A list of former President Donald Trump’s legal problems
From New York to Miami - and two stops in between - here are the legal challenges facing the nation’s 45th president.
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Former President Donald Trump is the nation’s first chief executive in history to be criminally charged.
Here are some of the locations where the nation’s 45th president is facing legal problems:
In March, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump with alleged hush money payments made to porn actress Stephanie Clifford and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, whom he feared would go public with claims that they had extramarital sexual encounters with him.
A Manhattan grand jury had been probing Trump’s involvement in a $130,000 payment made in 2016 to the porn actor Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public about a sexual encounter she said she had with him years earlier.
In an indictment and other documents unsealed in early April, prosecutors allege Trump falsified internal business records at his company about a payoff to Daniels in order to keep a potentially damaging story from coming to light as he campaigned for the presidency in 2016. Alvin Bragg said it was Trump’s effort to cover up crimes related to that election that allowed prosecutors to charge the 34 counts as felonies.
The indictment, however, raises thorny issues about state and federal law that could provide openings for the defense to try to get the charges tossed before the case even gets to trial.
Trump, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, said he did nothing wrong and that the case is a political persecution.
Falsifying business records can be charged as a misdemeanor, a lower-level crime that would not normally result in prison time. It rises to a felony — which carries up to four years behind bars — if there was an intent to commit or conceal a second crime. Bragg said his office routinely brings felony false business records cases.
In Trump’s case, Bragg said the phony business records were designed to cover up alleged state and federal election law violations. The $130,000 payment to Daniels exceeded the federal cap on campaign contributions, Bragg said. He also cited a New York election law that makes it a crime to promote a candidate by unlawful means.
Atlanta (Fulton County)
Last year, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened a criminal investigation “into attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia General Election.” Months later, a special grand jury with subpoena power was seated in May 2022. In court filings, she alleged “a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere,” a contest that eventually saw Joe Biden become the first Democrat to win Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992.
Willis has been investigating since shortly after Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in early 2021 and suggested the state’s top elections official could help him “find 11,780 votes,” just enough needed to beat Democrat Joe Biden.
The 2 1/2-year investigation expanded to include an examination of a slate of Republican fake electors, phone calls by Trump and others to Georgia officials in the weeks after the 2020 election and allegations of widespread election fraud made to state lawmakers.
In an April 24 letter, Willis warned Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat of “charging decisions” coming this summer in connection with her investigation; she also notified Fulton County deputies she will announce charges from her investigation sometime between July 11 and Sept. 1.
One day before his 77th birthday, Trump appeared in Miami at the Wilkie D. Ferguson federal courthouse for his arraignment after an indictment listed 37 charges alleging the mishandling of classified documents. Trump’s arraignment made him the first ex-president in American history to be indicted on criminal charges by the federal government he once oversaw.
Trump’s historic court appearance coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Watergate hearings, a series of events which began in May 1973 and eventually led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation. The arraignment kickstarts a legal process that will unfold at the height of the 2024 presidential campaign and carry profound consequences not only for his political future but also for his own personal liberty.
Special Counsel Jack Smith is overseeing the federal investigation. Trump is facing a 37-count indictment in a Florida federal court, alleging he mishandled classified documents from a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.
Smith is also responsible for overseeing a criminal investigation involving Trump’s alleged role in the U.S. Capitol attack on January 6, 2021. In late July, Trump said he has received a letter informing him he is a target of the Justice Department’s investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, an indication he could soon be charged by U.S. prosecutors.
Smith’s team has cast a broad net in its investigation into attempts by Trump and his allies to block the transfer of power to Biden in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, when Trump loyalists stormed the building in a bid to disrupt the certification of state electoral votes in Congress. More than 1,000 people accused of participating in the riot have been charged.
Smith’s probe has centered on a broad range of efforts by Trump and allies to keep him in office, including the use of slates of so-called fake electors in battleground states won by Biden and disputed by Trump.
On August 3, 2023, Trump pleaded not guilty to trying to overturn the results of his 2020 election loss, answering for the first time to federal charges that accuse him of orchestrating an attempt to block the peaceful transfer of presidential power.
The former president appeared before a magistrate judge in Washington’s federal courthouse two days after being indicted by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith. Of the three criminal cases he’s facing, the most recent charges are especially historic since they focus on Trump’s efforts as president to subvert the will of voters and obstruct the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory. His refusal to accept defeat and his lies about widespread election fraud helped fuel the violent riot on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
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