What legal woes does former US President Donald Trump face?

Trump, who is seeking the presidency in 2024, faces numerous lawsuits and investigations. Here is where things stand.

Donald Trump has become the first former US president to have his mugshot taken, as he faced charges in Georgia in late August over efforts to overturn the 2020 United States election results in the state.

The Georgia charges were the latest indictment filed against Trump, who is also facing three other criminal cases.

Georgia prosecutors have accused the former president – who remains the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential frontrunner – and more than a dozen lawyers and other aides of forming a “criminal enterprise” to keep him in power.

Trump has rejected the allegations, saying he is the victim of a “witch hunt” meant to derail his re-election campaign, and entered a not-guilty plea on August 31.

The former president previously pleaded not guilty in US federal court in Washington, DC to four federal charges linked to his push to overturn the results of the 2020 vote that he lost to President Joe Biden.

Trump also faces state charges in New York over a hush-money payment to an adult film star in the waning days of his 2016 campaign, as well as federal charges linked to accusations he mishandled classified government documents at his Mar-a-Lago home.

But these are not the only legal woes dogging the former president. Here is a look at some of the investigations and lawsuits that Trump currently faces.

Alleged mishandling of classified records

The US Department of Justice has been investigating Trump for his alleged mishandling of classified records.

In August 2022, FBI agents seized a trove of documents from Trump’s estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Some records were marked “top secret”, while folders with “classified” banners were also collected, though some were empty.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing. Since the raid, his legal team has sought to block the justice department from reviewing the files, saying they contain material protected from government scrutiny due to attorney-client or executive privilege.

Trump pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in US federal court in Miami on June 13. The former president’s valet, Walt Nauta, also pleaded not guilty in early July to charges that he helped Trump conceal documents at Mar-a-Lago.

In late July, US prosecutors filed additional charges against Trump and Nauta, as well as named a third defendant in the case.

Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira faces several charges, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, lying to investigators and destroying documents. His arraignment hearing is set for August 10 and he is expected to plead not guilty.

Trump pleaded not guilty to the new charges in a court filing on August 4.

January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol

In December, a congressional panel investigating the January 6, 2021, assault by Trump supporters on the US Capitol urged the Justice Department to file criminal charges against the former president.

The recommended charges were inciting, assisting or aiding insurrection; disrupting an official proceeding; conspiracy to defraud the US; and conspiracy to make a false statement to the federal government.

The recommendations came a few weeks after US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the appointment of prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel in a probe into whether “any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election”.

On August 1, Smith announced that Trump had been criminally indicted on four charges: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.

Two days later, the former president appeared in US federal court in Washington, DC, for a brief arraignment hearing, during which he pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him. Trump later accused US President Joe Biden’s administration of persecuting a political opponent.

On August 28, the judge set March 4, 2024 as the trial’s start date.

Wire fraud

Democrats said in a June 2022 hearing of the January 6 committee that Trump raised $250m from supporters to advance fraudulent claims in court that he won the 2020 election but steered much of the money elsewhere.

This raises the possibility that he could be charged with wire fraud, which prohibits obtaining money on “false or fraudulent pretenses”, legal experts said.

Georgia election tampering

Trump faces a total of 13 felony charges in the Georgia case, according to filings made available in August on the Fulton County Clerk’s Office website.

The first among them is a violation of Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) law, which was used to charge Trump and his associates over allegations they participated in a wide-ranging conspiracy to overturn the state’s 2020 election result.

Crimes under RICO are punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The inquiry by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis focused in part on a phone call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, on January 2, 2021, in which Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” the votes needed to overturn his election loss.

Trump, who has rejected any wrongdoing, could argue he was engaging in free speech and did not intend to influence the election.

After surrendering to Fulton County authorities on August 24, the former president was swiftly released on a $200,000 bond. He pleaded not guilty in a court filing on August 31, waiving a formal arraignment hearing in the case that had been set for early September.

Loans and tax bills

Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, has been conducting a criminal investigation into whether the Trump family’s real estate company misrepresented the values of its properties to secure favourable bank loans and lower tax bills.

Two top lawyers who had been leading the investigation resigned in February 2022, throwing the probe’s future into question, but Bragg’s office has said it is continuing.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and says the probe is politically motivated. Bragg is a Democrat.

Stormy Daniels case

Trump was indicted in April in relation to the New York probe into the alleged hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and other individuals ahead of the 2016 election.

He was presented with 34 felony charges of “falsifying business records in the first degree” in that case, which made him the first former US president to face criminal prosecution. He pleaded not guilty.

Daniels has said she had sexual relations with Trump, who is married, an allegation that he rejects.

Trump denied early on that the payment to Daniels was connected to the campaign, saying the agreement with the porn star “was used to stop the false and extortionist accusations made by her about an affair”.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 over his payments to Daniels and another woman as well as for lying to Congress.

‘Numerous acts of fraud’ in New York

Trump has been sued in the state of New York on allegations that he unlawfully inflated his net worth to obtain favourable loans, tax breaks and other benefits.

The lawsuit, filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James on September 21, named the Trump Organization as well as the former president’s eldest children, Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, as defendants.

“Today, I filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump for engaging in years of financial fraud to enrich himself, his family and the Trump Organization,” said James, whose office has spent more than three years investigating fraudulent or misleading valuations for Trump Organization properties.

The lawsuit accuses the Trump Organization of engaging in “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation” in preparing Trump’s annual statements of financial condition from 2011 to 2021.

James also said she was referring allegations of criminal wrongdoing to federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the Internal Revenue Service.

A lawyer for the former president rejected the lawsuit as “neither focused on the facts nor the law — rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda” and said Trump had pledged to fight it in court.

“We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the attorney general’s meritless claims,” Trump lawyer Alina Habba said.

E Jean Carroll, who is suing Trump for defamation.
E Jean Carroll has accused Trump of raping her in the 1990s and sued for defamation after he denied the allegation [File: Seth Wenig/’AP Photo]


In May, a US jury found that Trump sexually abused E Jean Carroll, a writer who had accused the former president of rape as well as defamation after the former president branded her a liar.

The jury ordered him to pay about $5m in damages in the verdict, which Trump has appealed.

Trump has denied raping Carroll or knowing her at the time of the alleged assault in a New York City department store in the 1990s and said she was “not my type”.

His first denial in June 2019 prompted her to sue for defamation five months later. He repeated the denial in an October 12 post on his Truth Social account, calling Carroll’s claim a “hoax” and a “lie” and prompting a new defamation claim.

On August 7, a US judge dismissed Trump’s defamation counterclaim against Carroll.

Trump had sued Carroll for defamation after she said, “Oh yes, he did. Oh yes, he did,” when asked on CNN about the jury’s finding that he had not raped her. The jury had found him liable for sexual assault. He also objected to Carroll recounting how she had told his lawyer, “He did it and you know it”, shortly after the verdict was read.

But US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said Trump’s claim must be dismissed because Carroll’s statements were at least “substantially true”, and Trump failed to show that Carroll made them with actual malice. A Trump lawyer said he plans to appeal.

This article was last updated on August 28, 2023.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters