Donald Trump wept Monday after FBI agents searched his residence at the Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, as fellow Republicans rushed to defend him as a victim of prosecution.
The execution of a search warrant at the former president’s home has highlighted the extent of the legal troubles that have dogged Trump since he left office in January 2021, leaving a cloud over his ambitions to run for the White House again in 2024.
The attack on Trump’s residence was particularly significant because it indicated that federal prosecutors and the US Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Merrick Garland, and the FBI, led by Trump appointee Christopher Wray, have the ‘former president in sight despite the controversy. has created
“I think the fact that they went to the trouble of doing this, knowing that there would be a Trumpian response, indicates that whatever they’re after, it’s probably relatively important,” said Michael Gerhardt, a law professor. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “It seems pretty inevitable to me that this will happen sooner or later.”
It remains unclear whether the DoJ has the evidence, intent, or political will to go one step further and charge Trump with illegal conduct. Meanwhile, local prosecutors in Georgia and New York have also moved forward with investigations into the former president.
Here are some of Trump’s biggest legal risks.
Monday’s raid on Mar-a-Lago was connected to a federal investigation into Trump’s handling of classified information from his days in the White House. Last February, the National Archives said 15 boxes of sensitive government material had been found at the Florida club, a finding Garland confirmed would be examined by the Justice Department.
Among the documents were letters to Trump from Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, as well as one from Barack Obama, according to US media. Little else is known about their contents beyond the fact that they are classified for national security reasons. If Trump tampered with, destroyed, concealed or obstructed access to these presidential records he could face charges.
“If a president or a former official has documents that aren’t really theirs, I don’t think we’d be too surprised by a government investigation,” Gerhardt said. “Government documents could be top secret. Yes, they could be incriminating, but the most important thing to understand is that these documents are not the property of the person who has them. They are the property of the US government.”
January 6 investigation
Trump was already impeached by the House of Representatives for his actions in connection with the January 6 assault on the US Capitol, as he encouraged the mob trying to overturn the result of the 2020 election. But he was not convicted by the Senate, which could have prevented him from running for office again.
For a while it appeared that Trump had avoided any legal consequences of the insurgency. But when a bipartisan congressional panel delved this year into the former president’s conduct in the days leading up to and during the riot itself, including public testimony pointing to his intent to join the mob storming the Capitol, put him in danger once more.
Liz Cheney, the Republican vice chair of the Jan. 6 committee, has suggested there is enough evidence for Trump to be prosecuted. The court may refer its findings in the case to the prosecutors of the Department of Justice.
Certification of 2020 Georgia election results
Fani Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County in Georgia, has been investigating the actions of Trump and his allies after the 2020 election. The former president lobbied top Georgia election officials, including the secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, which gave him 15 electoral college votes in the state. Trump blasted Raffensperger during a phone call in early January 2021 for “finding” the more than 10,000 votes that separated him from Biden in the election.
A grand jury has been convened to assess the case and whether there is enough evidence to bring charges. Willis has sought to interview several witnesses and allies of Trump, including Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York and Trump’s lawyer, and Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina.
New York property
The most serious of the legal problems facing Trump for many months appeared to come from prosecutors in New York, where former District Attorney Cyrus Vance succeeded in indicting the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg on charges of tax fraud.
Although new District Attorney Alvin Bragg has said the investigation is continuing, the case faced a major setback after two top prosecutors, Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, abruptly resigned this year.
Letitia James, the New York state attorney general, is moving forward separately with a civil case alleging Trump inflated the value of his real estate assets. Trump has confirmed that he will be questioned by James’ office on Wednesday in connection with the investigation.
“In New York City tonight. Seeing the racist New York Attorney General tomorrow, for a continuation of the biggest witch hunt in US history,” he wrote on his Truth Social platform, referencing to James, who is black. “My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides. Banana Republic!”
As he faces questions about alleged financial improprieties, Trump suffered a separate setback on Tuesday when a federal appeals court ruled that his tax returns, which he has long sought to shield from public scrutiny, they could be handed over to Congress.