Former President Donald Trump is running out of other people’s money to spend on his legal bills, which could total in the tens of millions of dollars if he takes all four of his criminal cases to trial.

His key fund has spent nearly all of the more than $150 million it raised, and is sitting on less than $4 million, according to the latest numbers available. He’s already dug into his fund for 2024 ads, and borrowed money to post bail in Georgia. And some of his allies are begging for donations, saying he won’t pony up.

White collar criminal defense attorneys who spoke to USA TODAY estimated his legal bills will total millions, if not tens of millions, largely because he is defending against four criminal cases, but also because of his notoriety.

Zachary Smith, who practices criminal defense about 40 miles from Atlanta, said Trump could spend $500,000 to $1.5 million on a local lawyer for his racketeering trial. He said the case could effectively shut down a small law firm for months while they take the case, and the firm would charge a premium based on Trump’s notoriety.

Danya Perry, a defense attorney and former federal prosecutor in New York, said a two- or three-week trial can easily cost $10 million. She highlighted the complexity and magnitude of the Fulton County case as particularly expensive.

Bruce Udolf, a former federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney in south Florida said elite lawyers may charge a flat fee whether or not they see the case to completion. Others may charge between $10,000 and $30,000 per day for trial. “I can’t see most top-level white collar lawyers doing it for less than $2 or $3 million,” he said.

There’s the question of how many lawyers Trump has at his side in the courtroom in each case, Udolf said, and the complexity of the law. Udolf said he has tried racketeering cases, and that the ”unwieldy” nature of the indictments can increase the length of the trial “exponentially.”

Sara Kropf, a partner at a small criminal defense firm in Washington, D.C., said the hourly rate for these types of lawyers at large firms in her area is around $2,000. In addition to paying them to go to trial, they need to go through discovery documents, filing pretrial motions, and preparing witnesses, she said.

“Easily, easily, within the millions of dollars,” Kropf said. “And that’s for each separate case. And we’re talking about four indictments. You’re easily in the tens of millions of dollars. It’s kind of staggering, honestly, to think about how much he would be spending.”

Is Trump broke?

Trump’s main account that pays for legal fees, Save America, doesn’t have that kind of money. It’s spent almost all of the $154.6 million it raised since the 2020 election and had $3.7 million in the bank at the end of June.

The PAC spent it biggest chunk of money, $60 million, making transfers to Trump’s 2024 campaign super PAC, Make America Great Again, Inc. But in May and June, as his legal entanglements grew, that super PAC refunded $12.3 million back to Save America. Without those transfers, Save America would’ve been in debt.

Save America has mostly been working with money it built up prior to Trump’s re-election declaration in November. Even though Trump’s campaign boasted raking in record amounts of money from his first two indictments in New York and Miami, records show that only $3.8 million of that went to Save America, while $33.1 million went to his presidential campaign.

During that same time period, Save America spent $21.6 million on legal expenses, the vast majority of the $38.4 million Save America has spent on that category since November 2020. And criminal defense lawyers haven’t been the only expenses for Save America.

Throughout 2022, Save America paid for lawyers for allies who testified in front of the House Jan. 6 Committee, like former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. It’s spent tens of millions more on travel, payroll for aides to Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump, event production, and attempts at putting election deniers in local office during the 2022 midterms.

Trump signaled to his followers that his legal fees were draining him in an Aug. 12 tweet on Truth Social. Without evidence, he accused President Joe Biden of using the legal system to prevent Trump from having the money to run advertisements against him. 

Make America Great Again, Inc. could transfer more money back to Save America; it ended June with $30.8 million. His official campaign account was sitting on another $22.5 million. However, transfers from either account would reduce his competitiveness in the Republican Primary.

The super PAC backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, running against Trump, ended June with $130.6 million, or about $100 million more than Make America Great Again, Inc.

Trump’s personal wealth has been hard to pin down over the years, but Forbes most recently estimated it at $2.5 billion. Most of the wealth was in real estate, and $425 million was cash.

Udolf said if Trump is as rich as he says he is, he shouldn’t have trouble paying from his own pockets.

“He says he’s a billionaire,” Udolf said of Trump. “If that’s the case, it’s certainly not going to be that much money.”

Codefendants beg Trump for money

Save America did not respond to a request for comment about whether it has the money for Trump’s defenses in Georgia, D.C., Miami and New York, or whether it was paying legal fees of Trump’s 18 codefendants in Georgia.  

Trump posted surety bonds totaling $200,000 in Georgia, according to records from the Fulton County Jail, meaning he sought the help of a bail bondsman to finance his release. Bail bondsmen typically require a defendant to put up 10% of the bond amount in cash, saving the person from shelling out the other 90%.

The vast majority of codefendants are hiring lawyers without previous relationships with Save America, according to a review of records from the Fulton County court and the Federal Election Commission.

Only the lawyers representing Mark Meadows in seeking to move the case to federal court come from a firm that has received money from Save America in the past. That firm is McGuireWoods LLP and received just under $900,000 through June 30. (Records do not indicate whose representation, if any, Save America was financing.)

Four are receiving help through the Christian crowdfunding platform GiveSendGo. They are John Eastman, the constitutional scholar who created a legal theory to help Trump claim victory; Jeff Clark, the acting attorney general Trump placed to help swing the election to him; lawyer Jenna Ellis who was involved in efforts in Pennsylvania; and fake elector Cathleen Latham.

Ellis, whose lawyer did not respond to a request for comment, has been promoting her GiveSendGo page on X, formerly known as Twitter, and asking if Trump would fund the codefendants’ legal expenses if he were to get the nomination. Prominent anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson has also promoted her page.  

“No word from Trump,” Johnson wrote. “Nothing to defend these people who worked so hard for him. Not a dime of his money to fund their defense. Nothing. He has thrown all of them under the bus to prop himself up.”