Tracking Trump’s criminal charges and lawsuits - and where they stand

Former president faces cases in Washington, Florida, New York and Georgia which could land him in prison. Josh Marcus explains each one

Thursday 02 November 2023 12:14 EDT
<p>Former US President Donald J. Trump speaks outside at Trump National Golf Club, in Bedminster, New Jersey,  USA, 13 June 2023</p>

Former US President Donald J. Trump speaks outside at Trump National Golf Club, in Bedminster, New Jersey, USA, 13 June 2023

Donald Trump has never been more vulnerable.

Without the privileges and prestige of the presidency to protect him, Mr Trump is facing serious lawsuits and criminal indictments across New York, Florida, Georgia and Washington.

Federal officials, local prosecutors, and individuals are going after him for everything from his private conduct to his political maneuvering during the 2020 election. If even just one of these efforts are successful, the US could see its first-ever former president in prison.

Here, The Independent explains each major case:

An election conspiracy case in Georgia

On 14 August, Mr Trump and 18 allies were charged in Georgia’s Fulton County for conspiring to subvert the state’s 2020 presidential election results.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Wallis began investigating the former president shortly after he left office in 2021. At the time, an infamous recording had just gone public of Mr Trump pressuring election officials to “find” him just enough votes to win him the state.

A grand jury empaneled by Ms Willis found that there was persuasive evidence that Mr Trump and 18 co-defendants, including high-profile lieutenants like Rudy Giuliani and former White House chief of staff, sought to tamper with the state’s election results through various schemes like coercing local officials and attempting to send a slate of false electors to Washington for the final Electoral College certification process.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis investigated Donald Trump for allegedly interfering in the state’s 2020 election results

Mr Trump personally faces 13 charges, including for violating the state’s RICO organised crime statute, and could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. He has denied wrongdoing.

The ex-president surrendered to authorities in Fulton County on the evening of 24 August where he was booked, processed and for the first time, received a mug shot.

He and his co-defendants were set to face arraignment on 6 September.

But on 31 August, Mr Trump entered a not guilty plea and waived his arraignment – in a move to avoid appearing in court where the judge had already granted cameras.

Georgia officials have proposed a 23 October 2023 trial date.

(Another) election conspiracy case in Washington, DC

Just two weeks before the Georgia charges dropped, Mr Trump was indicted on federal charges in Washington, DC, for allegedly trying to overthrow the 2020 election. The historic moment was the culmination of an investigation that began in November 2022 with the appointment of special counsel Jack Smith.

On 1 August, a grand jury approved an indictment accusing Mr Trump of conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an official proceeding, and deprivation of civil rights under colour of law, the latter charge using a post-Civil War law designed to prosecute the Klu Klux Klan.

The special counsel’s office alleges Donald Trump knew he lost the 2020 election, but conspiracy to stay in power anyway and encouraged the January 6 insurrection

The four-count indictment alleges Mr Trump and his allies knew they lost the 2020 election, but sought to hold onto power anyway. They did so, according to federal prosecutors, by pressuring officials to ignore the popular vote, organising slates of illegitimate electors, conducting sham Justice Department investigations into state election counts, coercing Vice President Mike Pence to reject certifying the legitimate election results, then fueling the mob of supporters who sacked the Capitol on January 6.

Mr Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed he was the victim of a political prosecution.

“This was never supposed to happen in America. This is the persecution of the person that’s leading by very, very substantial numbers in the Republican primary and leading Biden by a lot so if you can’t beat them you persecute them or prosecute ‘em,” he said on 3 August.

Judge Tanya Chutkan set his trial date to begin on 4 March 2024 in Washington DC despite Mr Trump’s team arguing they need until 2026 before going to trial.

A classified documents case in Florida

The charges in Washington followed another special counsel prosecution against Mr Trump in Florida.

On 8 June, a federal grand jury indicted Mr Trump on 37 charges for allegedly retaining classified national defence information after leaving the White House, then conspiring to obstruct justice and making false statements when federal officials sought to take back the official documents.

Stacks of boxes can be observed in a bathroom and shower in The Mar-a-Lago Club’s Lake Room at former US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida

Nearly two months later, on 28 July, federal prosecutors added three additional charges in the case, accusing Mr Trump and employees of his Mar-a-Lago estate of attempting to delete security footage pertaining to the documents so it couldn’t be used in a future investigation as evidence.

The indictments allege Mr Trump recklessly handled sensitive materials he had access to as president, storing classified files in the bathroom and shower at his Florida club. Mr Trump was also recorded at one of his New Jersey properties in 2021 appearing to brag about possessing a “highly confidential” Pentagon document regarding hypothetical battle plans against Iran.

The former president pleaded not guilty in early August. He will go on trial 20 May 2024.

A New York ‘catch and kill’ scheme involving hush money, porn stars, and tabloids

Mr Trump is also under scrutiny from local officials in New York.

On 30 March, a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict the former president for allegedly falsifying business records relating to hush money payments he made to porn actress Stormy Daniels to prevent her from revealing an alleged affair during the 2016 election.

Mr Trump faces 34 first-degree felony charges for allegedly working through his former attorney Michael Cohen and former National Enquirer David Pecker to “catch and kill” embarrassing stories, passing out hundreds of thousands of dollars to silence allegations of affairs and a child born out of wedlock, then allegedly falsifying records to conceal the payments.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom with his attorneys Joe Tacopina and Boris Epshteyn (R) during his arraignment at the Manhattan Criminal Court April 4, 2023 in New York City

“We cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to cover up criminal conduct,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is leading the prosecution, said in a statement.

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty to the indictment. The trial will begin 25 March 2024.

A finding that Trump raped E Jean Carroll

The hush money payments case wasn’t the only New York-centric legal battle Mr Trump faced this year.

On 9 May, a New York jury found him liable for the sexual abuse of E Jean Carroll.

In 2019, the longtime Elle magazine columnist accused Mr Trump of raping her in the dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York City in 1996, which the then-president denied.

Writer E Jean Carroll accused Donald Trump of raping her in a New York department store in the 1990s, but the ex-president has continued to deny any wrongdoing, even after a court decision affirmed the “substantial truth” of the incident.

The writer sued Mr Trump for defamation that year, and the Justice Department temporarily defended him, claiming his comments were part of his duties as president, though the DoJ ceased this defence in 2023. Ms Carroll later added a sexual battery charge against Mr Trump under a new New York law allowing survivors of sexual abuse to sue their abusers despite the statute of limitations.

The May verdict, which awarded Ms Carroll $5m, wasn’t the end of the matter, however. Though the jury found that Mr Trump was liable for sexually abusing Ms Carroll, it hadn’t technically found he had raped her.

In June, Mr Trump sued Ms Carroll for saying the New York businessman had in fact raped her. In an order made public on 7 August, federal judge Lewis Kaplan dismissed the former president’s counterclaim, finding that the original verdict “establishes against him the substantial truth of Ms Carroll’s ‘rape’ accusations.”

The former president is appealing the $5m verdict, while Ms Carroll is suing Mr Trump in a separate defamation action, after he criticised the original decision, denied ever meeting Carroll, and accused her once again of fabricating her rape allegation.

A $250m ‘art of the steal’ in New York

In September of 2022, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Mr Trump, his three eldest children, and their family company, the Trump Organization, alleging they produced fraudulent valuations of properties and Mr Trump’s personal finances to extract lending and insurance benefits.

New York officials are seeking to bar the Trump Organization from doing business in the state, alleging a wide-ranging pattern of fraud

The bombshell suit, which Ms James said is an attempt to hold Mr Trump accountable for perfecting the “art of the steal,” seeks a $250m penalty and sanctions that would effectively bar the Trump Organization from doing business in New York. In August of 2023, Ms James’s office said in a court filing the case was “ready for trial.”

The Trump Organization, as well as Donald, Eric, and Donald Trump, Jr, all deny wrongdoing, while allegations against Ivanka Trump were dropped in June of 2023 in a New York appeals court.

Incitement, confidentiality and a pyramid scheme

And those cases are just the beginning, Mr Trump is also implicated in a host of other legal battles.

In January, a case went to trial in a suit accusing Mr Trump and his eldest children of promoting a multi-level marketing scam called “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

This March, the Justice Department argued in federal appeals court that Mr Trump isn’t immune from a lawsuit by members of Congress and US Capitol Police officers accusing him of inciting the January 6 riots.

Mr Trump faces a lawsuit from members of Congress and the US Capitol police over allegedly ‘inciting’ the January 6 insurrection

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, meanwhile, is still pursuing an appeal against Mr Trump alleging he was arbitrarily sent back to prison from home confinement for speaking to the press and planning a tell-all book, though the case was dismissed in November.

Another suit, this one from Mr Trump against his niece Mary Trump, also remains ongoing. The former president accuses Ms Trump of breaching the confidentiality of a family estate settlement and with The New York Times on an expose into the former president’s taxes. In May, a judge dropped the newspaper from the suit.

Ariana Baio contributed to this report

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