Taxpayers are footing the legal bill for at least 10 Justice Department lawyers and paralegals who are defending President Trump’s private businesses against lawsuits questioning the constitutionality of Trump profiting off of foreign governments and officials while in office, reports USA Today.
While the amount of money being paid by taxpayers is not known, government lawyers normally get between $133,000 and $185,000 when assigned to cases.
The taxpayer-funded legal team is defending President Trump in four lawsuits stemming from his decision not to divest himself from hundreds of his companies that are entangled with customers that include foreign governments and officials and are arguing that it’s not unconstitutional for the president’s private companies to earn profits from foreign governments and officials while he’s in office.
“We’ve never before had a president who was branded and it’s impossible to divorce from that brand,” said Stuart Gerson, who served as chief of the Justice Department’s civil division for 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.”
“In the emoluments cases, you’ve got the DOJ defending him on constitutional principles,” said William Weinstein, a New York attorney suing Trump in one of the foreign payments cases, according to USA Today.
“But their end goal is to let him keep his money and they’re defending his personal interests.”