Trump suffers legal setbacks in very bad week

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Donald Trump had a rough week — and it’s only Thursday.

With the legal protections he enjoyed as the president disappeared from view, Trump was reminded time and again that the risks of criminal and civil action are greater than ever since he stepped on the golden escalator at Trump Tower in Manhattan in 2015. and declared himself president.

While Trump has spent much of his adult life embroiled in lawsuits, sometimes avoiding the worst consequences, the past week graphically illustrated that he is now in serious legal peril. He is widely expected to earn the GOP nomination again in 2024.

Last Thursday, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who is investigating Trump and his allies’ efforts to reverse the results of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election, said she has heard credible information that crimes have been committed.

“The allegations are very serious. If indicted and convicted, people risk jail time,” Willis told the Washington Post.

So far, at least 17 people in Trump’s orbit have been notified that they are the target of Willis’ criminal investigation. She told the Post that her team has not yet decided whether to seek Trump’s testimony. But an important piece of evidence is Trump himself speaking: The office of Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger recorded that the president pressured election officials to “find 11,780 votes” — the exact number needed to cover his loss to Joe Biden. to reverse the battlefield state.

In response to Willis’ assessment that her investigation could potentially lead to convictions and jail time for at least some involved, Trump took to his personal social networking site.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks at a news conference in Atlanta, Georgia, US, May 11, 2021. REUTERS/Linda So

She bases her potential claims on trying to find a little word or phrase (that isn’t there) during an absolutely PERFECT phone conversation about widespread electoral fraud in Georgia, with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and many lawyers and other officials who were knowingly line, had no issues with the call and did not raise any objections or complaints about anything I said on the call that could be perceived as inappropriate,” Trump wrote to Truth Social. “A strictly political witch hunt!”

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Trump’s legal danger extends far beyond Georgia. The most high-profile ongoing investigation stems from the Justice Department’s seizure of top-secret documents found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, in clear violation of federal law.

The former president secured a short-lived legal victory last Thursday when a district judge appointed by him, Aileen Cannon, ruled that the Justice Department could not continue investigating the documents. until a court-appointed special captain reviewed more than 11,000 records in question to determine whether they were protected by executive or attorney-client privilege. The legal wrangle threatened to delay the investigation considerably.

But on Wednesday a federal appeals court ruled that Cannon had erred in prohibiting the Justice Department from: continue the investigation of the documents while the special captain did his investigation. The three-member panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, two of whom had been appointed by Trump, unanimously held back part of Cannon’s much-criticized earlier ruling.

In its ruling, the appeals court also mocked Trump and his lawyers’ explanations as to why he had kept the documents.

“[Trump] has not even attempted to demonstrate that he needs the information contained in the classified documents,” the panel said in its statement. “He also has not established that the current government has waived that requirement for these documents.”

Judge Raymond Dearie presides over his first public hearing since his appointment as special master to review documents seized by the FBI from Donald Trump's Florida home last month, in a New York, US courtroom, September 20, 2022 REUTERS/ Jane Rosenberg

Judge Raymond Dearie presides over his first public hearing since his appointment as special master to review documents seized by the FBI last month from Donald Trump’s Florida home, in a New York, US courtroom, September 20, 2022 REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

Key to Trump’s legal strategy is his claim that he released the documents before storing them at his Florida home and country club.

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But on Tuesday, Judge Raymond Dearie, who had appointed Cannon as special master, threw cold water on that claim. During his first 40-minute hearing with lawyers for the former president and administration, Dearie repeatedly urged Trump’s legal team for their refusal to provide evidence that Trump had indeed released any material clearly marked as highly sensitive.

“My opinion is, you can’t have your cake and eat it,” Dearie said, adding that he would finish his review by the end of November.

On Monday, the New York Times also reported that White House attorney Eric Herschmann had informed Trump late last year that he could face potential legal consequences if he did not immediately return the documents he took to Mar-a-Lago.

(Herschmann testified before the House Jan. 6 Select Committee about actions taken by Trump and his allies in the run-up to and after the deadly U.S. Capitol riot. He has also been subpoenaed by the Justice Department regarding to his own investigation into the Capitol attack.)

On Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced she was suing Trump and his three oldest children for corporate fraud after a long-running investigation into how the Trump Organization allegedly inflated real estate values ​​to obtain favorable loan rates and pay less. in taxes.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21: NY Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference at the Attorney General's Office on September 21, 2022 in New York City, New York.  NY AG James announced today that her office is suing former President Donald J. Trump and his children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump who accuse the family of fraudulent statements about financial terms in order to obtain millions in economic benefits.  The lawsuit aims to remove Trump and his children from their roles with their organizations and ban them from future leadership roles in the state of NY and repay $250 million illegally obtained.  (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

NY Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference at the Attorney General’s office on September 21, 2022 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

“I am announcing today that we are filing a lawsuit against Donald Trump for violating the law as part of his efforts to generate profits for himself, his family and his company,” James said at a news conference Wednesday. “The complaint shows that Donald Trump has falsely inflated his wealth by billions of dollars to unjustifiably enrich himself and defraud the system, thereby defrauding us all.”

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If James can prove her case in court, the results could be damaging to Trump’s business empire. The lawsuit seeks $250 million in damages, the removal of Trump and his three children from their positions in the Trump Organization, the appointment of an independent monitor for five years to oversee the company’s compliance with the law, a ban on the commercial reality of the company’s estate acquisitions for five years, and a permanent ban on Trump — and Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka Trump — from serving as an officer or directory of a New York corporation.

James also announced Wednesday that she would file a criminal referral with federal prosecutors and a tax fraud referral with the IRS. That could lead to yet another federal investigation that could lead to criminal charges, and, if convicted, Trump could face the possibility of jail time.

In response to the lawsuit, Trump attacked James, who is black, by unjustifiably labeling her as a racist.

“Another witch hunt by a racist Attorney General, Letitia James,” Trump wrote, adding that James was “a fraud campaigning on a ‘get Trump’ platform, despite the city being one of the city’s crime and murderous disasters of the world under her care!”

Former President Donald Trump will be interviewed on Fox News on September 21.  (Fox News)

Former President Donald Trump will be interviewed on TAUT News on September 21. (TAUT News)

Trump ended Wednesday on TAUT News, where he put forward another new explanation for his handling of the classified documents.

“You’re the president of the United States,” the former president told host Sean Hannity, “you can declassify just by saying ‘it’s been released’, even thinking about it because you’re bringing it to Mar-a-Lago.” or wherever you send it and there doesn’t have to be a process. There may be a process, but it doesn’t have to be.”

A legal expert told Yahoo News the argument makes no sense.

“It’s not just nonsense; it’s bullshit on stilts. It’s almost delusional,” said Paul Rosenzweig, a law professor at George Washington University and former deputy assistant secretary for policy in the Department of Homeland Security.

“The whole point of a classification system is to tell people how to handle certain types of documents — that is, what precautions to take regarding their handling,” Rosenzweig added. “A classification system where only the ex-president knows their true classifications at heart is the definition of absurdist anarchy.”

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