How big are Donald Trump’s legal problems?

10 May, 2023 - 16:05 0 Views
How big are Donald Trump’s legal problems? How big-are Donal Trump's legal problems

The Sunday Mail

Donald Trump is under investigation for everything from his handling of top secret documents to alleged efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

And the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2024 has suffered a series of recent legal setbacks.

He became the first former president to face criminal charges – over an alleged hush money scheme – and was separately ordered to pay millions of dollars to a writer after being found liable for sexual abuse.

Here are the cases ahead that pose the most serious legal risks.


What’s being investigated?

New York is a hotbed of legal activity when it comes to Mr Trump.

He became the first former president to face criminal charges when he was indicted there following an investigation into a $130,000 payment to former adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Ms Daniels claims the pair had sex, something Mr Trump denies, and says she accepted the money from his former lawyer before the 2016 election in exchange for her silence.

Meanwhile, the business practices of his family company, the Trump Organization, are being examined by prosecutors in the state.

The New York attorney general is leading a civil investigation (which cannot result in criminal charges) and has spent years looking at whether the company committed various acts of fraud over several decades.

A criminal investigation is looking at similar issues.

What has Trump said?

Mr Trump described the indictment in the Stormy Daniels case as “political persecution” and said he did not expect a fair trial.

Separately, the former president and his lawyers have insisted the allegations against the Trump Organization are politically motivated.

So how serious is it?

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in the Stormy Daniels case. It is now heading to trial, which is likely to happen in February or March 2024.

The most likely outcome there is a fine.

The criminal investigation into the Trump Organization has already yielded convictions. The company was found guilty of fraud and falsifying business records and fined. Allen Weisselberg, the organisation’s chief financial officer, was sentenced to jail.

In the civil case, the attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Mr Trump and three of his children accusing them of “astounding” fraud and of inflating their net worth. It seeks $250m that was allegedly obtained through fraudulent means.

A trial in that case is scheduled for October.


What’s being investigated?

The Department of Justice is looking into the removal of government documents from the White House, which were then taken to Mr Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, after he left office. Investigators are assessing how these documents were stored and who may have had access to them.

The former president’s sprawling beachside property was searched in August and 11,000 documents were seized, including around 100 marked as classified. Some of these were labelled top secret.

Unsurprisingly, we know very little about what’s in the documents. But classified material usually contains information that officials feel could damage national security if made public.

What has Trump said?

He’s denied wrongdoing and criticised the justice department’s investigation, branding it “politically motivated” and a “witch-hunt”.

He has offered shifting defences which have mostly hinged on the argument that he declassified the material. No evidence has yet been provided that this is true.

The former president has also argued that some of the documents are protected by “privilege” – a legal concept that would prevent them from being used in future proceedings. An independent lawyer is reviewing the seized material to determine if this is the case.

But Mr Trump has not directly addressed the key question of why the documents were at Mar-a-Lago in the first place.

So how serious is it?

This is an active criminal investigation and could result in charges being filed.

Among other statutes, the justice department believes Mr Trump may have violated the Espionage Act by keeping national security information that “could be used to the injury of the United States”.

In addition to charges relating to the classified documents themselves, prosecutors are also looking at obstruction of justice as another potential crime.

The justice department has appointed an independent lawyer, or special counsel, to oversee all of its criminal investigations into Mr Trump. Jack Smith will lead its various inquiries and will ultimately decide whether to bring charges.


What’s being investigated?

Mr Trump’s alleged role in the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021, when a mob of his supporters stormed the building in an effort to stop the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s election victory, is under scrutiny from prosecutors.

A congressional committee spent 18 months looking into Mr Trump’s actions. They held a series of televised hearings laying out their case that his election fraud claims led directly to the riot.

Following these hearings, the committee accused Mr Trump of inciting insurrection and referred its findings to the justice department.

The department is running a criminal investigation into 6 January and broader efforts to overturn the election – but this has largely been shrouded in secrecy.

It’s the largest police investigation in US history, but the extent to which Mr Trump is a target is still unclear.

What has Trump said?

He’s denied responsibility for the riot and has continued to repeat his unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

So how serious is it?

It is up to the justice department to decide whether to file criminal charges, and its investigation has already led to hundreds of people who stormed the Capitol being charged.

The former president has not been called for questioning in that inquiry, but it remains a possibility.

He could – in theory – be charged if investigators believe there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing on his part.


What’s being investigated?

Prosecutors have been investigating whether Mr Trump and others acted illegally to try and and overturn his narrow loss in the state in 2020.

The criminal investigation was opened after the disclosure of an hour-long phone call between the former president and the state’s top election official on 2 January 2021.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes,” Mr Trump said during the call to Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger – a reference to the number of ballots needed to give him victory in the swing state.

A grand jury heard evidence for over eight months before filing a final report, which remains sealed.

What has Trump said?

He’s described the investigation – as he has many others – as a “witch hunt”.

He has also attacked the legal official leading the inquiry – the chief prosecutor of Fulton County, Fani Willis – as a “young, ambitious, Radical Left Democrat”.

So how serious is it?

“The allegations are very serious. If indicted and convicted, people are facing prison sentences,” Ms Willis told the Washington Post in September.

The 26-member grand jury did not have indictment powers but may have recommended charges. Among the potential crimes it looked into were the solicitation of election fraud, making false statements to government officials, and racketeering.

It is not known whether the former president is being directly investigated, but some of his allies are known to be part of the inquiry.

Ms Willis is expected to disclose whether Mr Trump and others will be charged this summer. – BBC




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