Donald Trump, the former President of the United States, is not unfamiliar with legal troubles.
His entire career was marked by litigations regarding contract disputes, tax issues and employment issues.. Trump’s departure from the White House has brought about a variety of criminal and civil investigations. Officials are investigating everything, including his mishandling classified information, to his involvement in the Capitol Riot on January 6, 2021.
Trump contemplates whether to run in the 2020 presidential election. However, there are many legal hurdles. These could have serious consequences. He may be subject to financial and criminal penalties. Trump denies any wrongdoing.
Here’s what to know about the major ongoing investigations into former President Trump.
Federal investigation into classified documents
On August 8, the FBI carried out an unprecedented search of Trump’s residence at his Mar-a-Lago beach club in Palm Beach, Florida to find classified documents it believed he had taken from the White House. On August 26th, the Justice Department released a heavily redacted copy of the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant, which stated that the federal government has launched a criminal investigation into the “improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces, as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of recruitment records.”
The affidavit stated that the investigation began as the result of a tip from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in February, informing the Justice Department that they had received 15 boxes of records on January 18 from Trump’s office in Mar-a-Lago. The boxes were reported by NARA to contain “highly classified documents,” per the affidavit. The Justice Department then opened a criminal investigation to determine how such documents were removed from the White House and came to be stored at Mar-a-Lago, per the affidavit, which also stated that the Justice Department had “probable cause to believe” that additional classified documents were still at Mar-a-Lago.
On Aug. 8, the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago and removed eleven more sets classified documents. Washington Post reported that a document describing a foreign government’s nuclear capabilities was found by federal officers, as well as other documents detailing top-secret U.S. operations so “closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them.” Over 10,000 documents without classification markings were also taken, according to unsealed court documents.
CNN and The New York Times have both reported that back in June, at least one of Trump’s attorneys signed a letter stating there were no more classified documents with Mar-a-Lago— which could potentially open Trump up to more legal liability if his legal counsel misled federal authorities. The New York Times reported that on August 16th, the New York TimesAccording to reports, the FBI interviewed Pat Cipollone (ex-White House counsel) and Patrick Philbin (ex-deputy White House counsel) in connection with the seize documents.
One month after the search, on September 5, a federal judge in Florida approved Trump’s request to appoint a “special master” to evaluate the seized materials and blocked federal prosecutors from reviewing the materials until the special master had finished their review. In a wide-reaching ruling, Judge Aileen M. Cannon of the Southern District of Florida—who was appointed by Trump—said that the special master would be directed to “to review the seized property, manage assertions of privilege and make recommendations thereon, and evaluate claims for return of property.” That would include the power to evaluate documents that are not only subject to attorney-client privilege, but also could be shielded under executive privilege from Trump’s time as president. The special master’s document review could slow down the investigation by some weeks.
On September 8, the Department of Justice appealed Judge Cannon’s decision to appoint the special master, and on Sept. 12, Trump’s team urged Cannon to keep the special master in place and continue blocking the FBI’s review of the documents until the special master’s work is complete. While the appeal is evaluated, both Trump’s team and the Department of Justice submitted their candidates for the special master role by the judge’s deadline on Sept. 9. The Associated Press reports that the Justice Department proposed Oct. 17 as a deadline for the review to be completed, while Trump’s team said the review could take up to three months.
Trump’s lawyer Lindsey Halligan did not respond to a request for comment.
Investigations into Trump’s alleged actions surrounding January 6
Numerous investigations into Trump’s alleged actions surrounding the Jan. 6 riot are underway, probing whether he violated the law in his alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election or instigate the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Washington, DC is the scene in July Post reported that the Justice Department has begun investigating Trump as part of its criminal probe into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including alleged efforts by Trump’s circle to have GOP officials in certain states submit “alternate” slates of electors for the Electoral College vote count.
According to PostTwo top aides of former Vice President Mike Pence were questioned by federal prosecutors before a grand jury. They also asked about their conversations with former President Mike Pence and his legal counsel. ABC News reported that Pat Cipollone was also subpoenaed by the grand jury.
Trump’s lawyers M. Evan Corcoran and John Rowley did not respond to a request for comment.
A House Select Committee is also conducting an ongoing investigation into January 6— though it is not conducting a criminal investigation, instead tasked with writing a detailed account of what happened and presenting recommendations to prevent such an event from repeating. (On May 6, the New York Times TimesAccording to reports, the Justice Department asked the House Committee for the transcripts of all interviews it had conducted for the criminal investigation into January 6. Eight blockbuster hearings were held by the House Committee this summer, and at least two additional will be held in September.
House Republican committee member Adam Kinzinger told TIME in July that he believed the committee had uncovered “various criminal acts,” even if that wasn’t its initial goal. When asked if he thinks the panel should make a criminal referral to the Justice Department, Kinzinger responded that he believed that they needed to “finish our investigation before we start doing that.”
Meanwhile, in Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has launched a criminal investigation surrounding Trump’s alleged actions during the 2020 election. Washington Post reported that Trump had called Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on January 2 and urged him to “find 11,780” votes in the state. Willis, whose jurisdiction covers most of Atlanta, launched her investigation days after the news broke, and her probe’s scope has broadened over the past year and a half. The investigation was launched by Willis, whose jurisdiction includes most of Atlanta. Her probe’s scope has expanded over the past year and a half. PostAccording to reports, 26 individuals were selected to join a special grand jury investigating potential attempts to reverse the results of the Georgia 2020 elections. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani testified before the jury on August 17. (Giuliani’s lawyer declined to comment on the proceedings.)
“The young, ambitious, Radical Left Democrat ‘Prosecutor’ from Georgia, who is presiding over one of the most Crime Ridden and Corrupt places in the USA, Fulton County, has put together a Grand Jury to investigate an absolutely ‘PERFECT’ phone call to the Secretary of State,” Trump wrote on TRUTH Social this summer.
Trump’s lawyer Drew Findling did not respond to a request for comment.
Manhattan DA’s criminal probe into the Trump Organization
In New York, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is conducting its own criminal probe into Trump’s business dealings, specifically into whether Trump’s family business or Trump himself misled potential lenders by inflating the value of his assets.
In 2020, former Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance initiated the investigation. In July 2021, prosecutors charged the Trump Organization with a 15-year “scheme to defraud the government” and charged Allen Weisselberg—the longtime financial officer for the company—with grand larceny and tax fraud, according to the Washington Post.
In December 2021, shortly before leaving office, Vance directed two of the probe’s top prosecutors to present evidence on Trump’s dealings to a federal grand jury, according to the New York Times. But his successor, Alvin Bragg, suspended those plans that winter after “disagreeing” with the prosecutors over the strength of the evidence, per the Times. Both prosecutors resigned—one of whom, Mark F. Pomerantz, wrote a public resignation letter stating that he believed Trump was “guilty of numerous felony violations.”
The question of whether the probe would continue after these contentious resignations was unanswered this spring. But Bragg issued a statement in April stating that the investigation into both Trump and the Trump Organization “is continuing.”
Weisselberg, a Trump Organization employee, pleaded guilty August 18th to 15 counts of grand larceny as well tax fraud. The New York TimesIt was reported that Weisselberg would not be joined by the Trump Organization in pleading guilty on August 15. Bragg said in a statement the same day that the plea “requires Weisselberg to provide invaluable testimony in the upcoming trial” against the Trump Organization.
In a statement to TIME, Weisselberg’s lawyer Nicholas Gravante, Jr. stated that Weisselberg is “not a cooperating witness, but his truthful testimony at trial is required in order to receive the promised sentence and he is prepared to testify truthfully.”
“Entering a plea of guilty was one of the most difficult decisions of his life, even with the promised sentence which could require as much as 100 days of incarceration,” said Gravante. “Whether or not his trial testimony will be ‘invaluable’ is for the jury to determine, but it will be truthful.”
Neither Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba nor the Trump Organization responded to a request for comment.
New York Attorney General’s civil probe into the Trump Organization
New York Attorney General Letitia Jam launched a civil probe into business transactions of Trump Organization in the early part of 2019. Court filings from August 2020 revealed that, like the Manhattan DA’s criminal probe, her investigation is looking into whether the company misled lenders and taxing authorities by inflating the value of assets, according to the Washington Post.
In January 2022, James issued a statement saying that the investigation has “uncovered significant evidence that suggests Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit.”
Trump with James declined to answer questions on August 10. He also invoked his 5th Amendment right of self-incrimination in depositions. NPR also reports that Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump were both present during the investigation.
Neither Trump’s lawyer Ron Fischetti nor the Trump Organization responded to a request for comment.
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