Donald Trump is not out of the legal woods yet. He has already been indicted for allegedly falsifying business records in a payment scheme to hush rumors of an extramarital affair.
The former president also faces three more investigations that could result in indictments.
These include his activities leading up to, during, and after the January 6 insurrection; the probe into his alleged meddling with the 2020 presidential election in Georgia; and his classified documents case.
As a former Donald Trump White House official explained to 19FortyFive: “Donald Trump could get legally destroyed.”
Let’s look at the status of those three investigations.
January 6 Saga
Donald Trump still says that he won the 2020 presidential election. He wanted state election honchos to change election results in the close races that he lost. Trump then invited his followers to come to Washington, DC for a “wild” demonstration on January 6. On that day, Trump gave a speech in which he told the crowd to march to Capitol Hill and “fight like hell.” The rioters descended on the Capitol complex and raised bedlam that resulted in an attempted insurrection to fight a peaceful transfer of power. Trump made no move until several hours later, when he told the mob, “We have to have peace. Go home.”
Potential prosecutors including Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith are looking into whether Trump incited the violence. The congressional committee that investigated January 6 recommended Trump be charged with obstruction of an official proceeding; conspiracy to make false statements; conspiracy to defraud the United States; and assisting and aiding an insurrection.
This case, however, is not a clear slam dunk against Trump. He did not explicitly say to storm the capitol, and he did ultimately tell the crowd to disperse.
Georgia Election Calls
The situation in Georgia has other legal complications for Trump. A special grand jury has already convened. A traditional criminal grand jury could hand down indictments by September that include charges of racketeering for interfering with an election. The Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis, believes she has smoking gun evidence consisting of a recording of a phone call to the Georgia secretary of state to “find” Trump around 12,000 votes that would flip the election in Trump’s favor.
Trump has maintained that his call was “perfect.” His lawyers could also defend Trump and say that the former president was simply asking for a review of the votes and that he had no criminal intent to change them.
Classified Documents Imbroglio
Next is the situation with classified documents that were found in Trump’s home. Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice, as well as violating the Espionage Act and the Presidential Records Act. The FBI searched Mar-a-Lago in August of last year and found more than 100 secret papers that reportedly belong to the National Archives. These were mixed in with personal keepsakes including magazine articles and other types of items. The DOJ is looking at whether Trump and his staff hid the documents after a subpoena asked for them back.
One aspect of the case that could hurt Trump is that the DOJ has reportedly obtained a recording of Trump speaking at a meeting discussing a military-related secret document that he admitted was not fully declassified.
Trump’s lawyers could say that his retention of most of the classified documents was accidental, that he as commander-in-chief is the ultimate arbiter into what is classified or not, and that he declassified the records before taking possession of them. The prosecutors may also not want to charge Trump because of the political backlash against such a legal action.
Donald Trump is expected to defend himself vigorously against all court cases. The most serious of the potential charges would be the insurrection accusations, and the least serious would stem from the classified documents case. He could be indicted in all three cases or not indicted at all. It is almost assured that he will keep running for president during the potential investigations, even if he is arrested and found guilty. He could seek the presidency from jail like socialist Eugene Debs did in 1920. Trump’s legal teams are adept at stringing out due process and are expected to file numerous motions to dismiss the potential charges or attempt to delay their adjudication until after the election in 2024.
Author Expertise and Experience
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.