December 1, 2022
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Trump’s troubles worsen: legal landmines facing the ex-president

 

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Donald Trump’s myriad of legal problems have intensified after a whirlwind week of lawsuits and court decisions that went against the embattled former president — including a civil suit filed by the New York attorney general that partly seeks to prohibit him or his adult children from ever running a company in their home state again.

It was just one of several new setbacks for Trump, as the probe into his handling of classified documents continues and unsealed court papers revealing that a writer already suing him for defamation plans to file a second lawsuit alleging he raped her, under a historic new law passed by New York legislators.

The new week only promises to bring more troubles for Trump. The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection of the U.S. Capitol indicated the final televised hearing set for Wednesday will be an explosive event featuring new witness testimony.

Here’s an update on the biggest legal threats facing Teflon Don in state, federal, and congressional investigations.

DOJ probe of missing White House records

Attorney General Merrick Garland’s investigators continue to investigate Trump’s handling of highly sensitive classified documents in a probe that could result in a federal indictment.

Trump scored a point when Judge Aileen Cannon tasked a well-respected Brooklyn judge with examining more than 10,000 seized documents as a special master in the DOJ probe. He lost one when an unimpressed Judge Raymond Dearie put his lawyers on the hook by forcing them to take a position on whether he declassified documents and detail his unfounded claim the FBI planted evidence.

“My view is you can’t have your cake and eat it,” Dearie told Trump’s lawyers when they appeared before him on Wednesday.

In another blow, the 11th Circuit ruling that gave the Justice Department access to continue looking through the files also struck down Cannon’s order allowing Dearie to oversee documents marked “top secret.”

Trump continues to claim he did nothing wrong — and was widely ridiculed after a Fox interview last week in which he claimed, “If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, ‘It’s declassified.’ Even by thinking about it.”

N.Y. AG civil fraud case against the Trump Organization

The state attorney general’s sweeping lawsuit filed Wednesday charged Trump, the Trump Organization, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump, and other senior executives with engaging in rampant financial fraud.

The 280-page complaint filed in Manhattan Supreme Court includes dozens of examples of Trump and his associates inflating the value of company assets such as skyscrapers and golf courses by hundreds of millions of dollars. In doing so, the AG says the company reaped massive financial rewards, whether through better loan terms or tax breaks. It shows evidence of Trump overstating his own net worth by billions.

The suit seeks to forever change how the former president’s company operates in New York. James’ office also made criminal referrals to prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service.

New York writer’s defamation and rape cases

E. Jean Carroll, who is suing Trump for defamation, now plans to accuse him in a lawsuit of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in 1994.

Carroll couldn’t previously bring a rape claim in a lawsuit due to statute of limitations laws, but the newly passed Adult Survivors Act allows victims to sue their assailants for a one-year look-back period regardless of when the assault allegedly occurred.

In court papers unsealed Wednesday, the former Elle columnist notified the judge overseeing her libel case against Trump — for accusing her of lying about the incident — that she’ll sue as soon as the statute allows on Nov. 24.

Investigations into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack

The House congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol said it would hold its final public hearing on Sept. 28.

Promising a worthy finale to the eight televised public hearings in June and July convened by the bipartisan Select Committee that captivated the nation, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the panel’s chairman, said there would be “significant witness testimony.”

The panel is expected to make public its final report before the midterm elections. The committee can’t bring criminal charges, but it can make a criminal referral to the Justice Department, which is also conducting an expansive probe into Trump’s efforts to overthrow the election.

Manhattan DA criminal case against the Trump Organization

Following the recent guilty plea of the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, the company’s lawyers said they were scrambling to “radically” rethink a defense strategy ahead of the October trial.

Weisselberg’s plea deal — which he agreed to for 100 days on Rikers instead of a potential 15-year sentence — requires he testify against the company at its trial about how they worked together to dodge taxes.

If convicted of engaging in the same scheme Weisselberg admitted to, the Trump Organization faces a potentially mammoth payout in financial penalties. Paired with the relief sought in the AG’s lawsuit, a bad outcome at trial could drive Trump’s family real estate business into the ground.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg says his office continues to investigate Trump and other senior leadership and that more charges could still come.

Georgia probe of Trump’s effort to overturn state’s election results
A special grand jury is still hearing evidence in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ probe into Trump and his associates’ efforts to bully officials to overturn his loss to Biden in the battleground state.

Willis opened the investigation last year, which stems from Trump’s now infamous directive to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the weeks following the election to “find” him more votes. In a recent filing she described the underlying scheme as “a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”

The grand jury has already heard from former New York City Mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, a subject in the criminal probe. A federal judge said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) must testify after his failed legal efforts to avoid it. Jurors are expected to hear from more Trump allies.

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