Explainer-Trump says the FBI is raiding his Florida property.  What legal problems is he facing?

By Luc Cohen

(Reuters) – Former U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach, Florida. Law enforcement officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Trump’s claims.

The focus of the investigation was not immediately clear. Here’s a look at some of the investigations and lawsuits Trump is facing.

MISSING NATIONAL RECORDS

The US National Archives and Records Administration notified Congress in February that it had recovered about 15 boxes of White House documents from Trump’s home in Florida, some of which contained classified materials.

The US House Oversight Committee at the time said it was expanding an investigation into Trump’s actions and asked the Archives to turn over additional information. Trump previously confirmed that he had agreed to return certain records to the Archives, calling it “an ordinary and routine process.”

JAN. 6 ATTACK ON THE UNITED STATES CAPITOL

A congressional panel investigating the January 6, 2021 assault by Trump supporters on the US Capitol is working to build a case that he broke the law by trying to overturn his 2020 election loss. .

Vice Chair Liz Cheney has said the committee could make multiple referrals to the Justice Department seeking criminal charges against Trump, who accuses the panel of conducting a bogus investigation.

In a March 2 court filing, the committee detailed Trump’s efforts to persuade then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject voter rolls for Democrat Joe Biden, who won the election, or delay counting those votes in the election. Congress.

Trump’s efforts likely violated a federal law that makes it illegal to “corruptly” obstruct or attempt to obstruct any official proceeding, said David Carter, the California federal judge overseeing the case.

In the March 2 filing, the committee said Trump and others were likely conspiring to defraud the United States. That law criminalizes any effort by two or more persons to interfere with government functions “by trickery, cunning, or deceit.”

In addition to Trump’s efforts to pressure Pence, the committee cited his attempts to convince state election officials, the public and members of Congress that he stole the 2020 election, despite several allies telling him not to. there was evidence of fraud.

The committee cannot charge Trump with federal crimes. That decision must be made by the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

If the Justice Department files charges, prosecutors’ main challenge will be proving Trump acted with corrupt intent, experts said.

Trump could defend himself by arguing that he sincerely believed he won the election and that his well-documented efforts to pressure Pence and state election officials were not intended to obstruct Congress or defraud the United States, but to protect the integrity of the election.

Trump could also be charged with “seditious conspiracy,” an underused statute that makes it illegal to overthrow the US government by force. To prove this, prosecutors would have to show that Trump conspired with others to use force, said Barbara McQuade, a law professor at the University of Michigan and a former federal prosecutor.

Multiple participants in the Jan. 6 Capitol storming have been charged with seditious conspiracy.

ELECTRONIC FRAUD

Democrats said at a June committee hearing on Jan. 6 that Trump, a Republican, raised about $250 million from his supporters to file fraudulent claims in court that he won the election, but diverted much of the money elsewhere. part.

This raises the possibility that he could be charged with wire fraud, which prohibits getting money with “false or fraudulent pretenses,” legal experts said.

GEORGIA ELECTION MANIPULATION PROBE

A special grand jury was selected in May to consider evidence in a Georgia prosecutor’s investigation into Trump’s alleged efforts to influence the results of the 2020 state election.

The investigation centers in part on a phone call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, on January 2, 2021.

Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” the votes needed to overturn Trump’s electoral loss, according to an audio recording obtained by the Washington Post.

Legal experts said Trump may have violated at least three Georgia criminal election laws: conspiracy to commit voter fraud, criminal solicitation to commit voter fraud and willful interference in the performance of election duties.

Trump could argue that he was participating in free speech and that he did not intend to influence the election.

NEW YORK CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION

Alvin Bragg, the district attorney for Manhattan, has been investigating whether the Trump family’s real estate company misrepresented its property values ​​to get favorable bank loans and lower tax bills.

Two top lawyers who had been at the helm of the investigation resigned in February, casting doubt on the future of the investigation, but Bragg’s office has said it is continuing.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and said the investigation is politically motivated. Bragg is a Democrat.

DOES A PRESIDENTIAL RACE MEAN TRUMP CANNOT BE PROSECUTED?

No. While the Justice Department has a decades-old policy that a sitting president cannot be impeached, there is no such protection for presidential candidates. However, prosecuting a candidate could have political implications, said Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University.

β€œI am not aware of any constitutional reason why a presidential candidate would have any kind of criminal immunity.”

NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL CIVIL INVESTIGATION

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is conducting a civil investigation to examine whether the Trump Organization inflated real estate values. Trump and two of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, have agreed to testify in the inquest beginning July 15.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the investigation politically motivated. James is a Democrat.

E. JEAN CARROLL DEFAMATION CASE

E. Jean Carroll, a former Elle magazine writer, sued Trump for defamation in 2019 after the then-president denied her allegation that he raped her in the 1990s at a New York City department store. He accused her of lying to increase book sales.

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan is about to decide whether Carroll’s lawsuit should be dismissed.

An attorney for Trump has argued that he is protected by a federal law that makes government employees immune from defamation claims.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Howard Goller)

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