Trump’s Pending Legal Battles: Where Things Stand

Published on: Jul 9, 2021fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round
US President Donald Trump speaks about his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of a meeting with Republican lawmakers and cabinet members on tax cuts at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 17, 2018. Getty Images

On July 1, New York prosecutors charged former President Trump’s real estate company – the Trump Organization – and its CFO Allen Weisselberg for their involvement in a tax scheme that allegedly ran over the course of 15 years. They said Weisselberg avoided paying taxes on about $1.7 million in perks (think: cars and apartments). And that the Trump Org kept those benefits off the books and failed to report them to the IRS. While he hasn’t been charged directly, Trump called the indictment against his company and CFO a “witch hunt.”

This isn’t the first time the former president has faced legal challenges. He faced several  lawsuits during his presidency – but sitting presidents are immune from prosecution (a practice experts say is up for debate). 

The Major Legal Battles Trump is Facing

These are some of the criminal and civil cases he’s involved in for his business practices…

  • In 2019, Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump engaged in fraud by doing things like decreasing the value of some properties to avoid taxes and claiming millions of dollars in consulting fees (including some to his daughter Ivanka Trump) as a tax write-off. In the aftermath, NY AG Letitia James launched an investigation into those allegations. And in Jan 2021, a judge ruled that Trump’s tax attorneys must turn over thousands of documents.

  • Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, is suing him and his siblings for keeping her from millions of dollars in an inheritance dispute (that was left to her by her father). She claims they made her settle for less than what her stake in the family holdings was worth.

    • Status: Trump filed to dismiss the case, but Mary refiled in Feb 2021. Unclear when we’ll find out if the case will move forward.

  • Real estate investment firm Ithaca Capital is suing Trump’s hotel management company Trump International for exaggerating the value of a Panama hotel when the firm bought it. Trump’s company challenged the case and filed counterclaims. But a district court dismissed most of Trump’s claims and upheld all of Ithaca’s.

    • Status: Both sides are currently investigating the evidence the other will present in court.

  • In 2018, a group of anonymous people filed a class-action suit against Trump, his company Trump Corporation, and three of his children. They claimed the Trump family used their brand to scam working-class investors into investing in worthless business ventures.

    • Status: A district court denied Trump's bid to solve the case outside of court. They have since twice appealed this ruling.

  • Washington, DC’s AG Karl Racine is suing Trump’s company for using 2017 inauguration funds (money contributed by donors) to pay a $49,000 hotel bill. The AG said Trump’s company should have paid.

Trump is also facing several lawsuits for his role in the Jan 6 Capitol riots. Here’s where things stand with those cases… 

  • DC’s AG is also investigating Trump’s role in encouraging the riots. Particularly whether he violated a DC law – which charges people with a misdemeanor who try to provoke violence – when he spoke to his supporters before and during the riots.

    • Status: He hasn’t filed any charges yet.

  • Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) is suing Trump (due to emotional distress Thompson suffered during the riots) for conspiring with right-wing groups (think: Proud Boys and Oath Keepers) to incite the attack and preventing Congress from counting the Electoral College votes that day. 

    • Status: A district court is currently waiting for Trump to respond before they can decide how to proceed.

  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) – who also suffered distress during the riots – is suing Trump, claiming he violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, which bans violent interference in Congress’s official duties.

    • Status: Trump filed to dismiss the case. TBD on the outcome.

  • Two police officers are suing Trump for physical injuries and emotional distress they suffered while protecting the Capitol on Jan 6. They claim the former president’s words fueled the riots.

    • Status: Trump filed to dismiss the case, but a result is pending.

  • In July, Trump sued Facebook, Twitter, Google (which owns YouTube), and the companies' CEOs for kicking him off their platforms. After the Capitol insurrection, the social media companies suspended Trump's accounts for violating their guidelines. Twitter permanently banned him. He asked the court for his accounts back.

    • Status: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube haven't responded yet. But experts say this lawsuit might be a long shot since private companies can decide what to allow on their platforms.

Another area where Trump is in hot water: the 2020 election. Here’s what he’s dealing with…

  • In 2020, the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund sued Trump for trying to pressure Republican officials in Michigan from certifying the 2020 results. It argued he violated a section of the Voting Rights Act by intimidating voters and election officials. Later, the NAACP added another claim: Trump and the RNC violated the Ku Klux Klan Act which prohibits robbing someone of the right to vote. Trump allegedly did this when he wanted to discard votes in cities with large Black populations, like Detroit.

    • Status: Trump filed to dismiss the case. A judge hasn’t made a decision on how to proceed yet.

  • Prosecutors in Atlanta are investigating whether Trump tried to overthrow the 2020 election. Including a phone call where Trump asked Georgia’s Sec of State to “find” more ballots in his favor.

    • Status: Prosecutors are currently trying to gather more evidence and witnesses.

Amid the #MeToo movement, Trump has faced legal battles surrounding sexual harassment. Including these two civil cases… 

  • In 2017, Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” sued Trump for defamation. She claimed he sexually assaulted her a few years prior. Trump called her allegations a hoax, for which she suffered financially and emotionally. After the case was filed, he appealed to have the case dismissed, saying a sitting president couldn’t be sued in a state court. But a New York state court rejected his appeal.

    • Status: The case will now move forward, but it’s unclear when.

  • In 2019, journalist E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s. But Trump publicly accused her of lying. So Carroll sued Trump for damaging her reputation, saying he acted with “malice” when he said Carroll wasn’t his type.

    • Status: Trump and the Justice Department have tried to appeal on the basis of the Federal Tort Claims Act, which says federal employees can say certain things if it relates to their official duties (such as speaking to the press about public matters). And even though Trump's out of office, the DOJ under President Biden is still backing him in this case. 

theSkimm

No president has ever been indicted for criminal conduct. But Trump is facing almost 29 legal cases. And now that he isn’t president anymore, certain immunities that protected him from being prosecuted while in office no longer apply. He’s already hinting at a possible run in 2024, but he might have to face the courthouse before the White House.

Skimm'd by Sana Dadani, Maria Martinolich, and Kamini Ramdeen


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