Trump’s Various Legal Entanglements
Heidi Siegmund Cuda reviews the former US President’s multiple legal cases, separating fact from the unreality he promotes on his propaganda platform Truth Social
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There is something comforting about Donald Trump’s disappearing base. As the first of multiple legal nooses tighten, he is once again trying to instigate violence. But, so far, reporters have outnumbered protestors.
On Monday, the former US President wrote: “It’s time!!! We just can’t allow this anymore. They’re killing our nation as we sit back and watch. We must save America! Protest, protest, protest!!!”
His allies – Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn and Roger Stone – are once again trying to stir up the emotions of the authoritarian-right with various podcast appearances. That they are still free to do so after the evidence heard by the January 6 Committee of their roles in the incitement of violence at the attempted insurrection at the US Capitol is an example of the US Justice Department’s slow walking of indictments at the boss level.
Nevertheless, Trump has serious legal troubles – not least his anticipated indictment in Manhattan for the attempted cover-up of a ‘hush money’ payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
“Some people have suggested that the charges under consideration in Manhattan are insignificant, that Trump shouldn’t be charged with a mere ‘record-keeping error’,” former US Attorney Joyce Vance observed in her Civil Discourse newsletter. “I don’t see it that way. The Stormy Daniels incident is the origin story for Trump’s efforts to manipulate elections in unfair ways.
“While paying-off a woman who alleges he had sex with her to keep it from coming to light on the eve of an election may seem almost quaint after living through Russia’s efforts to help elect Trump, Trump’s efforts to withhold aid to Ukraine to get dirt on Biden, and the entire horror show of the 2020 election, it is still shocking behaviour for a candidate for the presidency.”
It is important to recall that Michael Cohen – Trump’s former lawyer and ‘fixer’ – went to prison for the incident, and Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr suppressed any further investigation into Trump himself.
Retired Internal Revenue Service criminal investigator Martin Sheil believes it is poetic justice that Trump’s first criminal indictment may be over the falsification of company books. For him, Trump’s story echoes the takedown of Al Capone.
“The downfall of Al Capone, who went to jail for tax fraud-based on his maintaining a double set of books for his rackets, is similar to Trump’s case,” Sheil told Byline Times.
“He could be looking at a possible conviction from the Manhattan DA, whose case is centrally based on the falsifying of company books and records with the intent of concealing the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels that therefore constitute campaign contributions and election fraud.”
Although Trump’s screeds on his propaganda platform make him out to be the victim of an unfair world, each of the cases could potentially result in a former US president spending his twilight years in prison.
Here are the most relevant legal cases and investigations:
- In New York, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg could indict Trump for falsifying records to cover-up a $130,000 ‘hush money’ payment by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels
- In Georgia, a grand jury has probed Trump and myriad associates’ attempt to overturn the 2020 Presidential Election result. In a recorded phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Trump pushed him to locate additional votes to overturn the election results
- In Washington D.C., Special Counsel Jack Smith – most recently a special prosecutor in The Hague – is tasked with two criminal investigations:
- Probing Trump’s role in January 6, focusing on the timeframe after his election loss to Joe Biden and up to the violent attempted insurrection at the US Capitol. Part of the Special Counsel criminal investigation includes the fake electoral schemes. Currently, former Vice President Mike Pence is among those in Trump’s orbit trying to avoid his subpoena from Smith. Multiple Trump associates were raided by the FBI and their electronic devices were seized
- Investigating Trump’s obstruction regarding the removal of classified documents to his Florida beach hotel, Mar-a-Lago
Trump has been trying to slow the Special Counsel investigations by preventing former advisors and family members from testifying.
In addition to the New York, Georgia, and two Special Counsel cases, other notable lawsuits include:
- Trump Org: the Trump Organisation was convicted in December for tax fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records. Former CFO Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty to his role in the ‘tax scheme’ and was sentenced to five months at Rikers Island. (Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and former lawyer Michael Cohen, also went to prison)
- Trump Foundation: Trump and his three eldest children are banned from the boards of charities in New York, after the Trump Foundation was forcibly shut down for “functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Trump” according to prosecutors, citing a “shocking pattern of illegality”
- US Capitol Police and Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police case: multiple officers are suing Trump for inciting the 2021 attempted insurrection that led to attacks on law enforcement on January 6
- Peter Strzok lawsuit: former FBI counter-intelligence official Peter Strzok, who was fired in 2018 due to anti-Trump texts, sued the Justice Department alleging wrongful termination. Strzok and his colleague Lisa Page were publicly targeted by Trump, who used their text messages to try to denigrate the Trump-Russia investigation. In February, a federal judge ruled that Trump and FBI Director Christopher Wray can be deposed for the lawsuit
- E. Jean Carroll defamation and battery cases: writer E. Jean Carroll alleged that Trump raped her in the mid-1990s and defamed her when he denied the rape. He said she was not his “type”. In a new joint filing, lawyers said they wanted to hold one trial on both suits
- Clinton/DNC lawsuit dropped: a federal judge dismissed Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, and others that he accused of sullying his 2016 election win by tying him to Russia. Trump is appealing but a US district judge ruled that Trump and his lawyers are liable for $1 million in sanctions for bringing the case, saying “no reasonable lawyer would have filed it”
“Donald Trump had tried to steal an election and Jack Smith is going to indict him for that, along with all the conspiring attorneys that aided and abetted his failed and sorry attempt to take what wasn’t his,” Sheil added.
When totalling up all the cases – and even leaving out a few – those who had hoped to see justice many years ago are being asked to exhibit that one thing many of us have exhausted: patience.
But as Joyce Vance cautioned, “let’s let our justice system work: slow, imperfect, but still essential to the rule of law. If the system works, we continue to be a country governed by laws, not the whims of men. Let’s not permit Trump to change who we are”.