Trump faces flurry of investigations beyond Jan. 6 probe
Dec 3, 2021, 5:00 PM
NEW YORK (AP) — As Donald Trump’s lawyers try to block the White House from releasing records to the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, the former president faces a flurry of other investigations that could come to a head in the coming weeks and the new year.
That includes two major state criminal investigations — one in New York and one in Georgia — and lawsuits concerning sexual assault allegations, a fight over an inheritance and questions of whether he should be held personally liable for inciting the insurrection.
Trump has long dismissed the investigations as nothing more than a politically motivated “witch hunt” that began with the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But while Trump has spent most of his life dodging legal consequences, he is no longer shielded by the protections against indictment enjoyed by sitting presidents. And any charges — which would be the first against a former president in the nation’s history — could affect both his businesses and his future political prospects as he mulls running for a second term.
Here’s the latest on where the cases stand:
New York prosecutors are investigating the former president’s business dealings and recently convened a new grand jury to hear evidence after the previous panel’s term ran out.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office is weighing whether to seek more indictments in the case, which resulted in tax fraud charges in July against Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg. They are accused of cheating tax authorities through lucrative, untaxed fringe benefits.
Weisselberg is due back in court in July 2022.
Trump himself remains under investigation after District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who is leaving office at the end of the year, spent years fighting to access the former president’s tax records. Prosecutors have also been considering whether to seek charges against the company’s chief operating officer, Matthew Calamari Sr.
Investigators working for Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James have spent more than two years looking at whether the Trump Organization misled banks or tax officials about the value of the company’s assets, inflating them to gain favorable loan terms or minimizing them to reap tax savings.
“I think it’s pretty clear that our investigation is active and ongoing,” Vance said Tuesday.
James’ office is involved in Vance’s criminal probe and is conducting its own civil investigation.
Separately, Trump is facing scrutiny over properties he owns in the New York City suburbs. Westchester County District Attorney Mimi E. Rocah subpoenaed records from the town of Ossining as it investigates whether Trump’s company misled officials to cut taxes for a golf course there, two people familiar with the probe told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
In Atlanta, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened an investigation in January into possible attempts to interfere with the administration of the state’s 2020 election, which Trump narrowly lost.
In letters sent in February to top elected officials in the state — including Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — Willis instructed them to preserve all records related to the election, particularly those that may contain evidence of attempts to influence election officials.
The investigation includes a Jan. 2 phone call between Trump and Raffensperger in which Trump repeatedly and falsely asserts that the Republican secretary of state could change the certified results of the presidential election. A recording of the call was obtained the next day by multiple news organizations, including The Associated Press.
“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said. “Because we won the state.”
Willis has been relatively tight-lipped about the investigation, but her office has confirmed it is ongoing.
“All available evidence is being analyzed, whether gathered by this office, another investigative body or made public by the witnesses themselves. A decision on whether criminal charges are appropriate against any individual will be made when that process is complete,” spokesperson Jeff DiSantis said in an email.
Among the sources sure to be examined by Willis’ team is a book written by Raffensperger and published Nov. 2. It includes a transcript of the Jan. 2 call with Trump annotated with the secretary of state’s observations, including his belief that the president was threatening him at multiple points.
Willis earlier this year said she was also interested in the circumstances surrounding the sudden resignation on Jan. 4 of Bjay Pak, the U.S. attorney in Atlanta. Pak told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he had originally planned to stay in the position until Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, but resigned weeks earlier because of pressure from Trump.
The attorney general for the District of Columbia, Karl Racine, said early this year that district prosecutors were investigating Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 insurrection and considering whether to charge him under a local law that criminalizes statements that motivate people to act violently.
There has been no indication, however, that that is likely. If Trump were to be charged, it would be a low-level misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of six months in jail.
In addition to the criminal probes underway, Trump also faces a number of civil suits, from scorned business investors, to his estranged niece, to Democratic lawmakers and Capitol Police officers who blame him for inciting the violence on Jan. 6.
That includes a lawsuit brought by the House Homeland Security chair, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, under a Reconstruction-era law called the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which prohibits violence or intimidation meant to prevent members of Congress or other federal officials from carrying out their constitutional duties.
In October, Trump was questioned behind closed doors under oath in a deposition for a lawsuit brought by protesters who say his security team assaulted them outside Trump Tower in the early days of his presidential campaign in 2015.
Trump is also facing a defamation case brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll, who says Trump raped her in the mid-1990s in an upscale Manhattan department store. Trump has said that Carroll is “totally lying” and that she is “not my type.” U.S. Justice Department lawyers argued earlier this year that Trump cannot be held personally liable for “crude and disrespectful” remarks he made about a woman who accused him of rape because he made the comments while he was president. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear oral arguments in the case Friday.
Trump had faced a similar defamation lawsuit from Summer Zervos, a former “Apprentice” contestant who had accused Trump of kissing and groping her against her will in 2007, but she unexpectedly dropped the suit last month.
Separately, Trump’s estranged niece, Mary Trump, has sued him and other family members, accusing them of defrauding her of millions of dollars of inheritance money. Trump has filed his own suit against Mary Trump and The New York Times over a 2018 story about his family’s finances that was based partly on confidential documents she provided to the paper. He accuses her of breaching a settlement agreement that barred her from disclosing the documents.
Lawyers for Mary Trump filed paperwork Thursday seeking to dismiss her uncle’s lawsuit against her.
Brumback reported from Atlanta. Associated Press writers Bernard Condon in New York and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.
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