Lawsuits and investigations have hung over Donald Trump throughout his business career, then his presidency.
He’s reportedly faced an estimated 4,000 cases, plus two (unsuccessful) impeachments, two (successful) divorces, six bankruptcies, and 26 sexual misconduct allegations. Things are only going to get worse now that he’s a private citizen again, without the backing of the Justice Department.
No former president has ever been indicted for criminal conduct, and presidents are argued to have immunity from prosecution while in office, but things have changed.
The usually blustery ex-president reportedly told an associate that since leaving office, he’s worried people across the country are going to be “suing me for the rest of my life.”
He now faces more than a dozen high-profile lawsuits and investigations. A recent Washington Post analysis put the total number at 29 pending cases. Here’s what you need to know.
The Capitol Riots and the 2020 Election
The president faces a number of big lawsuits relating to his conduct during the 2020 election—and especially on 6 January, the day a mob of pro-Trump supporters attacked the Capitol after a fiery speech from Mr Trump.
In February, congressman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, sued the president for allegedly inciting the riot, alongside his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani and right-wing extremist groups. In March, California Democrat Eric Swalwell filed a similar suit, which also included Donald Trump Jr, the ex-president’s son, and Alabama congressman Mo Brooks.
Jason Miller, a Trump senior advisor, said in response to the suits that the president didn’t organise “did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6th”.
District of Columbia attorney general Karl Racine has said he is collaborating with federal prosecutors and investigating whether Mr Trump’s alleged role in the riots violated any DC laws, though no charges have been filed.
Prosecutors in Atlanta, meanwhile, have focused on Mr Trump’s conduct before the riots, such as a now infamous tape of Mr Trump urging Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensberger, a Republican, to “find” just enough votes to overturn the state’s election results. And Mr Raffesnberger’s office is also investigating Mr Trump.
Mr Miller has described that investigation as a “witch hunt” and “Democrats’ latest attempt to score political points”.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund is also suing Mr Trump over the election, accusing him, his campaign, and the Republican National Committee of attempting to overturn the election, in violating of the Voting Rights Act and Reconstruction-era Klu Klux Klan act.
At the end of March, two Capitol police officers also filed a suit against Mr Trump for damages over the “physical and emotional injuries” they suffered during and after the riot. James Blassingame and Sidney Hemb are seeking compensation in excess of $75,000 plus interest and costs each.
The former president also faces two ongoing suits related to sexual harassment allegations, both of which he has denied, prompting defamation suits from his accusers.
One case comes from the restaurateur Summer Zervos, who worked with Mr Trump as a contestant on The Apprentice. She said during the 2016 campaign that Mr Trump kissed and groped her against her will, which the president dismissed as a “hoax.” The case is currently before the New York Court of Appeals, the highest New York state court.
The suit is from former Elle magazine columnist E Jean Carroll, who accused the president of raping her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s. Mr Trump has said she was “totally lying” about the allegation. The DOJ has argued at appeal that Mr Trump shouldn’t face the suit, as his comments were related to his work as a federal employee because they concerned his fitness for office.
Business and Fraud Cases
The former president’s sprawling business empire is another target for legal action. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R Vance, Jr, a Democrat, has been leading a criminal investigation against Mr Trump for more than a year over hush money payments to women accusing him of affairs during the presidential campaigns, as well as potential fraud relating to allegedly selectively devaluing and inflating the value of his business’s assets for tax and loan benefits.
New York attorney general Letitia James has been pursuing a similar civil investigation, which includes whether the Trump Organization tried to write off consulting fees it paid to Ivanka Trump, the ex-president’s daughter.
On 18 May, James’ office announced that it would be expanding its civil probe into the former president and that the investigation is no longer “purely civil in nature”. "We are now actively investigating the Trump Organisation in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA," a spokesperson for the office said.
Meanwhile, investors at Ithaca Capital who bought a Panama hotel property associated with Mr Trump are suing his hotel management firm, alleging it exaggerated the value of the site during negotiations to purchase it.
Finally, a group of anonymous people has filed a class-action suit against the Trump family and business arguing they used the Trump brand to scam investors into paying for worthless business ventures. Mr Trump is appealing the suit after previously trying to force it into arbitration.
Alan Garten, general counsel for the Trump Organisation, has previously said all Trump business practices were above board.
"Everything was done in strict compliance with applicable law and under the advice of counsel and tax experts." he previously told the New York Times. "All applicable taxes were paid and no party received any undue benefit,” he added.
Another suit mixes business and politics, much as president Trump and his family did throughout his administration.
Last January, the DC attorney general filed a lawsuit claiming Mr Trump’s inauguration committee overpaid the Trump International Hotel in 2017 during the festivities.
Other Suits and Potential Cases
In addition to suits against the Trump family, there are legal fights within it. Mary Trump, the former president’s niece, has a pending case accusing Mr Trump of defrauding her of millions of dollars in an inheritance dispute.
Mr Trump’s real estate empire has attracted numerous cases as well: a recent Washington Post analysis found that 18 pending suits relate to his properties, ranging from slip-and-fall lawsuits, to allegations of bed bugs at a Las Vegas hotel, to former and current tenants who say the Trumps schemed them with phony rent invoices.
There are also a number of simmering legal questions that could turn into future cases, such as Mr Trump’s actions highlighted in the Mueller report, to potential suits against those involved in the Capitol riots that could name the ex-president, to a residency fracas in Palm Beach, Florida, where the town is pondering whether it is legal for Mr Trump to live at his Mar-a-Lago club and golf result there.
How’s he going to pay for all of this?
While Mr Trump’s business may have taken a $700 million hit since he was president, he remains a wealthy man, and a recently formed post-presidential Trump political action committee raised more than $31 million, which he could use for his surely enormous legal expenses.
The Trump Organisation, congressman Mo Brooks, Rudy Giuliani, and the RNC did not respond to a request for comment from The Independent.
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