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Trump Could Still Use Campaign Donations to Pay Himself Back for $36M Loan After Saying He Wouldn't

The federal filings also reinforce how Trump has excelled as a candidate while spending less than politicians in either party.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a fundraising event in Lawrenceville, New Jersey on May 19, 2016.Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AFP - Getty Images

Donald Trump insists he personally funded his primary campaign, but a new report filed by his presidential campaign tells a different story.

Trump has now spent a total of $43 million, according to his filing with the Federal Election Commission made available Saturday, and all of it is still structured as a loan to the campaign. That means he can be legally reimbursed for his spending, with new campaign donations, until August.

When NBC News reported on that option last week, Trump responded by saying he had "absolutely no intention of paying myself back for the nearly $50 million I have loaned the campaign."

He added that the loans were "a contribution," and aides told NBC News the campaign would soon convert the loans to donations.

The campaign's new report, required by federal election law, reveals that contrary to Trump's statement, his campaign continues to treat the money as a loan — not a contribution.

The campaign could convert any or all of the loans to a donation with the stroke of a pen.

Related: Trump Campaign Could Use New Donations to Pay Donald Trump $36M for Loan

Asked about the filing, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told NBC News that "there has been no change in position" since Trump's statement last week.

The campaign's new fundraisers, however, also appear to leave the door open to reimbursing Trump for his loans.

Trump is appearing at his first joint Republican National Committee fundraiser next week. According to an invite obtained by the Los Angeles Times, "the invitation notes the first $2,700 raised will go to Trump's primary campaign."


The campaign could spend all of the money it raises for the primary period without using any of it on loans for past spending.

The primary campaign is over, and the campaign's only outstanding loan debts are to Trump, not any other parties.

Related: Trump's Message on Super PACS Takes General Election Turn

When asked about that fundraising invitation on Friday, Hicks did not dispute its accuracy, and declined any further comment.

If Trump does use new donations to pay himself back for his primary campaign loans, the transaction should be visible in his future FEC filings during the general election.

Trump raised about $1.7 million in small contributions last month and had about $2.4 million cash on hand.

The federal filings also reinforce how Trump has excelled as a candidate while spending less than politicians in either party.

He has spent a third of the total expenditures of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton's campaign, and he his staff is about 10 percent the size of hers. Some of his largest costs in April were essentially unavoidable — travel, legal and ballot access — while he continues to spend far less on TV ads or polling than any nominee in the modern era.

Trump has bragged that he doesn't need pollsters to tell him what to say — although he did recently hire one for the general election — and that he doesn't need to buy TV ads when he gets so much airtime for free.