Resolute Square

Trump's Many Legal Worries

Credit: Ed Jones/via Getty Images
Published:June 15, 2023

Published with the generous permission of Amee Vanderpool. For more of Amee's work, visit her Shero newsletter.

By Amee Vanderpool

Here is a current definitive list of all of the current and potential legal actions that former President Donald Trump now faces following his arraignment in Miami yesterday.

Former President Donald Trump surrendered to authorities at the federal courthouse in Miami just before 2 pm/ET on Tuesday, June 13, 2023. He arrived with his personal valet and co-defendant, Walt Nauta, who was not able to file a plea with the court at that time because he has yet to obtain legal counsel.

The entire court hearing lasted approximately 45 minutes, and in that time, Trump pleaded not guilty. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman, who was filling in for Judge Aileen Cannon, set deadlines for federal prosecutors to turn over the evidence they've gathered to the defense. The court then adjourned until a later date.

For all of the details leading up to the two-hour booking and arraignment, you can review my live tweets of the day here. If you are interested in what the next phase will be in the trial, specifically if Judge Aileen Cannon will recuse herself or can legally be forced off of the case, listen to my latest podcast here:

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been investigating whether Donald Trump used his position as president, and his allies, to illegally meddle in the 2020 election in Georgia. Her investigation has been ramping up, and Willis has indicated that she intends to file charges at the end of the summer, but the latest federal charges against Donald Trump in Florida may force Willis to press pause on her case.

On May 18, Willis sent a letter to 21 Fulton County officials, including Chief County Judge Ural Glanville and Sheriff Pat Labat, announcing remote work days for most of her staff during the first three weeks of August. In this most recent letter, she also requested that judges in the downtown Atlanta courthouse not schedule trials for August, as she prepares to bring charges in the inquiry at that time.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had also previously filed a motion in May in response to a previous motion from Donald Trump and fake elector Cathy Latham, which attempted to remove Willis from the case and exclude certain evidence. In March, Trump attorneys asked Judge Robert McBurney of the Fulton County Superior Court to reject the special grand jury report that investigated any wrongdoing by Trump and his associates and to prevent any of the panel’s evidence from being used altogether.

On Tuesday, Fani Willis gave a podcast interview in which she indicated that any further movement on her case, which was planned for August of this year, would have to be put on hold pending the events of this latest federal trial in Florida. While there is no specific rule or law that forbids her progression of charges in Georgia while Trump is tried in Florida, it makes sense that she would temporarily halt her intended grand jury charges so that we can all focus on one criminal court case at a time.

The Fulton County District attorney’s investigation began shortly after the release of a recording of a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which the then-president suggested that Raffensperger could “find 11,780 votes” — just enough to overtake Democrat Joe Biden and overturn Trump’s narrow loss in the state. Willis has convened a special grand jury to hear testimony from witnesses including high-profile Trump allies, such as attorney Rudy Giuliani, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and high-ranking Georgia officials, which include Brad Raffensperger and Governor Brian Kemp.

The fake electors, who signed a certificate asserting Trump had won the election and declaring themselves state electors, have been advised that they could face possible criminal charges at the federal level. A special 2020 Election Congressional Committee has already determined that the effort to impanel rival slates of electors in order to sway an election result was a criminal infraction, and has made criminal referrals to the Justice Department. This means that the Justice Department could potentially decide to pursue charges in the Georgia case, in addition to or despite DA Fani Willis not filing charges for her state.

For the latest events on the Georgia case and where things last stood pending Willis’ statement about a pause, read: Fulton County District Attorney Responds to Trump

New York Attorney General Letitia James has sued Trump and the Trump Organization, alleging they misled banks and tax authorities about the value of assets to get loans and tax benefits.

James is seeking a $250 million fine and a ban on Trump doing business in New York, and a successful verdict could lead to civil penalties against the Trump Organization. Manhattan prosecutors have also investigated the same alleged conduct but have decided not to pursue criminal charges. This civil trial is scheduled in state court for October, but there could be a possible postponement in the event that the Florida criminal case is not concluded.

Former President Donald Trump was charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records after being indicted by a Manhattan grand jury in April of this year. Prosecutors allege that Trump engaged in a "scheme" to boost his chances during the 2016 presidential election through a series of hush money payments and repeated falsification of New York business records to cover up that alleged criminal conduct.
In a statement of facts accompanying the indictment, Manhattan prosecutors allege Trump made payments to his lawyer, Michael Cohen, to reimburse him for a payment the lawyer made to Stormy Daniels. After pleading guilty to tax evasion and campaign finance violations, made on behalf of Donald Trump, Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine. He was also disbarred from practicing law in the state of New York by the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division.

Special counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate Trump’s handling of classified documents, has also been leading a team probing efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the election that he falsely claimed was stolen.

Federal prosecutors have narrowed their investigation to focus on on a scheme by Trump allies that was put forth to a slate of fake presidential electors in key battleground states who falsely declared that Trump, not Biden, had won the 2020 election. While the investigation might include aspects of the Georgia case (see section above), Smith has issued subpoenas to a number of state Republican Party chairs that include Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Federal prosecutors have brought multiple Trump administration officials before a grand jury in Washington, DC, for questioning, including former Vice President Mike Pence. Election officials in multiple states, whose results were disputed by Trump, have also received subpoenas asking for past communications with or involving Trump and his campaign aides, including Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. While a case in Georgia (see section above) may also be viable in this investigation, the fact that so many state officials have been included in the probe shows how exhaustive and all-encompassing this probe has been.

The House committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol has also recommended that the Justice Department bring criminal charges against Trump and associates who helped him launch a wide-ranging pressure campaign to try to overturn his 2020 election loss. While the odds of Merrick Garland pursuing these charges seemingly decrease with every day that passes, the possibility of future charges remains, and any new evidence about Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 insurrection that now comes to light could certainly bolster the idea of future prosecution.

In a separate civil case in federal court in New York, Trump was found liable in May for sexually abusing and defaming former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll in the mid-1990s. The jury rejected Carroll’s claim that Trump had raped her in a dressing room but ordered Trump to pay $5 million in damages to Carroll.

While Trump has already appealed this verdict and has adamantly denied the accusations, he made no attempt to stop speaking publicly during the case. During Trump’s arraignment in Miami on Tuesday, Judge Lewis Kaplan allowed writer E. Jean Carroll to amend a pending defamation lawsuit against Trump to include allegedly disparaging comments he made about her last month after he was found liable for sexually assaulting her.