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Factbox: An overview of Donald Trump’s legal troubles

2023-05-09T19:23:48Z

Former Elle magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll watches as a former U.S. president Donald Trump’s video deposition is played in court during a civil trial where Carroll accuses the former U.S. president in a civil lawsuit of raping her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s, and of defamation, in New York, U.S., May 4, 2023 in this courtroom sketch. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

A jury on Tuesday found Donald Trump sexually abused and defamed writer E. Jean Carroll, the latest development in a series of legal woes facing the Republican front-runner in the 2024 U.S. presidential race. Here are some others:

Trump became the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges when a New York grand jury indicted him for allegedly falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment made to a porn star before his victory in the 2016 presidential election.

During the campaign, Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 for her silence about an affair she says she had with Trump in 2006.

Trump denies the allegations and the affair but has admitted to reimbursing Cohen for his payment to Daniels.

He has called Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s probe a politically motivated “witch hunt” and pleaded not guilty on April 4 to 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Trump’s reimbursement checks for the suppression payment falsely stated that the money was for a “retainer agreement,” prosecutors said. The indictment accused Trump of falsifying his real estate company’s books with intent to defraud.

While falsifying business records in New York on its own is a misdemeanor punishable by no more than one year in prison, it is elevated to a felony punishable by up to four years when done to advance or conceal another crime, such as election law violations.

Prosecutors say Trump falsified records in part to cover up the fact that the payment to Daniels exceeded federal campaign contribution limits.

Last week, Justice Juan Merchan in Manhattan asked Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors to see if they could agree on a trial date in February or March 2024, which would be in the thick of Trump’s campaign for the November 2024 presidential election.

A prosecutor in the state of Georgia is investigating whether Trump and others acted illegally to try to overturn his defeat in that state’s 2020 presidential vote.

The investigation focuses in part on a phone call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, on Jan. 2, 2021. Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” enough votes needed to overturn Trump’s loss in Georgia.

Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney and a Democrat, is expected to disclose this summer whether Trump and others will be charged.

Prosecutors have granted immunity to at least eight fake electors who may have offered to cast electoral college votes for Trump even though Biden won Georgia, according to a court filing last week.

Legal experts said Trump may have violated at least three Georgia criminal election laws: conspiracy to commit election fraud, criminal solicitation to commit election fraud and intentional interference with performance of election duties.

Trump could argue that his discussions were free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Justice Department has an investigation under way into Trump’s actions after he lost the 2020 election.

Overseeing the investigation is Jack Smith, a war crimes prosecutor and political independent. Trump has accused the FBI, without evidence, of launching the probes as political retribution.

A special House of Representatives committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, assault by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol urged the Justice Department to charge Trump with corruption of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make a false statement and inciting or aiding an insurrection.

Only the Justice Department can decide whether to charge Trump, who has called the Democratic-led panel’s investigation a politically motivated sham.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Smith to also investigate whether Trump improperly retained classified records at his Mar-a-Lago Florida estate after leaving the White House and then tried to obstruct a federal investigation.

It is unlawful to willfully remove or retain classified material.

The FBI seized 13,000 documents from Mar-a-Lago in an Aug. 8 search. About 100 documents were marked classified; some were designated top secret, the highest level of classification.

Trump has accused the Justice Department of engaging in a partisan witch hunt.

New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump and his Trump Organization last September for fraud.

James said that her office found more than 200 examples of misleading asset valuations between 2011 and 2021, and that Trump inflated his net worth by billions of dollars.

She said the scheme was intended to help Trump obtain lower interest rates on loans and better insurance coverage.

The civil lawsuit seeks to permanently bar Trump and three of his adult children from running companies in New York state, and to recoup at least $250 million obtained through fraud.

Trump, a Republican, has called James’ lawsuit a witch hunt, and the defendants have said the claims are without merit. James is a Democrat.

A trial is scheduled for October.


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