June 14, 2024
The notable legal clouds that continue to hang over Donald Trump



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CNN
 — 

Former President Donald Trump has been campaigning in between his many different court appearances for much of the year.

But his decision to attend the first day of his $250 million civil fraud trial in New York created another opportunity to appear on camera from inside a courtroom when the judge allowed photographers to document the moment before proceedings got underway.

Keeping track of the dizzying array of civil and criminal cases is a full-time job.

He is charged with crimes related to conduct:

  • Before his presidency – a hush money scheme that may have helped him win the White House in 2016.
  • During his presidency – his effort to stay in the White House by overturning the 2020 election.
  • After his presidency – his treatment of classified material and alleged attempts to hide it from the National Archives.

Trump denies any wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty in all of the criminal cases. He alleges a “witch hunt” against him. But each trial has its own distinct storyline to follow.

Here’s an updated list of developments in Trump’s very complicated set of court cases, beginning with the one playing out in Manhattan this week.

The civil fraud trial, unlike Trump’s multiple criminal indictments, does not carry the danger of a felony conviction and jail time, but it could very well cost him some of his most prized possessions, including Trump Tower.

New York Attorney General Letitia James brought the $250 million lawsuit in September 2022, alleging that Trump and his co-defendants committed repeated fraud in inflating assets on financial statements to get better terms on commercial real estate loans and insurance policies.

Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that Trump and his adult sons are liable for fraud for inflating the value of his golf courses, hotels and homes on financial statements to secure loans.

The trial portion of the case, playing out in court in Manhattan, will assess what damages will be levied against Trump and how Engoron’s decision to strip Trump of his New York business licenses will play out.

In May, a federal jury in Manhattan found Trump sexually abused former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll in a luxury department store dressing room in the mid-1990s and awarded her about $5 million.

A separate civil defamation lawsuit will only need to decide how much money Trump has to pay her. That case for January 15 – the same day Iowa Republicans will hold their caucuses, the first date on the presidential primary calendar.

In August, Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the aftermath of the 2020 election. The former president was arraigned in a Washington, DC, courtroom, where he pleaded not guilty.

The case is based in part on a scheme to create slates of fake electors in key states won by President Joe Biden.

In late September, Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected Trump’s request that she recuse herself from the case. Chutkan, a Barack Obama appointee, has overseen civil and criminal cases related to the January 6, 2021, insurrection and has repeatedly exceeded what prosecutors have requested for convicted rioters’ prison sentences.

Chutkan set the trial’s start date for March 4, 2024, the day before Super Tuesday, when the largest batch of presidential primaries will occur. The trial marks the first of Trump’s criminal cases expected to proceed.

Trump has been charged in Manhattan criminal court with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to his role in a hush money payment scheme involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels late in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The former president pleaded not guilty at his April arraignment in Manhattan.

Prosecutors, led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, accuse Trump of falsifying business records with the intent to conceal $130,000 in payments to Daniels made by former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen to guarantee her silence about an alleged affair.

Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels.

The trial was originally scheduled to begin in late March 2024, but Judge Juan Merchan has suggested the date could move. The next court date is scheduled for February.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is using racketeering violations to charge a broad criminal conspiracy against Trump and 18 others in their efforts to overturn Biden’s victory in Georgia.

The probe was launched in 2021 following Trump’s call that January with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the president pushed the Republican official to “find” votes to overturn the election results.

The August indictment also includes how Trump’s team allegedly misled state officials in Georgia; organized fake electors; harassed an election worker; and breached election equipment in rural Coffee County, Georgia.

One co-defendant, bail bondsman Scott Hall, has pleaded guilty to five counts in the case.

Fulton County prosecutors have signaled they could offer plea deals to other co-defendants.

Willis this week issued a subpoena to former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, a Trump ally, who in turn demanded an immunity deal in exchange for testimony.

Trial for two co-defendants is expected to begin this month and could last three to five months. A trial date has not been set for Trump, who has pleaded not guilty.

Federal criminal court in Florida: Mishandling classified material

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 37 federal charges brought by Smith over his alleged mishandling of classified documents. Smith added three additional counts in a superseding indictment.

The investigation centers on sensitive documents that Trump brought to his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida after his White House term ended in January 2021.

The National Archives, charged with collecting and sorting presidential material, has previously said that at least 15 boxes of White House records were recovered from Mar-a-Lago, including some classified records.

Trump was also caught on tape in a 2021 meeting in Bedminster, New Jersey, where the former president discussed holding secret documents he did not declassify.

Smith’s additional charges allege that Trump and his employees attempted to delete Mar-a-Lago security footage sought by the grand jury investigating the mishandling of the records.

Trial is not expected until May, after most presidential primaries have concluded.

There are other cases to note:

Trump’s namesake business, the Trump Organization, was convicted in December by a New York jury of tax fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records in what prosecutors say was a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities by failing to report and pay taxes on compensation provided to employees.

Manhattan prosecutors told a jury the case was about “greed and cheating,” laying out a scheme within the Trump Organization to pay high-level executives in perks such as luxury cars and apartments without paying taxes on them.

Former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty to his role in the tax scheme. He was released after serving four months in jail at Rikers Island.

Several members of the US Capitol Police and Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police are suing Trump, saying his words and actions incited the 2021 riot.

The various cases accuse Trump of directing assault and battery; aiding and abetting assault and battery; and violating Washington laws that prohibit the incitement of riots and disorderly conduct.

In August, Trump requested to put on hold the lawsuit related to the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, citing his various criminal trials. The estate of Sicknick, who died after responding to the attack on the Capitol, is suing two rioters involved in the attack and Trump for his alleged role in egging it on.

Other lawsuits have been put on hold while a federal appeals court considers whether Trump had absolute immunity as the sitting president.

Former top FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, who was fired in 2018 after the revelation that he criticized Trump in text messages, sued the Justice Department, alleging he was terminated improperly.

In summer 2017, former special counsel Robert Mueller removed Strzok from his team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election after an internal investigation revealed texts with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page that could be read as exhibiting political bias.

Strzok and Page were constant targets of verbal attacks by Trump and his allies, part of the larger ire the then-president expressed toward the FBI during the Russia investigation. Trump repeatedly and publicly called for Strzok’s ouster until he was fired in August 2018.

Trump is set to be deposed this month as part of the case, according to Politico.

A federal judge dismissed Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, several ex-FBI officials and more than two dozen other people and entities that he claims conspired to undermine his 2016 campaign with fabricated information tying him to Russia.

“What (Trump’s lawsuit) lacks in substance and legal support it seeks to substitute with length, hyperbole, and the settling of scores and grievances,” US District Judge Donald Middlebrooks wrote.

Trump appealed the decision, but Middlebrooks also ruled that the former president and his attorneys are liable for nearly $1 million in sanctions for bringing the case.

Trump launched a Hail Mary bid in July to revive the sprawling lawsuit, relying on a recent report from special counsel John Durham that criticized the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe.

Trump’s former lawyer Cohen sued Trump, former Attorney General William Barr and others, alleging they put him back in jail to prevent him from promoting his upcoming book while under home confinement.

Cohen was serving the remainder of his sentence for lying to Congress and campaign violations at home, due to Covid-19 concerns, when he started an anti-Trump social media campaign in summer 2020. Cohen said that he was sent back to prison in retaliation and that he spent 16 days in solitary confinement.

A federal judge threw out the lawsuit in November. District Judge Lewis Liman said he was empathetic to Cohen’s position but that Supreme Court precedent bars him from allowing the case to move forward.

Trump sued journalist Bob Woodward in January for alleged copyright violations, claiming Woodward released audio from their interviews without Trump’s consent.

Woodward and publisher Simon & Schuster said Trump’s case is without merit and moved for its dismissal.

Woodward conducted several interviews with Trump for his book “Rage,” published in September 2020. Woodward later released “The Trump Tapes,” an audiobook featuring eight hours of raw interviews with Trump interspersed with the author’s commentary.

Trump-filed lawsuits: The New York Times, Mary Trump and CNN

The former president is suing his niece and The New York Times in New York state court over the disclosure of his tax information.

A New York judge dismissed The New York Times from Trump’s lawsuit regarding disclosure of his tax returns and ordered Trump to pay the newspaper’s legal fees. Trump is still suing his niece Mary Trump for disclosure of the tax documents. She had tried to sue him for defrauding her out of millions after the death of his father, but the suit was dismissed.



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