piece.