All the lawsuits and criminal charges involving Trump and where they stand

11 months ago 21

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Since leaving the White House, Donald Trump has continued to face a cloud of lawsuits and investigations, which could frustrate his hopes to win back the presidency in 2024.

The latest development in a long list of scandals came on 18 July the former president said he had received a letter stating that he’s a target in the federal probe into his efforts to remain in office despite losing the 2020 election, including any role he may have had in inciting the insurrection on January 6, 2021, for which he was impeached but not convicted in the senate trial.

A letter of that type tends to be a sign that an indictment is coming but any possible charges will take months to go through the judicial process.

On 13 June, Mr Trump became the first current or former US president ever charged with a federal crime.

That afternoon, Mr Trump was arrested and arraigned at a Miami federal courthouse where he pleaded not guilty to all 37 federal charges over his handling of classified documents, including national defence information, after leaving the White House.

The indictment, which was unsealed on 9 June, alleges that Mr Trump deliberately lied to and misled authorities so that he could hold onto documents that he knew were classified, and also showed them to other unauthorised people.

The former president first announced the indictment on Truth Social on 8 June, fuming: “The corrupt Biden Administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax.

“I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former President of the United States.”

In fact, Mr Trump did know this was possible. Less than two months ago, he became the first former or current president to face criminal charges when a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict him on criminal charges over the hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the days before the 2016 presidential election. He pleaded not guilty in that case.

Legal battles are nothing new for the real estate tycoon.

Lawsuits and investigations hung over Mr Trump throughout his business career and then his political one, including actions like the bombshell $250m lawsuit from New York attorney general Letitia James against Mr Trump and three of his children for a host of allegedly fraudulent business practices, a suit which joins an estimated 4,000 cases Mr Trump has faced in his lifetime.

Here’s what you need to know about all the major investigations and lawsuits against Donald Trump:

The Capitol riots and the 2020 election

Demonstrators loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The president faces a number of lawsuits relating to his conduct during the 2020 election — and especially on 6 January, the day a mob of pro-Trump supporters attacked the Capitol after a fiery speech from the recently defeated president.

In February of 2021, congressman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, sued the president for allegedly inciting the riot, alongside his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani and right-wing extremist groups. In March of that year, California Democrat Eric Swalwell filed a similar suit, which also included Donald Trump Jr, the ex-president’s son, and Alabama congressman Mo Brooks. 

Mr Thompson dropped his suit in July 2021 as the January 6 committee process was heating up, but Mr Swalwell’s remains ongoing.

In July 2022, Mr Trump’s lawyers argued he can’t be sued for his alleged role in inciting the Capitol riots, claiming he has immunity from civil lawsuits related to his work as president. They said his January 6 speech urging supporters to march on the Capitol and trashing the 2020 election results was part of “an open discussion and debate about the integrity of the 2020 election”.

Jason Miller, a Trump senior adviser, said in response to the suits that the president “did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on Jan 6”.

In December 2022, Mr Trump’s team told a federal appeals court he should be immune from the multiple January 6 civil suits he faces, with attorneys describing Mr Trump’s actions that day as being protected activity using the president’s traditional “bully pulpit” to make public commentary.

District of Columbia attorney general Karl Racine has said he is collaborating with federal prosecutors and investigating whether Mr Trump’s role in the riots violated any DC  laws, though no charges have been filed. The DC official has launched a suit against militia groups who were present on January 6.

Prosecutors in Fulton County, meanwhile, have focused on Mr Trump’s conduct before the riots, such as the now infamous tape of Mr Trump urging Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger, a Republican, to “find” just enough votes to overturn the state’s election results, as well as a scheme to send unauthorised electors to cast Georgia’s Electoral College votes.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis hasn’t charged Mr Trump with any crimes thus far but has subpoenaed many of his top advisers.

In January of 2023, a grand jury empanelled in the Georgia investigation concluded its work, leaving a potential charging decision in the hands of local prosecutors. A decision on whether or not to indict Mr Trump or his allies is expected to come later this summer.

Mr Trump has continued to defend his call with Mr Raffensberger as “perfect” and claim falsely that the Georgia election results were fraudulent.

The Legal Defense Fund is also suing Mr Trump over the election, accusing him, his campaign, and the Republican National Committee of attempting to overturn the election, in violation of the Voting Rights Act and Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan Act. The NAACP, meanwhile, is also representing members of Congress in their own suit against the president. In November of 2022, a federal court ruled in favour of the NAACP, allowing it to file an amended complaint against the former president.

At the end of March 2021, two Capitol police officers also filed a suit against Mr Trump for damages over the “physical and emotional injuries” they suffered during and after the riot. James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby are seeking compensation in excess of $75,000 plus interest and costs each. Last February, a federal court found Mr Trump wasn’t immune from litigation in relation to their suits. That summer, a federal judge allowed three other lawsuits, from members of the US Capitol and DC Metropolitan police forces, to move forward on similar grounds.

Finally, in January of 2023, Mr Trump was hit with yet another lawsuit, from the longtime partner of former Washington police officer Brian Sicknick, who died after he sustained injuries on January 6.

Also in January, a judge refused to toss a suit from a group of US Capitol police officers who say Mr Trump and others violated federal law and fuelled the January 6 riot.

The January 6 committee, which concluded its work at the end of 2022, recommended Mr Trump face criminal charges.

On 18 July, Mr Trump shared a lengthy statement on Truth Social:

He said in part that “Deranged Jack Smith, the prosecutor with Joe Biden’s DOJ, sent a letter (again, it was Sunday night!) stating that I am a TARGET of the January 6th Grand Jury investigation, and giving me a very short 4 days to report to the Grand Jury, which almost always means an Arrest and Indictment”.

The former president has repeatedly characterised the multiple investigations against him, including the January 6 probe, as a politically motivated “hoax” and an attempt to “steal” the 2024 election from him.

On 23 July, Mr Trump published several posts on his social network Truth Social, once again calling the special prosecutor “deranged”.

He claimed that investigations into him were a “coordinated HOAX,” pointing to the probe into allegations of collusion between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russia.

Mr Trump also went after President Joe Biden, claiming without providing evidence that he’s a “criminal” before going on to call him “the most corrupt and incompetent President in United States history”.

“Get smart, Republicans, they are trying to steal the Election from you!” he wrote before referring to Democrats and federal and state prosecutors as “monsters” who are “destroying our country”.

A third indictment of Mr Trump now appears likely. Mr Trump may be charged for his attempts to obstruct the congressional proceedings in relation to January 6, for possible fraud in connection to fundraising, as well as the attempts to recruit fake electors in states that he lost by small margins.

On 18 July, the authorities in Michigan charged 16 people in the fake elector effort.

There’s little public information about what the prosecutors are focusing on, but the letter to Mr Trump pointed to statutes such as a possible charge of conspiracy to defraud the US and a wider charge in connection to a rights violation.

Classified documents inquiry

A photo published by the U.S. Justice Department in their charging document against former U.S. President Donald Trump shows boxes of documents stored in a bathroom at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida in early 2021

(Justice Department via REUTERS)

Mr Trump has been charged with a 37-count indictment stemming from an investigation by the Department of Justice, led by special counsel Jack Smith, into his handling of classified documents.

In August, officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seized 33 boxes of documents from Mr Trump’s Florida home, of which approximately 100 contained classification markings including top secret and secret.

The search was prompted after months of attempts by the National Archive to retrieve documents that Mr Trump took with him after leaving office in 2021.

For more than a year, Mr Trump avoided the federal government’s requests and subpoenas to obtain documents subject to the Presidential Records Act. Prior to the search, the former president turned over 15 boxes of records which prompted a Justice Department investigation.

He’s gone as far as to claim that he declassified the material found at Mar-a-Lago when he was president, claiming that he could declassify materials “by thinking about it.”

Mr Smith’s investigation sought to answer the question if Mr Trump knowingly kept the classified documents and if he later obstructed the federal government’s effort to obtain them.

According to one report from CNN, Mr Trump was allegedly captured on recording acknowledging that he kept a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran.

Mr Trump hinted that an indictment could come soon on 7 June following a report by The Independent that prosecutors were seeking obstruction and Espionage Act charges. The following day, he confirmed his indictment.

In addition to an incredulous Truth Social post, the former president sent out a fundraising email just after 7.30pm.

“We are watching our Republic DIE before our very eyes,” the email stated. “The Biden-appointed Special Counsel has INDICTED me in yet another witch hunt regarding documents that I had the RIGHT to declassify as President of the United States.”

Mr Trump called the indictment “nothing but a disgusting act of Election Interference” as he asked supporters to “make a contribution to peacefully stand” with him.

The following day, the 49-page indictment was unsealed. The 37 counts include willful retention of national defence information, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document or record, concealing a document in a federal investigation, scheme to conceal, and false statements and representations.

It alleges that Mr Trump kept highly-classified information in his bathroom, in storerooms, in a bedroom and on a stage in the Mar-a-Lago ballroom.

He allegedly showed the materials to unauthorised persons on two separate occasions.

Sexual harassment

E. Jean Carroll pictured arriving at Manhattan federal court, Tuesday, May 9, 2023

(Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The former president was found liable by a Manhattan jury in May 2023 for the sexual abuse of former Elle magazine columnist E Jean Carroll. The author accused the president of raping her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s, and sued Mr Trump has said she was “totally lying” about the allegation, prompting a defamation suit.

The trial in the defamation suit took place in April, with a verdict being reached in early May. Mr Trump was found liable for the sexual abuse of Ms Carroll — but not rape — and for defaming her. Trump is appealing the ruling.

Just one day later Trump attacked Carroll again with remarks at a CNN town hall, doubling down on his previous defamatory comments.

An amended lawsuit has now been filed by Ms Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan to include the remarks made on CNN.

“He doubled down on his prior defamatory statements, asserting to an audience all too ready to cheer him on that ‘I never met this woman. I never saw this woman,’ that he did not sexually assault Carroll, and that her account — which had just been validated by a jury of Trump’s peers one day before — was a ‘fake,’ ‘made up story’ invented by a ‘whack job’,” the proposed amended lawsuit states.

“Those statements resulted in enthusiastic cheers and applause from the audience on live TV,” the suit adds.

In response to that, Mr Trump took to Truth Social on 23 May to launch a fresh attack on Ms Carroll.

The Stormy Daniels scandal

Stormy Daniels is at the center of another case against Trump

(Screenshot / TalkTV)

The former president’s sprawling business empire is another target for legal action. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R Vance, Jr, a Democrat, led a criminal investigation against Mr Trump for more than a year over hush money payments to women accusing him of affairs during the presidential campaigns, as well as potential fraud relating to allegedly selectively devaluing and inflating the value of his business’s assets for tax and loan benefits.

At the end of 2021, Mr Vance left office, but the investigation continued under his successor Alvin Bragg.

His office had been investigating whether Mr Trump falsified the Trump Organization’s business records when his former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen made a payment of $130,000 to Ms Daniels days before the 2016 election. Prosecutors (as well as Ms Daniels, and Mr Cohen) claim that the money was used in an attempt to silence Ms Daniels about an alleged affair she had with Mr Trump.

Mr Trump has long denied having an affair with the adult film star, but not the payments themselves.

Cohen, Mr Trump’s former fixer and personal attorney, pleaded guilty to tax evasion lying to Congress and campaign finance violations related to the payments to Ms Daniels in 2018. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

The Manhattan DA’s Office began presenting evidence to a grand jury in January, and both Cohen and Ms Daniels testified. Prosecutors also offered Mr Trump the chance to appear before the grand jury though he declined.

On 30 March 2023, a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict the former president on criminal charges – making Mr Trump the first current or former US president to ever face criminal charges. He was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, pleading not guilty to all charges.

That night, Mr Trump railed against the charges, Mr Bragg and the judge in his case in a primetime address at Mar-a-Lago. It marks the first criminal probe in which Mr Trump has been charged.

Fraud cases

Perhaps the most consequential legal threat of all comes from New York Attorney General Letitia James.

On 21 September 2022, she filed a bombshell $250m lawsuit against Mr Trump and three of his children, accusing them of perpetrating “the art of the steal” through a litany of fraudulent business practices the AG’s office has been investigating for years. (Mr Trump has called the suit a politically driven “witch hunt” and denied any wrongdoing.)

The attorney general’s findings have also been referred to federal prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service, Ms James said.

The probe won a major victory when a former federal court judge was appointed to monitor parts of the Trump Organization’s financial activities while the case plays out.

A tentative trial date in the New York suit is set for the beginning of October, according to USA Today.

Alan Garten, general counsel for the Trump Organization, has previously said all Trump business practices were above board.

“Everything was done in strict compliance with applicable law and under the advice of counsel and tax experts.” he previously told the New York Times. “All applicable taxes were paid and no party received any undue benefit,” he added.

But that assertion was thrown directly into question in January, when the Trump Organization was fined $1.6m for tax fraud in what New York prosecutors described as a tax scheme that stretched more than a decade between 2005 and 2018.

And there’s one more: A trial is expected to begin in January 2024 in a suit alleging Mr Trump used the Celebrity Apprentice TV show to promote multi-level marketing schemes.

A group of anonymous people filed a class-action suit against the Trump family and business in 2018 arguing they used the Trump brand to scam investors into paying for worthless business ventures. Mr Trump is appealing the suit after previously trying to force it into arbitration. In March of 2022, Mr Trump and his two sons agreed to be deposed in the suit.

Parallel to all of these cases is yet another look into Mr Trump’s business practices.

In October 2021, the Westchester District Attorney’s Office in New York launched an investigation into financial irregularities surrounding Mr Trump’s golf course in the area, which remained ongoing as of August 2022.

Other suits and potential Cases

In January of 2023, a Texas man named John Anthony Castro filed a suit against Mr Trump, seeking to have him declared ineligible to seek the White House under the 14th Amendment, which bars those who have participated in insurrections from holding office. Mr Castro, a relative unknown on the national stage, is running for president himself.

Mr Trump’s real estate empire has attracted other cases as well: a Washington Post analysis found that numerous pending suits relate to his properties, ranging from slip-and-fall lawsuits, to allegations of bed bugs at a Las Vegas hotel, to former and current tenants who say the Trumps schemed them with phony rent invoices.

There are also a number of simmering legal questions that could turn into future cases, such as suits against those involved in the Capitol riots that could name the ex-president.

How’s he going to pay for all of this?

While Mr Trump’s business may have taken a $700m hit since he was president, he remains a wealthy man, and a recently formed post-presidential Trump political action committee raised more than $31m, which he could use for his surely enormous legal expenses.

The Trump Organization, Congressman Mo Brooks, Rudy Giuliani, and the RNC did not respond to a request for comment from The Independent.

This article was amended on 1 April, 2023 to clarify that the Legal Defense Fund and the NAACP are separate entities, both with suits against Donald Trump. It was updated on 14 June following Mr Trump’s arrest on federal charges and on 19 July after the former president said he had received a letter regarding the probe into the 2020 election and the insurrection.

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