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Donald Trump's New York indictment leads string of potential legal woes

The indictment in New York won't stop federal and state prosecutors in other jurisdictions from bringing their own charges

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Bloomberg
Donald Trump has been indicted by a grand jury in Manhattan on charges related to the payment of hush money to a porn star during his 2016 campaign. The prosecution of a former president is unprecedented and certain to kick off a political firestorm and a fierce courtroom fight — but the case isn’t the only legal challenge facing Trump going forward.

The indictment in New York won’t stop federal and state prosecutors in other jurisdictions from bringing their own charges, but a logjam of cases — criminal or civil — will make it harder to resolve them all as fast as Trump’s adversaries might want. The looming 2024 campaign season adds another layer of potential complications. 

Here’s where the rest of the pending investigations and civil cases surrounding Trump stand:

Justice Department
 
Special Counsel Jack Smith was brought in late last year by Attorney General Merrick Garland to take over two federal criminal investigations — the first into efforts by Trump and his allies to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election, and the second into whether Trump or others mishandled classified information after he left the White House or attempted to obstruct the government’s inquiry. There is no timeline for when Smith will decide what recommendations to make to Garland. His team has spent the past months subpoenaing witnesses and fighting with Trump in court — largely behind closed doors — over who prosecutors can put before the grand jury and what they must testify about.

Fulton County, Georgia
 
In Georgia, Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis is investigating whether Trump broke the law in his attempts to alter the results of the state’s 2020 presidential vote. In a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call, Trump urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” him 11,780 votes — one more than Joe Biden’s margin of victory in the state. A special grand jury authorized to hear evidence and make recommendations — but not to return indictments — finished its work and submitted a report to Willis, who will decide whether to bring charges. The foreperson of that special grand jury, in media interviews that Trump’s lawyers condemned, said the panel’s recommendations included indicting more than a dozen people, and she hinted that Trump was among them.

New York Attorney General
 
The New York attorney general’s civil suit against Trump and three of his children for allegedly inflating the value of his real estate company’s assets is perhaps the biggest threat to the former president’s wealth, as well as his image as a successful businessman. James is seeking $250 million in disgorgement and a permanent ban on all four Trumps doing business in New York. She’s already succeeded in winning a court order for an independent monitor to oversee the Trump Organization, a move that could bring unprecedented scrutiny to the former president’s finances.

Battery and defamation

A trial is scheduled for April 25 in a lawsuit by New York advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who sued Trump for battery and defamation stemming from her claim that he raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s. The suit was filed under New York’s new Adult Survivors Act, which lifted the statute of limitations for one year on civil claims for sexual offenses. When Carroll first made her accusation in 2019, Trump said she was “not his type” and that she made up the claim to boost sales of her book.

Jan. 6 attack
 
Trump was sued by 12 Democratic lawmakers accusing him of sparking the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol. Multiple Capitol police officers also sued Trump for physical injuries and racist abuse suffered that day. Through appeals, Trump is trying to get the cases dismissed; a federal judge in Washington rejected Trump’s defense that he was immune from being sued because he was a sitting president at the time. The Justice Department has said it will not support that argument in court.

Investors class action
 
Trump, his company and his three oldest children are also facing a class-action lawsuit filed in 2018 by four investors who claimed that they were duped by Trump’s promotions into paying thousands of dollars to become independent sellers with ACN Opportunity LLC, which sold a doomed videophone device that Trump touted as the next big thing. The devices were made obsolete by smartphones. Trump sat for questions in October.

Trump Organization
 
On Dec. 6, following a weekslong trial, two units of the Trump family business, the Trump Organization, were found guilty of engaging in a 13-year tax-evasion scheme. A Manhattan jury found the two units guilty of all 17 counts including scheme to defraud, conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records. Trump himself wasn’t charged. The two companies were assessed a $1.6 million fine. With a felony on its record, the Trump Organization could be barred from further contracts with government agencies and could have trouble doing business with banks. Lawyers for both units said they would appeal.

Voter rights
 
A group of Michigan voters is suing Trump, his 2020 reelection campaign, and the Republican National Committee alleging mass voter suppression, particularly among Black voters. Trump and the RNC are seeking to have the case dismissed. Trump is also appealing after the judge in that case rejected his absolute immunity claim.

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First Published: Mar 31 2023 | 6:30 AM IST

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