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Factbox-The legal troubles of former US President Donald Trump

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Factbox-The legal troubles of former US President Donald Trump
April 15, 2024
Reuters

(Reuters) - Donald Trump faces an array of legal troubles in criminal and civil cases while he seeks to regain the presidency as the Republican candidate challenging Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 U.S. election. Trump denies wrongdoing in all of the cases.

Trump faces 88 criminal charges in four cases - two in federal courts and two in state courts. Here is a look at those and other major legal cases facing the former U.S. president.

TRIAL OVER HUSH MONEY TO PORN STAR

Opening statements are set to take place on Monday in Manhattan in Trump's trial on charges he falsified business records to cover up hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election for her silence about a sexual encounter she said she had with him in 2006. It is the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president and could be the only one Trump faces before the election.

The case stems from a $130,000 payment Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, made to Daniels. Trump won the 2016 election, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, has accused Trump of trying to conceal a violation of election laws by recording his reimbursement to Cohen as monthly legal fees in his real estate company's books.

Trump pleaded not guilty on April 4, 2023, to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels but acknowledged reimbursing Cohen for the payment, which he says was a personal expense. His lawyers have said in court papers the hush money payment could have been intended to spare himself and his family embarrassment, not to benefit his presidential campaign.

Trump has called Cohen a "serial liar." Cohen's credibility is expected to be a key issue at trial.

A conviction would not bar Trump from running for office or regaining the presidency. 

SPECIAL COUNSEL'S ELECTION SUBVERSION CHARGES

The U.S. Supreme Court on April 25 is set to hear arguments on Trump's claim that he has immunity from prosecution on federal charges brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith related to his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden.

The case originally had been scheduled to go to trial on March 4, but it is now on hold. The Supreme Court's decision to hear arguments on the schedule it set for the case reduces the chances that a trial could wrap up before the election. 

On Jan. 6, 2021, Trump's supporters attacked the Capitol - assaulting police and breaking into the building - after the then-president gave a speech telling them to march there and "fight like hell" to prevent the election from being "stolen." The rampage came on the day Congress had met to certify Biden's victory. Prosecutors said Trump exploited the attack, spurning advice that he quickly send a message directing the rioters to leave. 

Trump and others also organized fraudulent slates of electors in seven states, all of which he lost, to be certified as official by Congress in a bid to thwart certification of Biden's victory, the indictment said. 

Trump pleaded not guilty on Aug. 3, 2023, to a four-count indictment, which presented examples of Trump's false claims of widespread voting fraud and noted that close advisers, including senior intelligence officials, told him the election results were legitimate.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in February rejected the contention made by Trump's lawyers that former presidents cannot face criminal charges for conduct related to their official responsibilities. 

The D.C. Circuit concluded that any executive immunity that may have shielded Trump from criminal charges while he served as president "no longer protects him against this prosecution."

NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL CIVIL LAWSUIT

Trump on Feb. 16 was ordered to pay $354.9 million in penalties after a New York state judge, Justice Arthur Engoron, ruled last September that the former president repeatedly committed fraud, overstating his net worth by as much as $3.6 billion a year. 

That came in a civil fraud lawsuit filed on Sept. 21, 2022, by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat. The lawsuit accused Trump and his family real estate business, the Trump Organization, of lying from 2011 to 2021 about his net worth and the value of his properties to obtain better terms from lenders and insurers. These properties included his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and Trump Tower penthouse in Manhattan.

With daily interest that began to accrue in 2019, the payout had grown to $454.2 million with interest by Feb. 22, and additional interest is tacked on each day. 

Trump posted a $175 million bond while he appeals the judgment, averting state seizure of his assets to satisfy the verdict. An April 22 hearing was scheduled after James said the surety company Trump used to secure the bond must show it has sufficient assets to pay if the appeal fails. 

GEORGIA ELECTION-SUBVERSION CHARGES

Trump on Aug. 31, 2023, pleaded not guilty to state criminal charges in Georgia arising from his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss to Biden. A grand jury indicted him after an investigation by the office of Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat.

He was charged with 13 felony counts, accused of pressuring state officials to reverse his election loss in Georgia and setting up a fake slate of electors to undermine the congressional certification of Biden's victory. 

Trump and 18 co-defendants were charged under Georgia's broadly written Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act that originally targeted the mafia. Counts against Trump include racketeering, conspiracy to commit forgery and conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer.

The judge later dismissed six counts, including three against Trump, after finding the indictment did not include enough detail on those. 

In January, a controversy erupted over a personal relationship Willis had with Nathan Wade, the special counsel she hired. Following months of legal wrangling, Judge Scott McAfee in March ruled that Willis could remain on the case, but said that Wade must step down, which he did. 

Other co-defendants in the case include Mark Meadows, Trump's former White House chief of staff, and lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman. They have pleaded not guilty.

Four people charged in the case, including former Trump lawyers Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro and Jenna Ellis, pleaded guilty after striking deals with prosecutors.

No trial date has been set.

SPECIAL COUNSEL'S CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS CHARGES

Trump pleaded not guilty on June 13, 2023, and again on Aug. 4, 2023, to charges brought by Smith in federal court in south Florida that he unlawfully kept classified national security documents after leaving office in January 2021 and misled officials who sought to recover them. Trump faces 40 criminal counts in the case.

The documents included information about the U.S. nuclear program and potential vulnerabilities in the event of an attack, according to the indictment. Smith accused Trump of risking national secrets by taking thousands of sensitive papers with him when he left the White House and storing them haphazardly at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and golf club in New Jersey.

The charges include violations of the Espionage Act, which criminalizes unauthorized possession of national defense information, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

A May 20 trial date was set but is expected to be delayed. 

SEXUAL ABUSE AND DEFAMATION CIVIL LAWSUITS

A jury in Manhattan on Jan. 26 ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Carroll in her defamation lawsuit against him. Jurors found that Trump harmed Carroll and acted with malice when he defamed her by denying in 2019 that he raped her in the mid-1990s in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan.  

On May 9, 2023, another jury ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million over his similar October 2022 denial, finding that he had defamed and sexually abused Carroll. 

Trump has denied any encounter with Carroll and accused her of making up her story to sell her memoir.

He has appealed both rulings.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax, Luc Cohen, Karen Freifeld, Susan Heavey, Sarah N. Lynch, Jonathan Stempel and Jack Queen; Editing by Will Dunham, Noeleen Walder and Lisa Shumaker)

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