Donald Trump’s other legal woes

The former president’s role in the assault on the Capitol and attempted election fraud in Georgia are among the cases still under investigation

Former U.S. president Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Arizona in 2020.
Former U.S. president Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Arizona in 2020.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (AFP)
Macarena Vidal Liy

Donald Trump’s new indictment, this time for violation of laws protecting classified documents, may not be his last. The former U.S. president and current Republican White House hopeful faces numerous pending legal cases for matters including the alleged illegal use of campaign funds, his role in a mob assault on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, and attempts to alter the outcome of the November 2020 election.

The real estate tycoon is due to appear next Tuesday in a federal court in Miami, as he himself has posted on his social networks. This is not the first occasion the former TV celebrity has been summoned to court in recent times.

Trump became the first former U.S. president to be formally indicted last March when Manhattan prosecutors charged him with 34 counts of falsifying accounting records. The charges pertained to hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels on his behalf by his former confidant, Michael Cohen, in 2016. Any news about their alleged sexual relationship could have harmed his election campaign at the time. Trump pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing, after which the trial date was set for March 25, 2024, when the Republican primary season will be in full swing.

The former president’s lawyers are trying to get the case moved from the Manhattan courts to a federal court.

The White House hopeful returned to the New York courts in April, this time for a civil case. Writer E Jean Carroll accused him of a rape that occurred in the 1990s and of defaming her after she broke the story in 2019. A jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation, and ordered him to pay the plaintiff $5 million in compensation. The former president’s lawyers are seeking a reduction of the fine or a new trial.

But the most significant cases, both in terms of the criminal consequences they may entail and the political repercussions they may unleash, are yet to come.

The assault on the Capitol

Special counsel Jack Smith has led the probe into classified documents found in Trump’s possession at his Mar-a-Largo residence, in Florida. On behalf of the Justice Department, he also investigated the former president’s role in the events following his defeat in the November 2020 election that culminated in the storming of the Capitol.

The former vice president and Trump’s current rival in the Republican race for the White House, Mike Pence, testified before a grand jury in Washington in April after Trump lost an appeal seeking to block his former running mate from appearing.

That investigation also examines a plot that would have presented false lists of electors — the representatives of the states that on January 6, 2021 were to present the votes of their constituencies in Congress and confirm Joe Biden’s triumph in the elections — and thus prevent legislators from certifying the Democrat as the new president of the United States.

A special House of Representatives committee set up to investigate the assault recommended that the Justice Department bring charges against Trump for conspiracy to make a false official statement and incitement to insurrection, among other grounds for prosecution.

Election interference in Georgia

In Georgia, the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (a Democrat) is investigating whether Trump and others associated with him attempted to alter the outcome of the 2020 election in that state.

The investigation stems from a call by the then-president to the local secretary of state, Republican Brad Raffensperger, instructing him to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s lead in those elections. But it has since expanded to include, among other things, other calls made by Trump and his associates to Georgia officials after the election, and baseless allegations of voter fraud made to state lawmakers.

Willis has hinted that possible indictments will come before September 1. In a letter to County Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville, she noted that much of her staff will be working remotely for the first three weeks of August and has asked judges not to schedule in-person trials and hearings during that time for security reasons.

Experts believe Trump may have violated at least three election laws in that state and may be charged with conspiracy to commit voter fraud, criminal solicitation to perpetrate voter fraud, and intentional interference in the conduct of election duties.

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