WASHINGTON – As president, Donald Trump was immune from criminal prosecution and liability.
But now that he is a private citizen, he no longer enjoys the mantle of presidential immunity and his legal problems are starting to mount.
On Tuesday, just three days after the Senate acquitted him of a Jan.6 indictment indictment charge at the U.S. Capitol, Trump was sued for the riot in federal court by a prominent American Democratic representative.
The trial of Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the House Homeland Security committee, accuses Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and two far-right groups of conspiring to incite riot to prevent the certification by Congress of Democrat Joe Bidens’ victory in the presidential election.
The trial will likely be the first in a long series. But Trump’s legal issues aren’t limited to his role in the riot. Ongoing New York investigations and other lawsuits will likely hold it for years, said Sarah Tuberville of Project on Government Oversight.
I think one of his biggest dangers now is that the many defenses he had before, both legal and political, are not accessible to him outside of office, Tuberville said.
Jason Miller, a spokesman for the former president, called the investigations and lawsuits naked partisan stuff by partisan Democrats.
Despite growing calls from Democrats for the Justice Department to investigate Trump’s role in the Jan.6 attack, it remains uncertain whether the law enforcement agency will undertake such a politically charged investigation.
Biden has said he will leave it to his new attorney general, Merrick Garland, to decide whether to investigate or prosecute Trump. The issue is likely to dominate Garlands’ confirmation hearings scheduled for next week.
Here’s a look at some of the civil and criminal cases Trump now faces.
Fani Willis, the chief prosecutor in Fulton County, Georgia, is investigating whether Trump broke state law when he urged senior battlefield state officials to overturn his electoral loss against Biden.
At the heart of the investigation is a phone call Trump made Jan. 2 to Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump asked Raffensperger to find him enough voice to change the state’s election result. .
In a February 10 letter to senior Georgian officials, Willis wrote that the criminal investigation was a high priority for his office and that it was examining a wide range of potential violations, from solicitation of electoral fraud to violence or threats related to the electoral administration. .
Kimberly Wehle, former federal prosecutor and now professor of law at the University of Baltimore, said the investigation appeared to be moving forward in a serious way.
That’s because we know what the evidence is and what happened is pretty clear, Wehle said.
For more than two years, New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. have been investigating Trump and his real estate empire, The Trump Organization, for suspected fraud and irregularities. financial.
Vances’ civil investigation arose out of the testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohens 2019 to Congress in which he alleged that Trump committed financial crimes by manipulating the value of his real estate assets over a period of several years.
The investigation seems to be gaining momentum. Last month, a New York Supreme Court judge ordered the Trump organization to turn over documents to James’ office.
The separate criminal investigation, led by Vances’ office, began in 2018 as an investigation into the silent payments Cohen made in 2016 to two women who allegedly had extramarital affairs with Trump. Cohen went on to serve time for tax evasion, campaign finance violations and perjury in connection with payments.
The Vance investigation resumed after federal prosecutors closed the case in 2019 without charging Trump, and it has since expanded to include a range of criminal offenses, from tax evasion and insurance to forgery. business records.
While Trump has yet to turn over his financial records to Vance despite a Supreme Court ruling last year, the investigation appears to be resuming, with Vances’ office hiring forensic experts to assist with the investigation.
District of Colombia
The office of District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racines is investigating whether Trumps’ role in the Jan.6 attack on the U.S. Capitol violated local riot law, a spokesperson told VOA.
The jurisdiction of Racines is limited to the application of the code of capitals. The more than 200 rioters arrested to date have all been charged at the federal level.
Under local Washington code, rioting or incitement to riot is an offense punishable by up to six months in prison. Racines’ office has not decided whether to go ahead with a charge under the code, the spokesperson said.
Wehle said that even if a misdemeanor is not a serious deterrent, it would stain the presidency (Trump).
Trump faces two libel lawsuits from two women who accused him of sexual misconduct. In 2019, E. Jean Carroll, a former columnist for Elle magazine, sued her for libel after denying her accusation of raping her at a New York department store in the 1990s, claiming she was not not my type and that it had never happened.
Shortly before Trump stepped down on January 20, the Justice Department argued in court that as president Trump was a government employee and could not be prosecuted. But now that he’s a private citizen, he can no longer claim immunity, Wehle said.
Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, the Trump-hosted reality show that premiered in 2004, sued her for calling her a liar after accusing her of sexually assaulting her in 2007. Last week, Zervos asked a New York court to allow his lawsuit now that Trump has been removed from office.
Thompson’s lawsuit alleges false election statements by Trump and Giuliani instigated the January 6 riot and the two extremist groups the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers in violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 law prohibiting interference violent in the constitutional duties of Congress. .
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