History in the making: A jury is about to rule on whether the past president of the United States is guilty of a crime

Here is a quick summary of the multiple legal challenges covered by the blog and faced by Trump in the weeks and months ahead.

  • Trump is the first ex-presidential to face a criminal trial, which began April 15. Testimony in the trial concluded May 21. Closing arguments were held May 28 with jury deliberations beginning May 29. A post-testimony CBS News poll finds 56% say Donald Trump is definitely or probably guilty of a crime in the trial, in which he has been charged with falsifying business records to hide a "hush money" payment and influence the 2016 election. For summary of closing arguments and predictions and comments on the jury's upcoming decision, see below at "Manhattan grand jury indicts Trump on criminal charges, trial underway."  
  • The trial date for Donald Trump has not been set in a Georgia county although District Attorney Fani Willis has asked the court that it begin Aug. 5. It may have  to be moved even later after the Georgia Court of Appeals recently decided to consider whether DA Fani Willis should stay on the case. Both Willis and the judge in the case, Scott McAfee, won re-election on May 21.
  • The New York judge handling the Jan. 6 Capitol riot/election interference case against Trump postponed the March 4 trial date, waiting for a Supreme Court decision on Trump's immunity claim. On Feb. 6 the D.C. appeals court ruled the former president does not have absolute immunity.  The Supreme Court heard arguments on April 25. Trump is hoping the court will also provide him total immunity related to the multiple criminal and civil suits filed against him. The court is not expected to rule until late June(Blog editor's statement: Granting Trump, Biden and future president's post-presidential immunity would change the very foundation of 248-years of American democracy.)
  • Florida Federal Judge Aileen Cannon had set a trial date of May 20 for Trump's retention of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Trump has pled not guilty to 40 felony counts. Special Counsel Smith is now asking for a July 8 start of the trial and Trump asked for an Aug. 12 start date. But on May 7 Judge Cannon postponed the trial start date indefinitely. CNN reported the judge's new schedule lays out all the legal disputes that Cannon must decide before a jury could hear the case. Cannon said that process will take at least until late July of this year. Liberal legal commentator Joyce Vance noted, "There was little doubt before last week that federal Judge Aileen Cannon was determined to delay Trump's criminal case in front of her—the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case—until after the election. Now, there is none."
  • Jessica Piper at Politico on May 18 reported on an analysis of over 15 months from 2023 through March of this year showing "Trump's complicated web of political committees spent roughly $217 million through March, with that spending split roughly equally between fundraising expenses, legal bills and actual campaigning. But the same network of groups brought in a bit shy of $220 million in new contributions." According to other researchers, Trump's political committees have spent at least $16.7 million on legal bills so far this year.

  • Featured headline of the week:  "Samuel Alito blames upside-down flag on wife Ginnie Thomas." - The Onion

For more on each of the trials discussed above, see blog index immediately below. For a timeline of the many legal and financial dates facing the former president as well as the GOP primary, see "Calendar: Trials, hearings, appeals, deadlines" at bottom of blog.

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Blog updated May 29

For daily updates, follow me on X at Raygiles1

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Blog Index

Trump's trials

  • Georgia county grand jury indicts Trump and 18 allies for effort to overturn state election, trial date not set
  • Federal grand jury indicts Donald Trump for Jan. 6 coup attempt, trial on hold while Supreme Court considers appeal
  • Manhattan grand jury indicts Trump on criminal charges, trial underway, plus daily trial notes
  • Trump indicted for refusing to return top-secret government documents; judge drops May 20 trial date, plus timeline of Mar-a-Lago documents case, alleged crimes, the federal investigation and indictment

Active lawsuits

  • Partner, estate of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick blame Trump, followers for his death

  • NAACP, Democrat House members file lawsuit for Jan. 6 attack on Capitol; Trump, Pence don't see "eye to eye" on Jan. 6 violence
  • Trump and GOP face lawsuit claiming they violated the Ku Klux Klan Act
  • Rep. Swalwell files lawsuit alleging Trump, others responsible for Jan. 6 riot
  • Trump faces five separate lawsuits by Capitol and D.C. police for Jan. 6 riot
  • More Trump "Big Lie" fallout: Smartmatic sues Fox News for $2.7 billion, Newsmax for $1.6 billion and settles with OAN 
  • Truth Social, Trump's go-to platform, completes successful merger, lawsuits fly

Investigations

  • House Select Committee completes investigation of Jan. 6 riot, forwards criminal referrals to DOJ; plus 68 Days That Will Live in Infamy - Oct. 31, 2020 thru Jan. 6, 2021
  • Justice Department, states investigate and file charges against GOP plot to submit fake Electoral College votes, Trump named as unindicted co-conspirator 

  • Trump's A-Team: The aides, staff and supporters who have been indicted, sued, disbarred, sanctioned, gone bankrupt and promoted and praised

Trump appeals

  • New York AG sues Trump for $250 million, judge rules he owes $454 million, Trump pays $175 million to appeal, plus trial notes

  • E. Jean Carroll sues, wins $5 million, sues for $10 million, awarded $83.3 million, Trump pays that much to appeal, plus notes from both trials

Disposition of six Trump-related cases

  • Colorado, Illinois bar Trump from 2024 ballot but most states and Supreme Court reject 14th Amendment argument
  • Trump "Big Lie" fallout: Dominion sues Fox News for $1.6 billion, settles for $787.5 million and Tucker Carlson's hide
  • Trump Organization found guilty on 17 counts of tax fraud, other crimes,
plus trial notes
  • DC Attorney General, Trump Organization settle case over misuse of Inaugural funds
  • Judge dismisses Trump lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, James Comey and others; imposes $1 million fine on Trump and lawyer 
  • Trump pays nearly $400,000 to New York Times for failed lawsuit, then sues ABC News


Calendar: Trials, hearings, appeals, deadlines and presidential politics

List of news and commentary sources used in blog

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Trump's trials

Georgia county grand jury indicts Trump and 18 allies for effort to overturn state election, trial date not set

The Latest: "Two of the most prominent figures in the Georgia criminal case against former president Donald Trump easily won their respective elections in their first appearance on the ballot since the inception of the high-profile election interference case," the Washington Post reported May 21.

"Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis defeated challenger Christian Wise Smith in Georgia's Democratic primary as she seeks another four-year term as the Atlanta-area's top prosecutor, according to an Associated Press projection."

"Meanwhile, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the election case, was elected to his first full term since being appointed to the court last year, defeating challenger Robert Patillo."

And in related news, the Georgia Court of Appeals has decided to hear an appeal of a judge's ruling allowing District Attorney Fani Willis to remain at the helm of case against former President Trump, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported May 8.

The court's decision almost certainly means a significant delay of a trial here for Trump and his 14 co-defendants and signals that Willis could still be disqualified from the case, the biggest in her career and one she spent years assembling. It is unclear how long the busy appeals court will take to decide the issue but it could stretch into 2025.

"There's no way this case gets to trial this year," said Atlanta defense attorney Andrew Fleischman, who is closing following the case. "I would expect the appeals court to issue its opinion sometime next year."

Background:  The district attorney's office in Fulton County formally launched a criminal probe in February, 2021 into former President Trump's efforts to overturn his election loss in Georgia after Trump was heard in a Jan. 2, 2021 phone call pleading with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" votes. "All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes," the exact number Trump needed to overturn Joe Biden's win in Georgia. Trump argued that Raffensperger could change the certified results of the presidential election, an assertion the secretary of state firmly rejected.

A month earlier, on Dec. 5, 2020 President Trump called the state's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, to urge him to use his "emergency powers" to block the certification of the results, hold a special session of the legislature to overturn the election results and name a slate of Republican electors to award Trump the state's 16 electoral votes. Kemp, a former election official, told Trump he didn't have such powers.

Three days later, Trump called Georgia's Republican attorney general, Chris Carr, warning him not to interfere with a Texas lawsuit that challenged the election results in Georgia and three other states. (The Supreme Court - including its three Trump-appointed justices - ultimately rejected even hearing the Texas lawsuit.)

According to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, "This investigation includes, but is not limited to, potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election's administration."

The Daily Beast reported prosecutors are also eyeing "false statement" charges against Rudy Giuliani, who acted on Trump's behalf when he spoke before Georgia's state Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Dec. 3, 2020 and detailed his rigged election conspiracy. Giuliani lied when he said the state counted 96,600 "phantom votes," repeating the same bonkers claim that fueled Sidney Powell's so-called "Kraken" lawsuit-which was tossed out by a federal judge.

Giuliani also presented fake evidence of voting machine flaws and "mystery ballot boxes." He repeated the claims on Dec. 10, 2020 before the state's House Governmental Affairs Committee. Another Trump attorney, John Eastman, testified at that same hearing, arguing that there was "more than enough" evidence of fraud and improper conduct to warrant Georgia lawmakers picking an alternative slate of presidential electors. Eastman falsely told state lawmakers that they had both the power and "duty" to replace the rightful slate of Democratic electors.

At a rally in Georgia on Sept. 25, 2021 former President Trump admitted trying to overturn the 2020 election in that state. According to Trump, after his aides failed to get Georgia officials to overturn their election, Trump told the rally that on Dec. 5, 2020 he called Gov. Kemp. "I said, 'Let me handle it. This is easy.' I got this guy elected.... I was going to show [the aides] how good I am. 'Let me handle it. I'll call them up.' I said, 'Brian, listen, you know you have a big election integrity problem in Georgia. I hope you can help us out and call a special election.'"

On Jan. 24, 2022 judges on Fulton County's Superior Court bench cleared the way for a special grand jury to be used in District Attorney Willis' investigations, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Chief Judge Christopher S. Brasher directed that the special grand jury be impaneled on May 2 and continue for a period "not to exceed 12 months." In asking the court to authorize the grand jury, Willis said her office has "received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia's administration of elections in 2020, including the State's election of President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions."

On June 2, Secretary of State Raffensperger testified before the grand jury about the infamous call Trump made to him and other attempts to overturn the state's 2020 election results, GPB News/NPR reported.

The special grand jury also subpoenaed key members of former President Trump's legal team, including Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, according to reports from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on July 5.

The Independent reported July 26 that Trump described on Truth Social his now-infamous phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as "perfect".

"Many people and lawyers, on both sides, were knowingly on the one call, I assumed the call was taped, there were Zero complaints or angry 'how dare you' charges made during the call, and no 'hang ups' by anyone aggrieved or insulted at what was said," he said. He added that he was "just doing [his] job as President, and seeking Fairness and the Truth."

NBC News reported that when former Trump lawyer Eastman appeared before the special grand jury he pleaded his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and invoked attorney-client privilege.

Politico's Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein reported that U.S. District Court Judge David Carter wrote in an 18-page opinion on Oct. 19 that emails from Eastman "show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public."

Attorneys for pro-Trump Republicans who claimed to be Georgia's legitimate presidential electors in 2020 (Biden, not Trump, won the state) claimed on Nov. 11 they were advised by the Trump campaign to cast "contingent" Electoral College ballots - just in case one of Trump's longshot legal challenges to the results succeeded, Politico reported.

The Fulton County special grand jury investigating former President Trump's attempts to overturn Georgia's 2020 presidential election results submitted its final report on Jan. 9, 2023 according to The Associated Press.

(For more information on the federal investigation into the effort in Georgia to overturn the election, see "Justice Department, states investigate and file charges against GOP plot to submit fake Electoral College votes" below.)

Portions of the report from the grand jury were released Feb. 16, revealing two findings from its monthslong probe but leaving many key questions unaddressed, CNN reported. The special grand jury "unanimously" concluded that there wasn't widespread voter fraud in Georgia in 2020, rejecting Trump's conspiracy theories after hearing "extensive testimony" from election officials, poll workers and other experts. The special grand jury also recommended that Fulton County District Attorney Willis consider indicting some witnesses for perjury.

And then on Feb. 21, the jury forewoman, Emily Kohrs, went on a media tour and reported that the special grand jury recommended indictments of multiple people on a range of charges in its report. "It is not a short list," Kohrs said, admitting it's more than a dozen.

Asked whether the jurors had recommended indicting Trump, Kohrs gave a cryptic answer: "You're not going to be shocked. It's not rocket science," adding "you won't be too surprised."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported March 15 that members of the special grand jury heard a recorded phone call in which Trump tried to pressure Georgia House Speaker David Ralston into convening a special state legislative session to throw out Biden's certified election victory. However, one juror who interviewed by the AJC says that Ralston, who has subsequently passed away, impressed him by shutting Trump down.

"[Ralston] basically cut the president off," the juror explained. "He said, 'I will do everything in my power that I think is appropriate.' ... He just basically took the wind out of the sails."

The plot to breach voting systems in Coffee County, Georgia was coordinated by members of Trump's legal team including Giuliani and Powell and is part of the broader criminal investigation into 2020 election interference.

The Washington Post reported May 5 at least eight of the 16 Georgia Republicans who convened in December 2020 to declare Donald Trump the winner of the presidential contest despite his loss in the state have accepted immunity deals.

"Prosecutors with the office of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told the eight that they will not be charged with crimes if they testify truthfully in her sprawling investigation into efforts by Trump, his campaign and his allies to overturn Joe Biden's victory in Georgia."

At a CNN Town Hall broadcast May 10, former President Trump expressed no regrets over his phone conversation with Raffensperger pressuring him to find enough votes in the Peach State to overturn the 2020 presidential election. "Yeah, I called questioning the election. I thought it was a rigged election. I thought it had a lot of problems," Trump said. "And if this call was bad, why didn't him and his lawyers hang up?"

A grand jury to consider indicting former President Trump and his allies was seated on July 11.

The Georgia state Supreme Court on July 17 unanimously rejected Trump's motion to "quash" Willis' special grand jury report, to block her from prosecuting him, and to bar her from using any evidence the grand jury obtained to charge him criminally or civilly.

And then Fox News reported Aug. 14 that Trump was indicted in Georgia for his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state.

Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, attorneys Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, Kenneth Chesebro, Jeff Clark, John Eastman, Georgia GOP Chair David Shafer and 10 others, were also charged. (Note: Thirteen of the 30 unindicted co-conspirators were "fake electors" in the scheme to thwart the legitimate counting of Electoral College ballots on Jan. 6, 2021.)

The indictment charges the defendants with violating the Georgia RICO Act—the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; Solicitation of Violation of Oath by a Public Officer; Conspiracy to Commit Impersonating a Public Officer; Conspiracy to Commit Forgery in the First Degree; Conspiracy to Commit False Statements and Writings; Conspiracy to Commit Filing False Documents; Conspiracy to Commit Forgery in the First Degree; Filing False Documents; and Solicitation of Violation of Oath by a Public Officer.

CNN reported the 41-count indictment alleges Trump and the other 18 defendants "unlawfully conspired and endeavored to conduct and participate in a criminal enterprise" after Trump lost the election in Georgia.

The charges also include False Statements and Solicitation of State Legislatures, high-ranking state officials, the creation and distribution of false electoral college documents, the harassment of election workers, the solicitation of Justice Department officials, the solicitation of then-Vice President Mike Pence, the unlawful breach of election equipment, and acts of obstruction. (Trump also faces criminal charges related to efforts to create and send false electoral college documents in the indictments reported at "Federal grand jury indicts Donald Trump for Jan. 6 coup attempt, trial on hold while Supreme Court considers appeal" below.)

Trump is specifically charged with 13 counts, including soliciting the then-Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to break their oaths of office by overturning the election.

Count 28 of the 41-count indictment charges Trump and his former chief of staff Meadows in relation to the former president's infamous phone call imploring Raffensperger to "find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have" in Georgia.

Trump - also known at Inmate No. PO1135609 - turned himself in at the Fulton County jail, Fox News reported Aug. 24. He entered a plea of "not guilty" on Aug. 31.

Scott Hall, one of 18 co-defendants of former President Trump, pleaded guilty to the charges against him, CNBC reported Sept. 29. Hall, a bail bondsman, is the first defendant in the case to plead guilty in the case. He was accused of willfully tampering electronic voting machines in Coffee County, Georgia, and of working with pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell and others in that effort.

Kenneth Chesebro and Powell, both former lawyers in Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election, pled guilty to charges filed by Willis. Powell plead guilty Oct. 19 to six misdemeanors related to intentionally interfering with the performance of election duties. Chesebro plead guilty Oct. 20 to illegally conspiring to overturn Trump's 2020 election loss in Georgia.

Jenna Ellis, a former lawyer for Trump, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings for her role in the effort to overturn Joe Biden's win in Georgia in the 2020 presidential election, HuffPost reported Oct. 24. "If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post election challenges," a tearful Ellis told the judge.

The Washington Post obtained video of former Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro admitting he briefed then-President Trump on Arizona election challenges and a plan to send "alternate electors" to vote for Trump in the Electoral College following the 2020 election, even though Biden had won the state.

Chesebro also admitted to having participated in a plan to get Wisconsin's fake electors' signed documents to Vice President Pence while Congress was ratifying the election.

On Nov. 17, Fulton County prosecutors asked a Georgia judge to set former President Trump's criminal trial for Aug. 5, 2024, a timeline that could put Trump on trial through Election Day, The Hill reported. CNN reported that in the court filing, Willis' team also asked the judge to set a deadline of June 21, 2024 the remaining defendants to negotiate a plea deal. They could still plead guilty after that date, but it wouldn't be part of a deal with prosecutors, so they wouldn't get the benefits of a cooperation agreement.

However, "Fulton county prosecutors do not intend to offer plea deals to Donald Trump and at least two high-level co-defendants charged in connection with their efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, preferring instead to force them to trial," The Guardian reported Nov. 28.

"The individuals seen as ineligible include Trump, his former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and Trump's former lawyer Rudy Giuliani."

On Dec. 18, Trump urged a Georgia judge to dismiss his Fulton County election interference charges on First Amendment grounds, arguing that the indictment against him is "categorically invalid" because it seeks to criminalize "core political speech," ABC News reported.

"Because the claim the 2020 election was rigged and stolen is protected by First Amendment when it is made in a public speech, it is equally protected by the First Amendment when it is made to government officials in an act of petitioning or advocacy," the filing states. Speech is still protected, the attorneys argue, even if Trump's statements were false.

Also on Dec. 18, a federal appeals court in Georgia rejected a bid by former Trump Chief of Staff Meadows to remove his Fulton County election interference case into federal court, affirming a lower court's decision that left it in state court, ABC News reported. The appeals court found that "the events giving rise to this criminal action were not related to Meadows's official duties." (On Feb. 28, 2024 no active judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit was interested in sitting en banc to rehear Meadows' case for moving his Georgia RICO case to federal court.)

On Jan. 8, 2024 Trump's legal team filed multiple new motions in Georgia seeking to dismiss the Fulton County election interference case against him on grounds that include presidential immunity, which they argue "shields him from criminal prosecution."

"Historical practice over 234 years confirms that the power to indict a current or former President for official acts does not exist. The indictment in this case charges President Trump for acts that lie at the heart of his official responsibilities as President. The indictment is barred by presidential immunity and should be dismissed with prejudice."

Among those official responsibilities, the filing argues, were Trump's efforts to have then-Vice President Mike Pence reject the results of the election on Jan. 6, 2021, and his efforts to organize slates of so-called "alternate" electors.

"Our country has a longstanding tradition of forceful political advocacy regarding widespread allegations of fraud and irregularities in a long list of Presidential elections throughout our history, therefore, President Trump lacked fair notice that his advocacy in the instance of the 2020 Presidential Election could be criminalized. President Trump, like all citizens, is entitled to have fair warning as to where the line is drawn which separates permissible activity from that which is allegedly criminal."

And in related news, one of Donald Trump's co-defendants filed a new motion accusing Fulton County District Attorney Willis of including falsehoods in her filing that admitted to a "personal relationship" with prosecutor Nathan Wade, ABC News reported Feb. 9.

The new 122-page filing from co-defendant Michael Roman on Feb. 9 specifically claimed that he has a witness prepared to testify at an evidentiary hearing that Willis and Wade's relationship started before he was hired for the case -- which would refute a claim contained in Wade's affidavit in the filing that the relationship started after he was hired by Willis.

USA Today reported Feb. 15 that Willis is fighting for her professional reputation and the biggest case of her career as one of former President Trump's co-defendants tries to get her, the special prosecutor she's having an affair with and the entire DA's office thrown off Trump's sprawling Georgia election racketeering case.

The defense lawyers, led by Atlanta attorney Ashleigh Merchant, have claimed that Wade used some of the more than $650,000 he has received from leading the case for romantic trips with Willis, including a champagne and caviar tasting in Napa Valley, California, trips to Aruba and Barbados, and at least one Caribbean cruise. Willis and Wade, in their sworn and often contentious testimony, said they each used their own money for their numerous excursions.

Willis took the witness stand and forcefully pushed back against what she described as "lies" about her romantic relationship with a special prosecutor, the Associated Press reported Feb. 15.

Trump and his co-defendants have argued that the relationship presents a conflict of interest that should force Willis off the case. Wade and Willis have sought to downplay the matter, casting themselves as private people.

On March 13 Judge Scott McAfee dismissed three charges against the former president, MSNBC and The Hill reported. The rest of the charges against Trump and his co-defendants stand and the judge said the prosecutor could seek to re-indict Trump on the charges that were dropped.

The Hill reported each of the tossed charges related to alleged efforts by Trump and some of his co-defendants, including former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, to solicit Georgia officials to violate their oaths of office.

The judge ruled that while the charges do contain the "essential" elements of each crime, they fail to provide enough detail for the defendants to mount their defenses. Under the current charges, McAfee said, the defendants could have violated the law in "dozens, if not hundreds, of distinct ways."

Two of the dropped charges relate to the infamous call from Trump to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking him to "find" the votes necessary to beat Biden.

Judge McAfee granted permission for former President Trump and seven others to appeal his recent decision that kept District Attorney Willis at the helm of her election interference case, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported March 2.

Judge McAfee ruled that special prosecutor Nathan Wade should step down if Willis was to remain on the case in order to dispel the "cloud of impropriety" created by their romantic relationship, CNN reported March 15. Wade, later in the afternoon of the same day, resigned from the case, Fox News reported.

Earlier in the day, McAfee found "dismissal of the indictment is not the appropriate remedy to adequately dissipate the financial cloud of impropriety and potential untruthfulness found here. Nor is disqualification of a constitutional officer necessary when a less drastic and sufficiently remedial option is available," CNN reported.

Lawyers for Trump argued at a hearing that the charges he faces in Georgia target are core political speech and urged the judge to dismiss them under the First Amendment before the case heads to trial, The Hill reported March 28.

And then on April 8, Fulton County prosecutors urged the Georgia Court of Appeals to not consider disqualifying Fani Willis from the Donald Trump RICO case, Atlanta Daily World News reported. Willis' office told the Court of Appeals that "Because the applicants have wholly failed to carry their burden of persuasion, this Court should decline interlocutory review." Judge Scott McAfee initially ruled that Trump and his lawyers failed to prove that Willis benefited financially from a relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade, whom she hired and took  vacation trips with. However, he did allow Trump lawyers to appeal his initial ruling.

In related news, a Georgia judge denied a bid by former President Donald Trump and his co-defendants to dismiss the charges on First Amendment grounds, NBC News reported earlier on April 4.

In a 14-page ruling, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee said their right to protest the results of the 2020 presidential election did not protect them from the charges that District Attorney Willis's office brought.

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Federal grand jury indicts Donald Trump for Jan. 6 coup attempt, trial on hold while Supreme Court considers appeal

The presidential immunity question: The bottom line before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 25 was whether former President Trump - and other former and future presidents - can be held criminally liable for actions taken during his presidency if those actions are deemed to be outside the parameter of their official duties. 

Former President Trump said on Feb. 28: "Without Presidential Immunity, a President will not be able to properly function or make decisions. Presidents will always be concerned, and even paralyzed, by the prospect of wrongful prosecution and retaliation after they leave office."

In early 2024 Trump urged the Supreme Court to keep his federal election subversion criminal trial on hold as he appeals a ruling that he doesn't have immunity from the charges. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the Jan. 6 election interference case, scrapped the initial trial date of March 4 to let the appeals process play out in the Supreme Court. 

For more on this topic in this blog, see "Georgia county grand jury indicts Trump and 18 allies for effort to overturn state election, trial date not set," where a federal appeals court ruled Trump's last chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was not undertaking official duties when he actively worked to overturn the 2020 election

Trump has already lost on his claim that he is immune from Jan. 6 civil liability for his actions and inactions as president.  See "E. Jean Carroll sues, wins $5 million, sues for $10 million, awarded $83.3 million, Trump pays that much to appeal, plus trial notes" where Judge Kaplan of the Federal District Court in Manhattan turned down the government's bid to make the United States the defendant. President Trump's comments about Carroll during his presidency concerned events that had occurred "several decades before he took office," the judge ruled, and had "no relationship to the official business of the United States." 

Also see "NAACP, Democrat House members file lawsuit for Jan. 6 attack on Capitol," "Partner, estate of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick blame Trump, followers for his death," "Rep. Swalwell files lawsuit alleging Trump, others responsible for Jan. 6 riot" and "Trump faces five separate lawsuits by Capitol and D.C. police for Jan. 6 riot" where U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta - and appeals court judges - reject Trump's attempt to dismiss the lawsuits on grounds of presidential immunity. "The President's actions here do not relate to his duties of faithfully executing the laws, conducting foreign affairs, commanding the armed forces, or managing the Executive Branch," Judge Mehta wrote. "They entirely concern his efforts to remain in office for a second term. These are unofficial acts, so the separation-of-powers concerns that justify the President's broad immunity are not present here." 

And at "Manhattan grand jury indicts Trump on criminal charges, trial underway" where U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled Trump's alleged conduct in the New York case "does not reflect in any way the color of the President's official duties. Hush money paid to an adult film star is not related to a President's official acts."

Background: In March, 2022 the Justice Department expanded its criminal investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to include examining the preparations and planning for the rally that preceded the riot, the Washington Post reported.

A special federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. issued subpoena requests to some "VIP" officials in former President Trump's orbit who assisted in planning, funding and executing the Jan. 6 rally.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department will "not shy away" from Jan. 6 investigations that may be seen as inherently "controversial or sensitive or political."

"To do that would undermine an element of the rule of law that we treat like cases alike without regard to the subject matter."

CNN reported Sept. 13 that Justice Department criminal prosecutors are examining nearly every aspect of former President Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election -- including the fraudulent electors plot, efforts to push baseless election fraud claims and how money flowed to support these various efforts.

On Nov. 18, Fox News reported Attorney General Garland appointed former Justice Department official Jack Smith as special counsel to oversee the investigation into Trump's retention of classified documents after leaving the White House and whether the former president obstructed the federal government's investigation into the matter as well as whether Trump or other officials and entities interfered with the peaceful transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election, including the certification of the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, 2021.

For a second time, Trump's two top White House lawyers testified for several hours on Dec. 2 before the federal grand jury investigating the events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.  Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Pat Philbin were spotted at D.C. District Court.

Trump's daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have been subpoenaed by the special counsel, the New York Times reported Feb. 22, 2023.

The Hill reported Smith has also subpoenaed both former Vice President Mike Pence and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, two figures with strong visibility into Trump's actions leading up to and on the day of the deadly riot.

However, in March, Trump lawyers were in federal court trying to prevent the former vice president and former chief of staff from testifying. Trump's team contends that Smith's effort to seek details of Pence's conversations with Trump would violate executive privilege. The court quickly rejected Trump's argument and ordered both Pence and Meadows to testify.

According to The Hill, aide Stephen Miller, former Department of Homeland Security official Ken Cuccinelli, former Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe and former national security adviser Robert O'Brien were also all directed to testify.

Trump, on March 29, appealed in the D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to force his former White House aides to testify.

Trump's legal team lost that bid for emergency help from the federal appeals court in Washington, DC, CNN reported April 4.

And then former President Trump's legal team appealed a sealed order requiring limited testimony from former Vice President Pence after a judge determined he must answer questions from the Justice Department about some aspects of Trump's attempts to stay in power, The Hill reported April 10.

According to the Washington Post on April 12, "Federal prosecutors probing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol have in recent weeks sought a wide range of documents related to fundraising after the 2020 election, seeking to determine if President Trump or his advisers scammed donors by using false claims about voter fraud to raise money." 

NBC News reported that the federal appeals court denied Trump's motion to block the testimony of several of his senior aides. The decision came after U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled in March that Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and other aides must testify despite Trump's invocation of executive privilege.

Former Vice President Pence testified before a federal grand jury, according to a person familiar with the matter, the Associated Press reported April 27. 

And on Aug. 1 former President Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury regarding Special Counsel Smith's probe. According to Fox News, "Trump was indicted on four federal charges out of the probe, including conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights."

The indictment focuses on four areas—pressuring state election officials to change the results; organizing fake slates of electors; using the Department of Justice to pressure state officials to change their electoral votes; and attempting to get Vice President Pence to refuse to certify the results. (Trump also faces criminal charges related to the Electoral College scheme in the indictments issued at "Georgia county grand jury indicts Trump and allies for effort to overturn state election, four plead guilty.")

There are also six non-indicted co-conspirators who have not yet been identified — four attorneys, a Justice Department official and a political consultant. Media sources have, however, identified Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Jeffrey Clark and Kenneth Chesebro as five of Trump's co-conspirators. (See "68 Days That Will Live in Infamy" immediately above for details on the efforts and actions of all five to overturn the election.)

The judge overseeing former President Trump's election interference case in federal court set a trial date for March 4, 2024. Lawyers for the former president had requested an April 2026 start date.

And then Trump made his first formal push to have the judge disqualifiedABC News reported Sept. 11 the recusal motion filed by Trump's attorneys cited comments Judge Chutkan made in cases she oversaw for individuals charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol which they argued show she "suggested that President Trump should be prosecuted and imprisoned."

Trump on Oct. 5 asked Judge Chutkan to dismiss the whole of the government's election interference case against him, arguing all his actions leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol are protected by presidential immunity, The Hill and CNN reported.  

Lawyers for Trump raised new challenges to the federal election subversion case against him, telling Judge Chutkan that the indictment should be dismissed because it violates the former president's free speech rights and represents a vindictive prosecution, the Associated Press reported. The motions filed Oct. 23 are on top of a pending argument by defense attorneys that he is immune from federal prosecution for actions taken within his official role as president.

U.S. prosecutors urged Judge Chutkan to reject former president Trump's claim of absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions he took in office, saying that he is "not above the law" and that his indictment for allegedly conspiring to block the results of the 2020 election should not be dismissed, the Washington Post reported Oct. 19.

"No court has ever alluded to the existence of absolute criminal immunity for former presidents," assistant special counsel James I. Pearce wrote in the filing. 

Former President Trump's final chief of staff in the White House, Mark Meadows, has spoken with special counsel Jack Smith's team at least three times this year, including once before a federal grand jury, which came only after Smith granted Meadows immunity to testify under oath, according to sources familiar with the matter, ABC News reported Oct. 24.

A federal judge then reinstated the gag order on Trump, agreeing with Special Counsel Smith that the former president should remain muzzled when talking about certain people involved in his upcoming criminal trial even as he tries to appeal the speech restrictions," The Messenger reported Oct. 29.  "U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan's one-sentence order means that the original Trump's gag order she'd imposed on the GOP's 2024 front-runner is back in place." Under the gag order, which was issued after prosecutors raised concerns Trump could intimidate witnesses or encourage harm against prosecutors through his public comments, Trump may not target court personnel, potential witnesses, or the special counsel and his staff in public statements.

Then a federal appeals court on Nov. 3 temporarily froze the limited gag order issued against Trump, allowing him to again speak freely with criticism of possible witnesses in the case, CNN reported. In a brief order, a three-judge panel at the U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said they were pausing the gag order issued by Judge Chutkan to give them more time to consider Trump's request to pause the order while his appeal plays out before the court.

The appellate judges – Patricia Millett and Cornelia Pillard, both Barack Obama appointees, and Brad Garcia, a Joe Biden appointee – said they would fast-track Trump's appeal of the gag order and hear arguments in the matter on Nov. 20. 

On Dec. 2, Judge Chutkan rejected Trump's motion to dismiss the case, ruling that presidents do not have absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for acts that fall within their official responsibilities. "The Constitution's text, structure, and history do not support that contention. No court — or any other branch of government — has ever accepted it. And this court will not so hold. Whatever immunities a sitting President may enjoy, the United States has only one Chief Executive at a time, and that position does not confer a lifelong 'get-out-of-jail-free' pass."

Trump immediately filed notice saying he will appeal the judge's ruling that he was not immune from being charged with federal crimes for his efforts to undo the outcome of the 2020 election, either by his former role as president or the Constitution's rules for impeachment, the Washington Post reported Dec. 7.

"How and when the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court handle his appeal could have a huge impact on whether Trump — who is again running for president — goes on trial before voters go to the polls in 2024, or ever."

ABC News reported Dec. 8 that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld U.S. District Judge Chutkan's gag order, which prohibits Trump from making public statements about potential witnesses in the case as well as attorneys and court personnel.

On Dec. 11, Special Counsel Jack Smith asked the U.S. Supreme Court to address the question of whether former President Trump is immune from prosecution. (Trump's attorneys responded on Dec. 20, asking the court to slow down its consideration of the matter.) 

Prosecutors asked the Supreme Court for a definitive answer to determine "whether a former President is absolutely immune from federal prosecution for crimes committed while in office or is constitutionally protected from federal prosecution when he has been impeached but not convicted before the criminal proceedings begin."

Trump claims the charges against him should be thrown out because the fact he tried to overturn the 2020 election while in the White House means he has "presidential immunity," but Judge Chutkan rejected that argument, ruling Trump's presidency doesn't give him the "divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens." 

CNN reported Dec. 30 that Smith pushed back on former President Trump's claim that he should be cloaked with absolute immunity from criminal prosecution, arguing in a new filing that the sweeping assertion "threatens to license Presidents to commit crimes to remain in office."

"The implications of the defendant's broad immunity theory are sobering. In his view, a court should treat a President's criminal conduct as immune from prosecution as long as it takes the form of correspondence with a state official about a matter in which there is a federal interest, a meeting with a member of the Executive Branch, or a statement on a matter of public concern."

"That approach would grant immunity from criminal prosecution to a President who accepts a bribe in exchange for directing a lucrative government contract to the payer; a President who instructs the FBI Director to plant incriminating evidence on a political enemy; a President who orders the National Guard to murder his most prominent critics; or a President who sells nuclear secrets to a foreign adversary, because in each of these scenarios, the President could assert that he was simply executing the laws; or communicating with the Department of Justice; or discharging his powers as Commander-in-Chief; or engaging in foreign diplomacy."

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard Trump's challenge to Judge Chutkan's rejection of his arguments on Jan. 9, 2024.  (The Supreme Court ruled without comment on Dec. 22 it would not hear arguments on Trump's presidential immunity defense after special counsel Jack Smith asked the justices to weigh that claim on an expedited schedule, the Washington Examiner reported.)

Judge Florence Pan of the Circuit Court of Appeals posed some striking hypothetical questions to Trump attorney John Sauer to flesh out the bounds of his presidential immunity argument. His legal theory claims former presidents are shielded from prosecution for official actions if there isn't an impeachment and conviction by Congress first.

"Could a president order SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? That is an official act, an order to SEAL Team Six," Pan asked.

"He would have to be, and would speedily be impeached and convicted before the criminal prosecution," Sauer said.

"I asked you a yes or no question," Pan said.

"If he were impeached and convicted first," Sauer replied, later insisting that the "political process" of impeachment "would have to occur" before any prosecution could be initiated.

The New York Times reported Jan. 6 that the D.C. District Circuit Court had rejected former President Trump's claim that he is immune to charges of plotting to subvert the results of the 2020 election. The court also ruled he must go to trial on a criminal indictment accusing him of seeking to overturn his loss to President Biden.

"For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant," the panel wrote. "But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution."

On Feb. 12 Trump urged the Supreme Court to keep his federal election subversion criminal trial on hold as he appeals a ruling that he doesn't have immunity from the charges. "Without immunity from criminal prosecution, the Presidency as we know it will cease to exist," Trump's lawyers wrote, repeating arguments that have so far failed in federal courts.

On Feb. 28 the Supreme Court decided it would hear Trump's claim of presidential immunity on April 25 and stayed an appeal court ruling on the matter.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over the case, scrapped the initial trial date of March 4 to let the appeals process play out. 

The Brennan Center for Justice reported April 10 that 15 historians filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court rejecting the former president's claim of immunity from criminal prosecution. They found that accountability under the law has been a defining principle of the American presidency since its origins.

"When designing the presidency, the founders wanted no part of the immunity from criminal prosecution claimed by English kings," said Brewer, Burke Chair of American Cultural and Intellectual History and Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland. "That immunity was at the heart of what they saw as a flawed system. On both the state and national level, they wrote constitutions that held all leaders, including presidents, accountable to the laws of the country. St. George Tucker, one of the most prominent judges in the new nation, laid out the principle clearly: everyone is equally bound by the law, from 'beggars in the streets' to presidents."

On April 25, the court heard his plea, along with Special Counsel Jack Smith's demand that Trump's trial for his 2020 election interference action and inaction begin ASAP. The court seemed unlikely to accept all of Trump's arguments, which seek "absolute immunity" for alleged crimes committed while in office. But most justices agreed that former presidents deserve strong protection from prosecution, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"If a president can be charged, put on trial, and imprisoned for his most controversial decisions as soon as he leaves office, that looming threat will distort the president's decision-making precisely when bold and fearless action is most needed," Trump's lawyer, D. John Sauer, told the court.

Liberal justices, however, suggested the greater threat to democracy was a decision that effectively placed the president above the law, not one holding him to the same rules that apply to other high officials as well as ordinary Americans.  Telling "the most powerful person in the world" that there was no possibility of punishment for breaking the law, could turn "the Oval Office into the seat of criminal activity in this country," said Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

*

Manhattan grand jury indicts Trump on criminal charges, trial underway, plus daily trial notes

The Latest:  In his closing argument May 28, defense attorney Todd Blanche told the jury:

  • "President Trump is innocent."
  • "You cannot convict President Trump."
  • Trump has denied an affair with Stormy Daniels.
  • There was no evidence or intent to defraud, mislead, hide or falsify business records by the former president.
  • There is "no evidence" Trump knew anything about the Trump Organization voucher system and thus did not know anything about any alleged falsification.
  • The lack of testimony from Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump is reason to acquit Trump since they ran the business.
  • Michael Cohen is the "greatest liar of all time." He never told Trump about paying hush money to keep Stormy Daniels quiet.
  • Trump is innocent of any allegations regarding the payment to alleged girlfriend Karen McDougal.
  • There is nothing illegal or unusual about the National Enquirer killing a story about a national figure.
  • During the recorded telephone conversation about the National Enquirer, it is not clear Trump and Cohen were talking about a pay-off and "clearly" Trump had no idea what Cohen was talking about.
  • "It doesn't matter if there was a conspiracy to win the election. Every campaign is a conspiracy to promote a candidate."
  • Played a portion of Cohen's podcast in which The Fixer angrily and with great malice says he hopes Trump ends up in jail.
  • "You cannot send someone to prison based on the words of Michael Cohen." (Judge Merchan then chastised Blanche for imploring jurors not to send Trump to prison, telling the jury that the lawyer's comment was "improper, and you must disregard it. If there is a verdict of guilty it will be up to me to impose a sentence.")

  • Prosecutor brought Stormy to testify "to try to embarrass President Trump."

Blache didn't say anything about two Trump Organization memos, both including handwritten notes by its chief financial officer, regarding paying Stormy Daniels $130,000 and another paying Cohen $420,000.  Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass, during the prosecution's summation, made the following points:

  • There is a mountain of evidence in the case, saying "it's difficult to conceive of a case with more corroboration than this one."

  • Trump's main concern prior to the 2016 election was not Stormy Daniels or Karen McDougal or his family but the upcoming presidential election.
  • Trump and Cohen spoke twice on the morning of Oct. 26, 2016, right before Cohen went to First Republic to submit paperwork to open his new account and to send the wire transfer to Keith Davidson on Daniels' behalf.

  • The jury saw two handwritten notes by Trump Organization officials describing how Cohen was to be paid for work and costs related to the hush-money payoffs.

  • Cohen's testimony lines up with text messages, emails and phone call records shown at trial.

  • The telephone recording showed Trump suggested paying in cash — whether it means no financing, lump sum, it doesn't matter. They were trying to take steps that would not get noticed and would not influence the campaign.

  • Arguing Trump in his books has emphasized readers pay attention to detail in their businesses, "If Trump didn't know about the scheme, why was he just signing the checks for "services rendered' for $35,000 each month?"

  • "Blanche said, well, (Cohen) stole $60,000 because (his $400,000-plus reimbursement) was grossed up. But that means the defense is trying to have it both ways. They can call him a thief or claim it wasn't a reimbursement but you can't have it both ways."

  • "You don't need Michael Cohen." He added that Hope Hicks, Rhona Graff, Madeleine Westerhout, Jeffrey McConney and Deborah Tarasoff were all witnesses who like Trump but confirmed Cohen's testimony.

  • Goes into details the "catch-and-kill" scheme to silence Karen McDougal's allegations.

Jury deliberations have begun following more than an hour of instructions from the judge.

Here are some of the predictions and comments prior to closing arguments:

"The whole Case should be ENDED IMMEDIATELY, and all the charges THROWN OUT, because everything was done right, with Legal Expenses being reported as Legal Expenses!" – Donald Trump on Truth Social

"As we approach closing arguments on Tuesday, here's what we can say: It appears that the odds of Trump being convicted are fairly good - but not overwhelming. Perhaps slightly more likely than not. The likelihood of an acquittal, which would require all 12 jurors to unanimously conclude that Trump is not guilty, appears slim at best. Yet there is a very real chance that one or more jurors will refuse to convict - most likely because they are unwilling to fully credit the testimony of Michael Cohen - and that the jury will hang, resulting in a mistrial and a de facto victory for Trump." -Ankush Khardori at Politico

"I would hazard a guess that at least one juror will refuse to convict Trump, the jury will hang, and there will be a mistrial. It is not a crime to purchase someone's intellectual property rights or to have someone sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Trump also can't be said to have known what Cohen was doing with falsification of records when Cohen was stealing from Trump." Attorney Colleen Kerwick

"I think the odds of a conviction are somewhere upwards of 80 percent. The defense, in part because of this scattershot approach, the defense is not really gunning for an acquittal. That's out of reach here. What they are hoping for is one angry juror, that there is one juror who either feels such sympathy for Trump or, just for whatever reason, does not follow the evidence and the law, the holdout. Yeah, that's what they're trying for. Just one." – CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen

"Judge Juan Merchan has allowed the government to bring back into life a dead misdemeanor and convert it into 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. To accomplish this legal regeneration, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has vaguely referenced a variety of crimes that Trump allegedly was trying to conceal through the business record violations. The problem is that he has left the secondary crime mired in uncertainty to the point that experts on various networks are still debating what the underlying theory is in the case. A jury of Lawrence O'Donnell's peers would convict Trump even if the Angel Gabriel appeared at trial as a defense character witness."Jonathan Turley on Fox News 

"I don't think they're going to get 12 votes unanimously to acquit him. I think their best shot, and that's what they're gonna do, is hope that there's just some person on the jury who just refuses to convict. And I think that's going to be really, really hard, with Trump having signed eight of those checks." – George Conway

"(The prosecution's) missing elements in the prosecution's case that they would have to establish in order to convict them. If the judge skirts over the difficult legal issues of the case and oversimplifies what they have to find, then I think the jury will probably find him guilty. My fear is that the judge will gloss over the legal issues and just say to the jury: do you believe that Trump falsified business records in order to hide information from the public during an election? And he's likely guilty of that, but I don't think that constitutes a crime." - Gregory Germain, an attorney and law professor at Syracuse University

"For a felony conviction, the jury must…be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt…that Trump intended to commit violations of election law or tax law. If the jury is going to hang, it will almost certainly be over whether there's reasonable doubt over the existence of that intent." – Lawyer Dennis Aftergut

"Does anyone believe Trump would have begun writing Cohen a series of $35,000 checks from his personal bank account if Cohen had not told Trump the payment was made? Please!" - Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor and MSNBC contributor

"The defense can easily argue that Trump was running the presidency in DC and no longer micromanaging what was going on in New York at the Trump Organization. If he signed checks put in front of him, they could have easily been part of a busy work pile to be FedExed back to the company with Trump barely paying attention. If so, there would have been no intent to falsify the business records. Without (Trump Organization former CFO and convicted felon) Weisselberg's testimony about what Trump knew or intended, the prosecution only has Cohen to rely upon. That might not be enough for a conviction." – Criminal defense attorney Stacy Schneider

"Ignore the drama of Stormy Daniels on the witness stand, recalling her alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump in 2006. Focus on the law. To get a guilty verdict on the 34 bookkeeping felonies, Mr. Bragg must prove both that Mr. Trump falsified business records, and also that he did it with intent to commit or conceal a second crime. Yet there was essentially no direct evidence that Mr. Trump conceived of this all as a scheme to break the law."- Editor Board, The Wall Street Journal

"We're talking about a guy, Donald Trump, who watched every penny. Do you really think that he would have been cool with all this money going out of his account without knowing it? Do you really think he would just reimburse $430,000 or whatever that number is, without some knowledge about what was going on? Of course not. So it's a common sense case, and I suspect that it's going to be successful." – MSNBC legal analyst Neal Katyal

"A Manhattan jury pool was always likely to tilt against Trump, which was surely a factor in Bragg's decision to bring the case. Because a majority of the jurors said they read The New York Times, which is in its eighth year of its jihad against him, a conviction wouldn't be surprising. For Trump, the partisan math means a hung jury is his best hope. Reports that Biden intends to speak from the White House about the verdict brings into sharp focus the president's fantasy that a guilty verdict would reverse his fading re-election chances. Perhaps, but it's not clear how much a conviction would hurt Trump politically. Although polls say some voters would be less likely to back him if he's guilty of a felony, the specifics will matter." - Michael Goodwin at the New York Post

"Defense verdicts tend to be in quickly, because people have their views, and one or more jurors are not going to budge. ... They don't go through the labor of weighing all the evidence. But if they're out three or four days, that tends to suggest they're really looking at the evidence. And of course, the evidence favors the prosecution." – Kevin J. O'Brien, a New York trial lawyer

"There was no case… We've been sitting here. We saw no facts, and the last resort for the prosecution is going to be this judge with political motivations, going to give them instructions on how to decide the fate of a former president and the future president of the United States." – Trump legal advisor Alina Habba on Fox

"I think the main category that is most critical is around the question of what kind of intent the prosecutors need to prove, on Trump's part. Having sat through a good chunk of that trial, I think, at the end of the day — despite a lot of questions about Michael Cohen's credibility, and other things that aren't clear in the trial — that the basic facts of what happened are going to be pretty well established in terms of who has paid what amounts and when. It seems pretty clear that Trump signed most of these $35,000 reimbursement checks to Cohen." – Josh Gerstein of CNN

"The City of New York's D.A., Alvin Bragg, is trying to prosecute a Federal case, which cannot be done, and where there is NO CRIME, that has been turned down by everyone, including the Federal Elections Commission, SDNY, the D.A.'s Office, and Bragg himself – Until I announced that I was running for President. This case could have been brought 7 years ago, but wasn't. It is another Crooked Joe Biden Election Interference Hoax!" – Donald Trump on Truth Social

"In my experience, hung juries are a rarity, particularly where, as here, the proof is strong and the law is straightforward. I don't think there will be a hung jury here. The evidence against Trump is so overwhelming that my bet is on a unanimous verdict of conviction." – Legal analyst James D. Zirin

"It's been clear from the beginning that it was extremely unlikely for Donald Trump be acquitted in his criminal trial in New York City. The entire process was designed to achieve a conviction, not a fair trial. The prosecutor is a Soros-funded leftist who campaigned on getting Trump. The judge is a Biden donor. And finally, the jurisdiction is so heavily liberal that it would be nearly impossible to get an unbiased jury." – Matt Margolis at PJ Media

"I think we're looking at a matter of days, not hours." - MSNBC legal analyst and law professor Joyce Vance

"Anybody who claims they know what a jury is going to do or how long it's going to take is either lying to you, lying to themselves or much smarter than anybody I've ever met." – Attorney Mitchell Epner 

Background:  On Nov. 4, 2021 the Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. convened a long-term grand jury to hear evidence about the Trump Organization's financial practices and potentially to vote on criminal charges, the Washington Post reported.

According to the Post, Trump's company sometimes valued its properties up to 30 times more than their value depending on who the numbers were provided to. For example, in 2013, the Trump Organization told county tax officials that its California golf club in Rancho Palos Verdes was worth $900,000. But in 2014, as the company was seeking a massive tax deduction through a conservation easement, it said the same property was worth at least $25 million.

According to the New York Times, in the early weeks of the tenure of Vance's replacement, Alvin Bragg, the new D.A. developed concerns about the strength of that case and decided to abandon the grand jury presentation.

In February, 2022 the two prosecutors heading the case, Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne, resigned - which a source at the time said was an indication of frustration over the direction of the case.

Pomerantz said in his resignation letter that Trump was "guilty of numerous felony violations" and that it was "a grave failure of justice" not to hold him accountable, the New York Times reported March 23. Pomerantz asserted that he had a meritorious case against Trump on felony tax offenses that Bragg refused to charge. "His financial statements were false, and he has a long history of fabricating information relating to his personal finances and lying about his assets to banks, the national media, counterparties, and many others, including the American people," Pomerantz wrote in his resignation letter.

In his book published after resigning, Pomerantz described Trump "as a malignant narcissist, and perhaps even a megalomaniac who posed a real danger to the country."

And then on Nov. 21, the New York Times reported, "The Manhattan district attorney's office has moved to jump-start its criminal investigation into Donald Trump, seeking to breathe new life into an inquiry that once seemed to have reached a dead end."

"The district attorney's office first examined the payment to the actress, Stormy Daniels, years ago before changing direction to scrutinize Mr. Trump's broader business practices. But Mr. Bragg and some of his deputies have recently indicated to associates, supporters and at least one lawyer involved in the matter that they are newly optimistic about building a case against Mr. Trump, the people said."

(ABC News reported that Trump, after announcing his candidacy for president in 2015, recruited his attorney, Michael Cohen, and tabloid executive David Pecker to work together to "suppress negative stories" by having Pecker, on behalf of the National Enquirer, procure exclusive rights to stories that might cast a negative light on Trump and then not publish them. Trump and Cohen would then reimburse Pecker's company, AMI. The group eventually paid-off two women and one man: Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal and a doorman at Trump Tower who told a tall tale about Trump having an out-of-wedlock son.)

The New York Times reported Cohen, the former president's former "fixer," is talking again to the Manhattan D.A. "The questioning of the lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, offered the clearest sign yet that the district attorney's office was ramping up its investigation into Mr. Trump's role in the $130,000 hush money deal. Mr. Cohen has said publicly that Mr. Trump directed him, in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign, to buy the silence of Stephanie Clifford, the actress known as Stormy Daniels." (The payment to Daniels came three days after release of the infamous "Hollywood Access" tape in which Trump is heard bragging about the fact that, being a "star," he could sexually assault women with impunity. The payment to Daniels was allegedly seen as a necessity to protect Trump's chances of winning the 2016 election.)

Cohen went to prison in 2018 for, among other things, campaign finance violations. Cohen's campaign finance problems came from the check he got from Donald Trump to pay off Stormy Daniels. Trump (identified as "Individual-1" by the Justice Department in Cohen-related court filings) emerged legally unscathed and has denied that he directed Cohen to pay off Daniels, saying the payments did not come from his campaign and that he did not have an affair with Daniels while married to the former first lady, Melania.

NPR reported that Cohen told authorities he paid Daniels the money and arranged to be reimbursed $420,000 by Trump's company to cover his taxes. The company recorded the payments to Cohen as legal fees, which could constitute a crime in New York.

On Jan. 30, 2023 the Manhattan district attorney's office began presenting evidence to a grand jury about Trump's role in paying hush money to porn star Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign, laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

One of the witnesses, David Pecker, was seen with his lawyer entering the building in Lower Manhattan where the grand jury is sitting. Pecker is the former publisher of The National Enquirer, the tabloid that helped broker the deal with Daniels.

Daniels claims to have slept with Trump in 2006. In her memoir, Daniels described in graphic detail Trump's anatomy and the circumstances of their tryst. On Jan. 30, he again denied ever having an affair with Daniels.

One of Trump's attorney, Joe Tacopina, appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" March 13. When asked if Trump directed Cohen to pay Daniels, Tacopina replied, "Let's assume he did."

And then on March 30 Trump became the first former American president to be indicted on felony criminal charges after the Manhattan district attorney's office filed charges against him in connection with a $130,000 hush money payment weeks before the 2016 presidential campaign made to the porn star, ABC News and the New York Times reported.

Prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney's office say that Trump illegally falsified business records when his reimbursement of the funds to Cohen was logged in the Trump Organization's books as a "monthly retainer" for Cohen's legal services, ABC News reported.

Trump was arraigned, and the charges unsealed on April 4 in Manhattan Criminal Court. Trump pled "not guilty" to 34 felony charges. Bragg said that Trump was accused of "falsifying New York business records in order to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election."

Trump asked a New York judge to dismiss the criminal charges, ABC News reported Oct. 5.  "President Trump cannot be said to have falsified business records of the Trump Organization by paying his personal attorney using his personal bank accounts," defense attorney Todd Blanche said in the motion, which called the case a "discombobulated package of politically motivated charges."

According to The Hill, Trump on March 11, 2024 sought to derail the start of the trial just two weeks before it was set to begin, suggesting the case should go on pause until the immunity issues he has raised in his other criminal cases are weighed by the Supreme Court on April 25. "President Trump respectfully submits that an adjournment of the trial is appropriate to await further guidance from the Supreme Court, which should facilitate the appropriate application of the presidential immunity doctrine in this case to the evidence the People intend to offer at trial," Trump's attorneys wrote in their 26-page motion. Prosecutors argued that was a weak basis for seeking to stall their case and limit evidence.

On March 14, the Manhattan DA asked court for a 30-day delay on trial start date in order for attorneys to review 73,000 pages of new documents that were recently turned over to city officials by the federal government. Trump attorneys are seeking a dismissal of the case based on evidence violations. The judge is seeking a timeline of when the documents were requested and when they were turned over.

Molly Crane-Newman of the New York Daily News reported March 15 that Donald Trump's trial was pushed back by the presiding judge who said "significant questions of fact" must be resolved before the former president's historic Manhattan case moves forward. A hearing was set for March 25, the date the trial was originally set to begin.

The former president fumed over his legal troubles after his trial was scheduled for an April 15 start date, The Hill reported March 25.

Trump, who had sought a 90-day delay in the trial date and to have the entire case dismissed, indicated he would appeal the new trial start date. He has repeatedly indicated he has done nothing wrong in any of the cases he faces.

On March 26 Fox News reported Judge Merchan imposed a gag order on former President Trump, pointing to his "prior extrajudicial statements," saying they establish "a sufficient risk to the administration of justice." Merchan ordered that Trump cannot make or direct others to make public statements about witnesses concerning their potential participation, or about counsel in the case — other than Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg — or about court staff, DA staff or family members of staff.

But according to The Hill, the order limits Trump's public statements about "the family members of any counsel or staff member" involved in the case. It explicitly enables Trump to continue attacking Bragg himself and also does not appear to restrict Trump's statements about the judge.

Trump's latest mark is the daughter of Judge Juan Merchan, the New York state judge overseeing the former president's criminal trial linked to hush money payments made to a porn actress. Merchan's daughter, Loren, had been hacked. Trump attacked her on March 26 and 28.

Trump also reposted a claim that Engoron's son was reserved a seat in the fraud trial courtroom, speculating he may have been "financially benefiting" from the proceeding. However, the man depicted was a New York Post reporter – not Engoron's son.

Former President Trump demanded his hush money judge recuse himself from the upcoming trial, now less than two weeks away, over his daughter's firm's digital marketing work for prominent Democrats, The Hill reported April 5. The judge has also grown perturbed by Trump's last-minute tactics to stave off the April 15 start date, which is slated to be the former president's first criminal trial.

A judge has rejected Trump's bid to delay his April 15 trial until the Supreme Court rules on presidential immunity claims he raised in another of his criminal cases — spurning another of the former president's ploys to put off the historic trial, Michael Sisak at the Associated Press reported April 4.

A New York appeals court judge denied a third effort in three days by Donald Trump's attorneys to put on hold the former president's impending criminal trial, NBC News reported April 10.

Associate Justice Ellen Gesmer for the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York denied Trump's third legal challenge to delay the trial after a pair of state appeals court judges rejected similar efforts by Trump April 8 and 9 to pause the hush money trial.

Fox News reported April 23 that New York prosecutors revealed the other crime they claim former President Trump was trying to conceal when he allegedly falsified his business records. In order for prosecutors to secure a criminal conviction, they must convince the jury that Trump allegedly committed the crime of falsifying business records in "furtherance of another crime." The other crime was a violation of a New York law called "conspiracy to promote or prevent election." Prosecutors will try to prove that the alleged conspiracy was to conceal a conspiracy to unlawfully promote his candidacy. 

Lawyers for Trump asked a New York appeals court to rule on their challenge to the gag order limiting what the former president can say about witnesses in the criminal hush money trial, according to people familiar with the matter, CNN reported May 8.

Trump's legal team filed an order to show cause, which has been sealed. The Manhattan district attorney's office has opposed the filing, according to the docket.

Judge Merchan found Trump has violated the gag order 10 times and fined him $10,000 for public statements Trump made about certain witnesses and the jury. Earlier this week, the judge warned Trump if he violates it again, he may be forced to sanction him with incarceration. Merchan said the fines did not appear to be serving as a deterrent and the violations threatened the rule of law.

On May 15, a New York state appeals court upheld the gag order on Trump, rejecting the argument it violated Trump's First Amendment rights, the New York Times reported.

Daily trial notes

The trial began April 15 and a jury was seated April 18 and alternates April 19. Opening statements from the two sides took place and the first witness for the prosecution took the stand on April 22

According to Fox News, prosecutors allege that the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen and fraudulently logged the payments as legal expenses. Prosecutors are working to prove that Trump falsified records with the intent to commit or conceal a second crime, which is a felony, in violation of a New York law called "conspiracy to promote or prevent election." Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. 

"These charges, standing alone, are misdemeanors, usually tacked on by the Manhattan district attorney to more serious charges. They relate to a $130,000 'hush money' payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels who claimed to have had an affair with Trump in the runup to the 2016 election, but were instead accounted for as legal expenses," wrote The Bulwark legal analyst Kim Wehle. "The payment was originally made to Daniels by Trump's former lawyer and overall fixer, Michael Cohen. Trump reimbursed Cohen over a series of payments invoiced as legal fees, with extra money tacked on to cover the income taxes Cohen would have to pay under the ruse that it was income, not reimbursement for a payment to Daniels.

"What bumps the misdemeanors up to felonies is the government's claim that the false entries were made 'with intent to defraud and intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission thereof.' That second crime, according to the government, involved the violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act's limits on corporate and individual contributions to a campaign and New York law's ban on conspiracies to influence elections by "unlawful means." Central to the government's theory of the case is the timeline of the 2016 campaign. 

Prosecutors framed the case as "election fraud, pure and simple" and implored jurors to exercise common sense as they digest the evidence. Defense attorneys sought to distance Trump from any alleged wrongdoing and laid the groundwork to undermine key government witnesses, including Cohen and Daniels.

Todd Blanche, the lead attorney for Donald Trump, argued that the alleged conduct described by prosecutors was nothing more than politics as usual. "I have a spoiler alert," Blanche told jurors during his opening statement. "There is nothing wrong with trying to influence an election. It's called democracy."

Blanche suggested that Trump entered into the non-disclosure agreement with Daniels not to prevent her claim of a decade-old sexual encounter with Trump from reaching voters, but to prevent her claim from reaching, say, Trump's wife Melania.

According to reports, Blanche also told the court the $420,000 reimbursement to Trump attorney Michael Cohen was not for paying off Stormy Daniels, although during trial evidence was surface showing Trump admitting the money was used as a reimbursement to his then-attorney Cohen.

Before court adjourned, prosecutors called their first witness: David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, who prosecutors allege engaged in a conspiracy with Trump and Cohen to help influence the election by killing negative stories about Trump. 

Pecker, who called Trump a "close friend," described the editorial process at the National Enquirer as "checkbook journalism." "I had the final say of the celebrity side of the magazine," Pecker said. "We used checkbook journalism. We paid for stories." 

Pecker, told the court on April 23 he helped Trump, his "close friend," get elected in 2016 by buying and burying negative stories about Trump, praising him in the tabloid and attacking Trump's GOP and Democrat opponents. 

"An outcome of that Trump Tower meeting (with Cohen and Trump) were negative headlines attacking Mr. Trump's rivals and positive stories that promoted him," the New York Times reported after Pecker's initial testimony. "Prosecutors said that negative coverage included stories about Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio while they were seeking the Republican Party's nomination. During the campaign, Mr. Pecker said he worked closely with Mr. Cohen, who would feed him information."

A hearing on the judge's gag order on the former president was held April 23.  No decision was reported.

ABC News reported on April 25 after he learned Playboy model Karen McDougal was trying to sell a story about an alleged year-long relationship she had with Trump, Michael Cohen instructed Pecker to purchase her story and suggested that Trump would compensate the company for the cost.ib /a

Pecker said that he purchased the exclusive rights to McDougal's story for $150,000 so it wouldn't "embarrass Mr. Trump or embarrass or hurt the campaign."

"Were you aware that expenditures by corporations made for the purpose of influencing an election made in coordination with or at the request of a candidate or campaign were unlawful?" prosecutor Josh Steinglass asked Pecker.

Pecker said he was aware and confirmed that the Enquirer's parent company, AMI, never reported the payment to the Federal Election Commission.

David Pecker continued his cross-examination by lawyers for former President Trump, The Hill reported April 26.

ABC News reported that Pecker reiterated that he did not plan to publish the Karen McDougal story about a possible long-term affair between the Playboy model and Trump -- despite its value to the National Enquirer if it were true -- in order to help the Trump campaign.

Pecker also revealed shady deals he had previously with other politicians and celebrities — from the likes of Tiger Woods to Mark Wahlberg to Arnold Schwarzenegger when he ran for governor of California and Rahm Emanuel while running for mayor of Chicago.

Trump's long-time assistant, Rhona Graff, testified that she saw Stormy Daniels at Trump Tower before Trump ran for president and recalled having heard Trump say Daniels would be a "good contestant" for The Apprentice.

On April 30, an appellate court denied Trump's bid to have Judge Merchan recused from his hush money trial.

The judge overseeing former President Trump's criminal trial held him in contempt of court on April 30 for violating a gag order that limits what he can say about those involved in the case, and warned him that he could be jailed if he violates the order again, CBS News reported.

Judge Juan Merchan said Trump violated the order nine times in recent weeks in posts on Trump's Truth Social platform and campaign website, many of which targeted Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels, key witnesses in the case. Merchan fined Trump $9,000, or $1,000 for each violation, and ordered him to delete the posts.

Merchan wrote that New York law doesn't allow him to impose a fine higher than $1,000 per violation, which "unfortunately will not achieve the desired result in those instances where the [defendant] can easily afford such a fine." He said a higher fine might be appropriate in those cases, but since he does not have that discretion, the court "must therefore consider whether in some instances, jail may be a necessary punishment."

Also on April 30, attorney Davidson testified McDougal sold her story of an alleged affair with Trump to American Media Inc. instead of ABC News to ensure it was not published. In the recording, which was obtained by CNN in 2018, Trump suggested paying cash to David Pecker's media company, American Media Inc., which covered the $150,000 payment to McDougal for limited life rights to her story. However, Cohen insisted she be paid off with a check.

Davidson also testified that the release of a raunchy hot-mic moment Trump had during an "Access Hollywood" interview before entering the presidential race had an impact on efforts to allegedly quiet the women claiming they had affairs with Trump.

"Before (the) Access Hollywood tape, there was very little if any interest," in porn actress Stormy Daniels' story, Davidson said. "It wasn't until Access Hollywood that interest sort of reached a crescendo."

Before the resumption of the trial began on May 2, a brief hearing on additional potential violations of a gag order by Trump was held in Judge Merchan's chambers. The judge has yet to rule on that matter.

USA Today reported on May 2, the 10th day of the trial, that the jury learned that Keith Davidson, who was the attorney representing both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal when they were paid-off by the National Enquirer, had texted the paper's editor, Dylan Howard, on the night of the 2016 election "What have we done," believing their actions had aided Trump's campaign. 

The prosecution also played a recording of Trump talking to Cohen about the payoff. The New York Times reported, "To recap, the jury just heard a very important recording, made by Michael Cohen during the 2016 campaign and extracted from his phone. On the recording, Trump discussed a hush-money payment with Cohen, asking him specifically about the financing of the deal. The payment in question went to Karen McDougal, not Stormy Daniels. Still, the jurors now heard clearly how Cohen reported his dealings to Trump, and that Trump was involved in one of the deals they've heard so much about. The defense has done its best to distance Trump from the hush-money deals, particularly during Keith Davidson's cross-examination. But primary source evidence is hard to wave away. That recording, from Cohen's phone, was a doozy."

On May 3, Hope Hicks, Trump's 2016 campaign press secretary who went on to serve as his White House communications director, said Trump was concerned about the stories regarding the affair allegations with Stormy Daniels and how they would specifically be viewed by his wife, Melania Trump," Fox News reported.

A text from Hicks when word that the Washington Post was about to report the story of the infamous Access Hollywood tape read, "Deny, deny, deny."

But Hicks also testified "Mr. Trump's opinion was that it was better to be dealing with it now and that it would have been bad to have that put out before the election," according to the New York Times.

HuffPost's Matt Shuham, who was in the courtroom, reported Hicks ended her testimony with the prosecution by recounting how Trump had lied to her in detail about the involvement of his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Trump claimed Cohen had personally paid off Stormy Daniels, with whom Trump was accused of having an affair, as a show of generosity and loyalty to the future president, Hicks told the court. But Hicks said she didn't buy that claim: "I didn't know Michael to be an especially charitable person or selfless person. He's the kind of person who seeks credit."

On May 6, former Trump Organization controller Jeff McConney testified that the Trump Organization switched from cutting Michael Cohen's legal services reimbursement checks for the Stormy Daniel $130,000 payment from the company trust account to cutting them from Donald Trump's personal account when Trump was the president and living and in Washington, D.C. -- something that presented a challenge. That led to testimony that suggested checks were sent to the White House while Trump was the sitting president.

According to Michael Sisak at the Associated Press, "A bank statement displayed in court showed Cohen paying $130,000 to Davidson, Daniels' lawyer, on Oct. 27, 2016, out of an account for an entity Cohen created for the purpose. (Current resident of a New York jail and former Trump Organization CFO Allen) Weisselberg's handwritten notes about reimbursing Cohen were stapled to the bank statement in the company's files, McConney said.

"Those notes spell out a plan to pay Cohen a base reimbursement of $180,000 — covering the payment to Davidson and an unrelated technology bill. That total was then doubled or "grossed up" to cover the state, city and federal taxes Weisselberg estimated Cohen would incur on the payments. Weisselberg then added a $60,000 bonus, for a total of $420,000, according to the notes. That money was to be paid out in 12 monthly installments of $35,000 each.

According to testimony, Cohen was paid $315,000 out of Trump's personal account and $105,000 out of the Trump trust.

On May 7, Stormy Daniels was called by the prosecution and told the court that Trump was on the bed when she came out of the bathroom when they met at a Lake Tahoe celebrity golf tournament in 2006, ABC News"Mr. Trump had come into the bedroom and was on the bed, basically between myself and the exit," Daniels said. Trump was wearing his "boxer shorts and T-shirt," she said. Daniels then testified the two had sex.

CNN reported Daniels said that in 2015, after Trump began running for president, her then-publicist Gina Rodriguez tried to sell her story. But Rodriguez didn't find much interest until after the "Access Hollywood" tape of Trump was released in October 2016 – eventually leading to the discussions with AMI and then Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels $130,000 not to go public with her case.

Defense attorney Susan Necheles on May 9 began by resuming her cross-examination of Daniels by focusing on Daniels' motivation for selling her story ahead of the 2016 election.

Daniels previously testified that she wanted to get her story out but was afraid for her safety, so she opted instead to sign the nondisclosure with Trump and receive $130,000.

Necheles made an effort to bring doubt to Stormy's story about sex with Trump. She told Daniels, "You have a lot of experience making phony stories about sex."

Daniels replied, "Wow. That's not how I would put it. The sex in the films is very much real, just like what happened to the in that room."

Daniels, who had said sex between the two lasted 90 seconds, also commented, "If that story was untrue, I would have written it to be a lot better."

(Necheles repeatedly, in questioning Daniels, used Daniels' name for Trump, "orange turd," to identify her client.)

The day before, Judge Merchan criticized the defense team for not objecting when Daniels said Trump didn't use a condom. The judge said the line of questioning was used because Trump's lawyers denied in their opening statement the encounter ever took place, ABC News reported May 9.

The judge also denied the defense's second motion for dismissal, using Trump attorney Todd Blanche's opening statement again that Trump did not have sex with Daniels to show her testimony was relevant. "The fact that the testimony is prejudicial and messy, according to Mr. Blanche, that is why Mr. Trump tried so hard to prevent people from hearing about this."

The judge also wouldn't loosen the gag order and let Trump respond out of court to Daniels' allegations of sex. The prosecutor said the appropriate place for Trump to respond is in the courthouse. The prosecutor said Daniels' details regarding their alleged sexual encounter makes her story more "credible."

The New York Times reported that on Oct. 10, former White House aide Madeline Westerhout testified that Trump would sign checks sent from his family business, the Trump Organization, often stapled to the related invoices. She said she saw him sign them at the Resolute Desk and sometimes, in Sharpie. She also testified that she had helped schedule a February 2017 meeting between Cohen and Trump in the White House. 

Under the questioning of prosecutors on May 13, Michael Cohen said Trump's main concern when the Access Hollywood tape hit was the impact on the campaign, ABC News reported. Trump told him "Push it past the election because if I win it it has no relevance." Cohen also testified Trump was angry at him when Trump learned Stormy Daniels was shopping her allegations in 2016 of their alleged tryst. He wasn't thinking about Melania."

According to Fox News, Cohen secretly recorded Trump promising to pay National Enquirer's Pecker $150,000 to buy and then kill the Karen McDougal allegation about a long-term romance. He also testified he wouldn't have paid Daniels without Trump's approval and that the reimbursement he received for the $130,000 payment to Stormy was never a retainer for legal services.

The next day, May 14, Cohen testified that the "invoices he submitted to the Trump organization in 2017 for reimbursement of his $130,000 payment to Daniels was false because he pretended they were for a legal retainer, of which there was none." He met with the president in the White House to discuss being reimbursed and President Trump signed most of the checks he received evidence showed.

Cohen reiterated his testimony that he paid off Daniels and McDougal in order to "ensure" Trump's electon.

A convicted felony, Cohen admitted to numerous lies to federal agencies and Congress in order to protect Trump (and himself).

On May 16, the defense aggressively attacked Cohen as a convicted, serial liar who was a dishonest and unreliable witness. The Associated Press reported a lawyer for the former president accused Cohen of being a "serial fabulist who is bent on seeing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee behind bars." After Cohen's testimony, CNN's legal analyst Elie Honig said, "I don't think I've ever seen a star cooperating witness get his knees chopped out quite as clearly and dramatically as what just happened with Michael Cohen." The prosecutor's star witness, under heated cross-examination by the defense attorney who charged the former "fixer" of lying about talking to Trump about the payment to Stormy Daniels, accused Cohen of mixing up his dates and times and that the conversation could never had taken place because the call lasted less than two minutes.

The prosecution rested its case May 20 after cross-examination of Michael Cohen. The defense has now moved onto its shortlist of witnesses, The Hill reported. Trump has denied wrongdoing, saying that the money paid to Cohen was indeed a legal expense and contending his prosecution is politically motivated.

Cohen admitted to defrauding the Trump Organization by claiming he had paid more out of his own funds than he really had done in a matter unrelated to Stormy Daniels.

The defense case lasted only part of the day May 20 and May 21 before resting. Its chief witness, attorney Robert Castillo, testified attacking the credibility of Cohen. Castillo was admonished by the judge for his behavior. 

 The defense asked the court - again - to dismiss the charges, calling Cohen an "uncredible witness."

The former President did not take the stand in his own defense. He ignored questions from reporters about why he didn't testify.

Ultimately, there was little suspense in the decision not to testify: Part of the reason Trump was never expected to take the stand was the scope of the cross-examination. Prosecutors asked the judge to allow them to question the former president about a litany of his misdeeds related to other cases in order to impeach Trump's credibility as a witness.

Following a routine hearing on what would be allowed – known as a Sandoval hearing – the judge ruled that prosecutors would have been allowed to question Trump about the $464 civil fraud verdict from last fall's case brought by the New York attorney general, Trump's two violations of the judge's gag order in that case, the verdicts against Trump in the two E. Jean Carroll defamation cases and the settlement Trump reached with the New York attorney general that led to the dissolution of the Donald J. Trump foundation.

In addition, Trump would have been subjected to questions related to the case, of course, including his alleged affairs with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

In his closing argument May 28, defense attorney Todd Blanche told the jury:

  • "You cannot convict President Trump."
  • Trump has denied an affair with Stormy Daniels.
  • There was no evidence or intent to defraud, mislead, hide or falsify business records by the former president.
  • There is "no evidence" Trump knew anything about the Trump Organization voucher system and thus did not know anything about any alleged falsification.
  • The lack of testimony from Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump is reason to acquit Trump since they ran the business.
  • Michael Cohen is the "greatest liar of all time." He never told Trump about paying hush money to keep Stormy Daniels quiet.
  • Trump is innocent of any allegations regarding the payment to alleged girlfriend Karen McDougal.
  • There is nothing illegal or unusual about the National Enquirer killing a story about a national figure.
  • During the recorded telephone conversation about the National Enquirer, it is not clear Trump and Cohen were talking about a pay-off and "clearly" Trump had no idea what Cohen was talking about.
  • "It doesn't matter if there was a conspiracy to win the election. Every campaign is a conspiracy to promote a candidate."
  • Played a portion of Cohen's podcast in which The Fixer angrily and with great malice says he hopes Trump ends up in jail.
  • "You cannot send someone to prison based on the words of Michael Cohen." (Judge Merchan then chastised Blanche for imploring jurors not to send Trump to prison, telling the jury that the lawyer's comment was "improper, and you must disregard it. If there is a verdict of guilty it will be up to me to impose a sentence.")

Blache didn't say anything about two Trump Organization memos, both including handwritten notes by its chief financial officer, regarding paying Stormy Daniels $130,000 and another paying Cohen $420,000. Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass, during the prosecution's summation, made the following points:

  • There is a mountain of evidence in the case, saying "it's difficult to conceive of a case with more corroboration than this one."

  • Trump's main concern prior to the 2016 election was not Stormy Daniels or Karen McDougal or his family but the upcoming presidential election.
  • Trump and Cohen spoke twice on the morning of Oct. 26, 2016, right before Cohen went to First Republic to submit paperwork to open his new account and to send the wire transfer to Keith Davidson on Daniels' behalf.

  • The jury saw two handwritten notes by Trump Organization officials describing how Cohen was to be paid for work and costs related to the hush-money payoffs.

  • Arguing Trump in his books has emphasized readers pay attention to detail in their businesses, "If Trump didn't know about the scheme, why was he just signing the checks for "services rendered' for $35,000 each month?"

  • "Blanche said, well, (Cohen) stole $60,000 because (his $400,000-plus reimbursement) was grossed up. But that means the defense is trying to have it both ways. They can call him a thief or claim it wasn't a reimbursement but you can't have it both ways."

  • "You don't need Michael Cohen." He added that Hope Hicks, Rhona Graff, Madeleine Westerhout, Jeffrey McConney and Deborah Tarasoff were all witnesses who like Trump but confirmed Cohen's testimony.

*

Trump indicted for refusing to return top-secret government documents; judge drops May 20 trial date

The Latest:  "The portrait that has emerged so far is that of an industrious but inexperienced and often insecure judge whose reluctance to rule decisively even on minor matters has permitted one of the country's most important criminal cases to become bogged down in a logjam of unresolved issues," the New York Times reported May 29.

"She rarely issues rulings that explain her thinking in a way that might reveal her legal influences or any guiding philosophy. And that has made the hearings, which have taken place in Federal District Court in Fort Pierce, Fla., all the more important in assessing her management of the case."

"Regardless of her motives, Judge Cannon has effectively imperiled the future of a criminal prosecution that once seemed the most straightforward of the four Mr. Trump is facing."

Judge Cannon blocked Special Counsel Jack Smith's request to place a gag order on Donald Trump during his classified documents trial, the Independent reported May 28. Federal Judge Aileen Cannon wrote that Smith's request was "wholly lacking in substance and professional courtesy." Smith placed the request on May 24, asking the judge to limit the comments Trump could make about the law enforcement officers who searched his Mar-a-Lago resort.

However, Smith failed to confer with Trump's lawyers before filing the motion, sparking a rebuttal from the attorneys and a warning from Cannon, Newsweek reported. "Sufficient time needs to be afforded to permit reasonable evaluation of the requested relief by opposing counsel and to allow for adequate follow-up discussion as necessary about the specific factual and legal basis underlying the motion.

"Any future, non-emergency motion brought in this case—whether on the topic of release conditions or anything else—shall not be filed absent meaningful, timely, and professional conferral. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in sanctions."

Trump had claimed that Biden had "AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE" while executing a court-approved search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. Trump issued an outlandish fundraising appeal soon after, falsely claiming that President Joe Biden was 'locked & loaded' and 'ready to take me out' during the FBI's search of his glorified country club.

Smith made a "mistake" when he charged Trump in Florida and not Washington, D.C., Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe said, suggesting that the decision from Smith's office not to indict the former president in the nation's capital may prove costly for the federal prosecutor due to decisions being made by Cannon.

Newsweek reported that a CNN report shows that Washington, D.C. judges work faster - rule on motions, etc. - than Cannon has proceeded.

Judge Cannon has set aside several motions for later rulings and has postponed the May 20 trial date. Indefinitely.

One argument awaiting a ruling is whether conversations the former president's had with his ex-attorney Evan Corcoran, who was present at Mar-a-Lago during the FBI search for sensitive materials in August 2022, could be dismissed as evidence while citing attorney-client privilege. In March, 2023, D.C. District Judge Beryl Howell rejected this argument on the basis the normally absolute privilege cannot be cited if the conversations are allegedly attempting to cover up or engage in a crime, and ordered Corcoran to testify in front of the grand jury.

Bradley P. Moss, a lawyer who specializes in national security, told CNN that Howell's ruling should have given Cannon a "clear path" on how to consider the attorney-client privilege issues argument.

"That she continues to sit on the matter is inexcusable," Moss told the network.

Timeline of Mar-a-Lago documents case, alleged crimes, the federal investigation and indictment

Last Full Day in Office, Jan. 19, 2021: Reports surface in June, 2023 that Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, removed more than a thousand pages of classified documents from the White House late at night on orders from the president.

16 Days After Leaving Office: President Biden announces that, unlike other living former presidents, Donald Trump will not be receiving classified intelligence briefings due to "erratic behavior," adding, "What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?"  (See "Months after leaving the White House" immediately below.)

106 Days After Leaving Office: On May 6, 2021 the chief counsel for the National Archives and Records Administration, Gary Stern, emails Trump's legal team saying some high-profile presidential documents appear to be missing. "We know things are very chaotic, as they always are in the course of a one-term transition. But it is absolutely necessary that we obtain and account for all presidential records."

NARA then goes back-and-forth "throughout 2021" with Trump representatives seeking the return of the records.

117 Days After Leaving Office (approx): According to the U.S. government indictment of Trump on June 8, 2023, Trump moves some of the documents he took with him after leaving the White House to his private golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. The Bedminster Club is not an authorized location for the storage, possession, review, display or discussion of classified documents.

176 Days After Leaving Office (approx): CNN and The Guardian report on May 31, 2023 that federal prosecutors obtained an audio recording from a July, 2021 meeting at Trump's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersy in which the former president acknowledges to visitors after leaving the White House that he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran and admits he cannot discuss the document because he no longer possesses the sweeping presidential power to declassify now that he's out of office, but suggests that he should have done so when he was still in the White House.

The visitors were journalists and staff who did not have security clearances that would allow them access to classified information nor was the location - a golf course - an authorized location to share top-secret government documents.

Note: In an interview with Fox News in June, 2023, Trump denied that the material in his possession at Bedminster was a classified document. "I didn't have a document, per se. There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories and articles."  ABC News, however, reported in August, 2023 that an early draft of the prologue to Mark Meadows' book, "The Chief's Chief," included a description of Trump having a classified war plan "on the couch" at his office in Bedminster, New Jersey, at a meeting attended by Meadows' ghostwriter and publicist. However, the reference to that document being in Trump's possession was removed before the book was published. Multiple sources tell ABC News Meadows acknowledged to Special Counsel Jack Smith's investigators that he asked that the paragraph be changed because it would be "problematic" had Trump had such a document in his possession. Trump, however, was subsequently indicted by Smith on charges of possessing the top-secret classified document.

Months after leaving the White House:  Trump allegedly discusses potentially sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines with a member of his Mar-a-Lago Club -- an Australian billionaire who then allegedly shared the information with scores of others, including more than a dozen foreign officials, several of his own employees, and a handful of journalists.

238 Days After Leaving Office: National Archives lawyer Stern is told by former deputy White House counsel Pat Philbin that he was told by former Trump chief of staff, Mark Meadows, that none of the material at Mar-a-Lago is sensitive or classified and that Trump only had 12 boxes of "news clippings."

In an interview with New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, Trump told Haberman he left White House with "nothing of great urgency, no," before mentioning letters that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had sent him, which, she later reported, he had showed off to so many Oval Office visitors that advisers were concerned he was being careless with sensitive material. "You were able to take those with you?" Haberman asked. Trump replied, "No, I think that's in the archives, but ... Most of it is in the archives, but the Kim Jong-un letters ... We have incredible things." (Earlier, in January, 2020, Trump indicated during a recorded interview with Bob Woodward that he knew the letters he wrote to Kim Jong Un were top secret. In the recording, Trump can be heard telling Woodward to refrain from publicizing that it was Trump himself who had shown the letters to him. "Nobody else has them, but I want you to treat them with respect. Don't say I gave them to you. Okay?")

303 Days After Leaving Office: In late 2021, Trump reportedly goes through boxes of documents he had taken from the White House to Mar-a-Lago. Some of those boxes - which included 197 documents marked classified - are finally transferred to the National Archives in January, 2022.

At the same time, Trump is told by one of his former White House attorneys, Eric Herschmann, that he could face legal liability if he did not return all government materials.

340 Days After Leaving Office: Officials at the National Archives in January, 2022 receive 15 boxes of materials from the former president's Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida. 

(The media reported in August, 2022 that among the 15 boxes of materials returned from Mar-a-Lago were 700 pages of highly-classified materials, some of it "extraordinarily sensitive information," including 184 classified documents, 92 documents marked "secret" and 25 marked "top secret.")

Trump directs a lawyer working for him to tell the archives that Trump had returned all the documents he'd taken from the White House. The lawyer, Alex Cannon, declined to convey Trump's message because he was not sure if it was true.

385 Days After Leaving Office: The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) asks the Justice Department to examine Trump's handling of White House records, the Washington Post reported Feb. 9.

In a statement the same day, Trump said he had engaged in "collaborative and respectful" discussions with the Archives and had arranged for the "transport of boxes that contained Presidential Records in compliance with the Presidential Records Act."

"The papers were given easily and without conflict and on a very friendly basis, which is different from the accounts being drawn up by the Fake News Media," he says in a statement. "In fact, it was viewed as routine and 'no big deal.' In actuality, I have been told I was under no obligation to give this material based on various legal rulings that have been made over the years."

442 Days After Leaving Office: The Washington Post reported April 7, 2022 that the Justice Department has begun taking steps to investigate former President Trump's removal of presidential records to Mar-a-Lago.

464 Days After Leaving Office: On April 29, the Justice Department sent a letter to Trump's lawyers as part of its effort to access the 15 boxes that Trump delivered in January, notifying them that more than 100 classified documents, totaling more than 700 pages, were found in the boxes. The letter says the FBI and US intelligence agencies need "immediate access" to these materials because of "important national security interests." Trump lawyers ask NARA to delay its plans to give the FBI access to these materials. Trump's lawyers say they want time to examine the materials to see if anything is privileged, and that they are making a "protective assertion of executive privilege" over all the documents.

474 Days After Leaving Office: On May 10, Debra Steidel Wall, the acting Archivist of the United States, who runs NARA, informs Trump's lawyers that she is rejecting their claims of "protective" executive privilege over all the materials taken from Mar-a-Lago, and will turn over the materials to the FBI and US intelligence agencies. Wall says she reached this decision after consulting with top lawyers from the Justice Department and the White House Counsel's office. As to Trump's claim of executive privilege, Wall wrote that there is "no precedent for an assertion of executive privilege by a former President against an incumbent President to prevent the latter from obtaining NARA Presidential records."

475 Days After Leaving Office: On May 11, the Justice Department subpoenas Trump, demanding classified documents that still remain at Mar-a-Lago. (In October, 2022, it is reported by the Washington Post that, according to Trump employees cooperating with the FBI, Trump responded to the subpoena by ordering employees to move boxes of U.S. government documents from a storage room to his office at Mar-a-Lago. Security camera video confirms the account.)

477 Days After Leaving Office: Federal prosecutors begin a grand jury investigation into whether classified documents were mishandled and of criminal obstruction of justice. (Intelligencer reported Aug. 12, 2022 that at this same time Trump's attorneys arranged for a DOJ National Security Division prosecutor and three FBI agents to come to Mar-a-Lago on June 3, 2022 to pick up the items listed in the subpoena.)

482 Days After Leaving Office (approx): An unidentified female member of the Trump family texts Trump's personal aide, Walt Nauta, about boxes he had removed from the estate.  (Nauta would be indicted in June, 2023 for helping his boss move boxes of classified documents around the Mar-a-Lago property in an effort to allude the FBI and Trump's own attorneys.)

487 Days After Leaving Office: On May 23 Trump's then-lead attorney on the matter, Evan Corcoran, warned the former president in person, at Mar-a-Lago, that not only did Trump have to fully comply with the May 11 subpoena, but that the FBI might search the estate if he didn't, according to Corcoran's audio notes following the conversation.

Only minutes later, during a pool-side chat away from Trump, Corcoran got his own warning from another Trump attorney: If you push Trump to comply with the subpoena, "he's just going to go ballistic."

Trump asked Corcoran, "what happens if we just don't respond at all or don't play ball with them?" Corcoran told Trump. "Well, there's a prospect that they could go to a judge and get a search warrant, and that they could arrive here." Trump still insisted, "I don't want anybody looking through my boxes," and, "Wouldn't it be better if we just told them we don't have anything here?"

498 Days After Leaving Office: Two of Donald Trump's employees - including Trump's valet, Walt Nauta - move boxes of papers into a storage area the day before Justice Department official Jay Bratt arrives at Mar-a-Lago, the Washington Post reported. (It is later reported that Nauta moved approximately 64 boxes from the storage room between May 24 and June 1, 2022 but only returned 25 to 30 boxes to the same storage room on June 2.)

499 Days After Leaving Office: According to the Washington Post, FBI agents and Jay Bratt, the chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the Justice Department, on June 3 meet with Trump's attorneys - former OAN host Christina Bobb and Evan Corcoran - at Mar-a-Lago to collect material in response to the May 22 grand jury subpoena demanding the return of all classified documents. However, "The former President's counsel explicitly prohibited government personnel from opening or looking inside any of the boxes that remained in the storage room, giving no opportunity for the government to confirm that no documents with classification markings remained."

FBI agents were, instead, given "a single Redweld envelope, double-wrapped in tape, containing the documents." That envelope, according to the FBI, contained 38 unique documents with classification markings, including 16 documents marked secret and 17 marked top secret.

The New York Times reported that "around" the time of the June 3 meeting, the feds received a "written declaration from a Trump lawyer attesting that all the material marked classified in the boxes had been turned over." The declaration, which also stated that a "diligent search" had been undertaken, was drafted by Corcoran and signed by Bobb. (It was reported in October, 2022 that Corcoran conducted the search and instructed Bobb to sign the letter, which she did after insisting twice that he insert the phrase, "based upon the information that has been provided to me.")

The Wall Street Journal later reported that sometime after the June 3 meeting a mole in Trump's orbit told the FBI that Trump and his team are still withholding information. And that after the June 3 visit the Justice Department "developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government's investigation."

Trump is put on notice that he could not retain any classified documents after he was subpoenaed for their return. Hugo Lowell at The Guardian later reported the warning was conveyed to Trump by Evan Corcoran.

Fast-forward to June 8, 2023: The indictment of the former president alleges that at this time Trump had boxes of classified documents put on an airplane taking Trump and his family north for the summer. The boxes were moved by aide Walt Nauta and others on the same day Trump's attorneys were handing over to the federal government a certified letter claiming all the documents had been returned. The indictment also alleges Trump had Nauta move more classified documents within the Mar-a-Lago estate to evade detection by the FBI and Trump's own attorneys.

507 Days After Leaving Office: On June 8, the Justice Department sends Trump a letter stating the government documents he continues to hold at Mar-a-Lago are not stored in a secure location.

518 Days After Leaving Office: Trump's valet tells investigators at a federal grand jury that he randomly chose boxes of documents to return to the National Archives and that Trump himself directed that dozens more boxes located at the resort wouldn't be returned. Walt Nauta's testimony played a part in giving the FBI justification to execute the search warrant on the former president's Florida resort two months later. When one grand juror asked Nauta if he would "just pick some off the top," Nauta said "yes." At one point in the process of choosing boxes for Trump to review before returning them to the Archives, Nauta said Trump "was like, okay, that's it." Nauta's account was corroborated by a second witness, whose identity is not publicly known. Both said that Trump gave the direction not to give the National Archives any more boxes.

520 Days After Leaving Office: On June 24, the Justice Department hands a new subpoena to the Trump Organization, which owns Mar-a-Lago. The subpoena seeks surveillance video to help show who might have been coming and going from the storage area where (Trump's attorneys) indicated 50 to 55 boxes of records taken from the White House were being stored. The video footage shows various people entering and leaving the room, according to a person with direct knowledge of it.

562 Days After Leaving Office: FBI officials are able to establish probable cause that a crime has been committed and obtain a search warrant from a federal magistrate judge in West Palm Beach on Aug.5 to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate/hotel, according to the Miami Herald.

The New York Times reported the material still in Trump's possession is so sensitive that DOJ officials felt they had to take the "politically explosive step" of raiding the former president's home. The paper also reported the Justice Department reviewed surveillance footage at Mar-a-Lago that showed that in one instance boxes were moved in and out of the storage room on the property.

565 Days After Leaving Office: And on Aug. 8, after the FBI had arrived at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home with a search warrant. Trump, who was in New York, announces on Truth Social the FBI are inside his Mar-a-Lago home.

The Wall Street Journal reported FBI agents who search Trump's Mar-a-Lago home remove 26 boxes of materials, including four sets marked "top secret" and meant to be only available in special government facilities.

FBI agents recover one set of documents marked as 'Various classified/TS/SCI documents,' an abbreviation that refers to top-secret/sensitive compartmented information. In total, there are 102 pages recovered bearing classification markings.

The Washington Post reported that a document describing a foreign government's military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found at Trump's home/public resort. "Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them. Only the president, some members of his Cabinet or a near-Cabinet-level official could authorize other government officials to know details of these special-access programs."

The documents included highly sensitive intelligence regarding Iran's missile program and China, the Washington Post reported. "If shared with others, the people said, such information could expose intelligence-gathering methods that the United States wants to keep hidden from the world."

The New York Times reported "Federal agents who executed the warrant did so to investigate potential crimes associated with violations of the Espionage Act, which outlaws the unauthorized retention of national security information that could harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary; a federal law that makes it a crime to destroy or conceal a document to obstruct a government investigation; and another statute associated with unlawful removal of government materials."

583 Days After Leaving Office: On Aug. 26, the FBI affidavit - highly redacted - used to successfully convince a judge to approve the search warrant used in the Aug. 8 raid is made public. Fox News reported the affidavit stated the FBI believed it had "probable cause to believe" that, based on their investigation, they would find additional records containing National Defense Information if allowed to search Trump's home.

Fox News reported the affidavit also states, "The government is conducting a criminal investigation concerning the improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces, as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of government records." 

The signed affidavit by a FBI official concludes, "Based on the foregoing facts and circumstances, I submit that probable cause exists to believe that evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation 18 U.S.C. §§ 793(e), 2071, or 1519 will be found at the PREMISES."

590 Days After Leaving Office: US District Judge Aileen Cannon on Sept. 2 releases a detailed inventory from the FBI search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort hotel/country club/home. The FBI recovered more than 11,000 government documents and photographs, including over 184 records with "Classified" markings. Of those documents, 67 were marked as "confidential," 92 were marked as "secret," and 25 documents were marked as "top secret." Agents found one document marked "secret" and one marked "confidential" in the desk drawer in Trump's office. (Note: On July 13, 2023, NPR reported the FBI "gathered about 340 classified documents from the Mar-a-Lago resort.")

603 Days After Leaving Office: Trump-appointed Judge Cannon on Sept. 15, at the request of Trump's attorneys, names federal senior Judge Raymond Dearie to serve as special master to review the materials seized in the FBI's search of former President Trump's Florida residence and resort. Cannon also rejects the Justice Department's request to revive its criminal investigation into classified documents seized at Mar-a-Lago. Her ruling, which argued the former president should be given special consideration, halts the department's investigation.

607 Days After Leaving Office: Trump's legal team acknowledged the possibility that the former president could be indicted, The Guardian reported. "Despite claiming days earlier that Trump couldn't imagine being charged, his lawyers made the stark admission in a court filing (Sept. 19)."

609 Days After Leaving Office: The New York Times reports the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Sept. 21 rejected Judge Cannon's decision and restored the Justice Department's access to documents with classified markings.

622 Days After Leaving Office: On Oct. 4, Trump filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court challenging part of a Sept. 21 ruling from the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

That ruling allowed the Justice Department to continue reviewing classified documents seized at Trump's Florida estate on Aug. 8 and blocked Trump-appointed Judge Cannon's ruling requiring the government to submit all the documents to an independent arbiter, or special master, for review.

Trump's lawyers said in their application that it was essential for the special master to have access to the classified records to "determine whether documents bearing classification markings are in fact classified, and regardless of classification, whether those records are personal records or presidential records." The Justice Department argued the documents, including highly classified top secret documents, belong to the U.S. government.

627 Days After Leaving Office: Trump, at a political rally in Arizona, admits he took U.S. government documents with him after leaving the White House. "I had a small number of boxes in storage at Mar-a-Lago...They should give immediately back everything they've taken from me because it's mine."

631 Days After Leaving Office: The Supreme Court rejects former President Trump's Oct. 4 appeal to delay the Justice Department's criminal investigation into his handling of classified documents. The high court left in place part of a Sept. 21 decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that barred the special master, federal Judge Raymond Dearie, from reviewing the classified documents. Judge Dearie will continue to review the non-classified documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago and the Justice Department will continue its criminal investigation into the handling of the classified documents.

679 Days After Leaving Office: Attorney General Merrick Garland names Jack Smith as special counsel to investigate the unlawful retention of national defense information at former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, Fox News reported Nov. 18.  Smith, a former assistant U.S. attorney and chief to the DOJ's public integrity section, will oversee the investigation into Trump's retention of classified documents after leaving the White House, whether the former president obstructed the federal government's investigation into the matter and whether Trump or other officials and entities interfered with the peaceful transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election, including the certification of the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, 2021.

689 Days After Leaving Office: Trump, who initially claimed the FBI planted the top-secret documents found in his Mar-a-Lago estate/hotel in August, again admitted on Nov. 28 taking them after his term expired on Jan. 20, 2021. In a Truth Social posting, Trump asks, "When will you invade the other Presidents' homes in search of documents, which are voluminous, which they took with them, but not nearly so openly and transparently as I did?"

692 Days After Leaving Office: An 11th Circuit federal appeals panel, all of whom were appointed by either President Trump or President George W. Bush, overturned Judge Cannon's order creating a third-party special master to review documents seized at Mar-a-Lago. The Dec. 1 ruling clears the way for federal investigators to use the documents in the criminal investigation of former President Trump. The appeals court directly criticized Judge Cannon's special master order, stating: "We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so. . . . To create a special exception here would defy our Nation's foundational principle that our law applies 'to all, without regard to numbers, wealth, or rank.'"

715 Days After Leaving Office: Lawyers of former President Trump returned to the FBI "a box containing for documents or partial documents, totaling six pages, with classified marking found at Mar-a-Lago. The documents were found in the former president's bedroom closet.

838 Days After Leaving Office:  Asked at a May 10 CNN Town Hall why he took classified documents with him after leaving the White House, Trump claimed he "had every right to under the Presidential Records Act."

(In reality, the Presidential Records Act provides that as soon as a president leaves office, the National Archives becomes the legal custodian of the president's records, which belong to the public.)

Trump also repeated the claim that by simply removing classified documents from the White House he had declassified them. "And, by the way, they become automatically declassified when I took them."

When asked if he showed any of the classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago property to anyone, Trump replied, "Not really. I would have the right to. By the way, they were declassified after..." When the host asked, "What do you mean not really?" Trump replied, "Not that I can think of."

(In late June, 2023, an audio tape is released in which Trump is heard showing top-secret documents to visitors to his New Jersey golf course. The tape ends with Trump commenting: "See as President I could have declassified it. Now I can't, you know, but this is still a secret…It's so cool…Hey, bring some, uh, bring some Cokes in please.")

867 Days After Leaving Office:  Former President Trump and his aide, Walt Nauta, are indicted on June 8, 2023 on 37 criminal charges. Trump becomes the first U.S. president or ex-president to face federal criminal charges.  The case is titled, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA WEST PALM BEACH DIVISION United States of America, Plaintiff, v. DONALD J. TRUMP, WALTINE NAUTA, and CARLOS DE OLIVEIRA, Defendants.

NBC News reported: "The indictment accuses Trump of breaking seven laws, including 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information and single counts of false statements and representations, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record, corruptly concealing a document, concealing a document in a federal investigation and a scheme to conceal."

The 49-page indictment, issued by a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida reads, in part: "The classified documents Trump stored in his boxes included information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack. The unauthorized disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods."

According to Fox News, the special counsel claims that Trump showed classified documents to persons not cleared to review top-secret government documents in twice in 2021--once in July at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey and once in August or September.

The indictment says Trump also suggested his attorney "hide or destroy documents called for by the grand jury subpoena" and directed his aide—co-defendant Walt Nauta—to "move boxes of documents called for by the grand jury subpoena, while claiming that he was cooperating fully." (The indictment only relates to documents Trump refused to return, not any of the many he voluntarily returned after leaving the White House.)

The indictment includes photos of boxes of classified documents stored in bathrooms, ballrooms and bedrooms at a facility - Mar-a-Lago - visited by tens of thousands during the year-and-a-half Trump kept them in his possession.

872 Days After Leaving Office: Former President Trump is arrested, fingerprinted, arraigned and pleas not guilty to all charges in a Miami federal criminal court on June 13, 2023.

878 Days After Leaving Office: "Why not just hand them over then?" Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked Trump on June 19.

"Because I had boxes. I want to go through the boxes and get all my personal things out," Trump responded. "I don't want to hand that over to [the National Archives] yet. And I was very busy, as you've sort of seen."

Baier noted that the Justice Department's indictment laid out how Trump allegedly told an aide to move the boxes containing classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate while also telling his lawyers to indicate he was cooperating.

"Before I send boxes over, I have to take all of my things out. These boxes were interspersed with all sorts of things, golf shirts, clothing, pants, shoes, there were many things."

910 Days After Leaving Office: Judge Cannon - yes, the same Judge Cannon that ruled in favor of Trump back at "603 Days After Leaving Office" - will preside over Trump's criminal trial in the case. 

916 Days After Leaving Office: Jack Smith brought additional charges against Trump - he now faces 40 felony counts in the case - alleging the former president asked a staffer to delete footage from Mar-a-Lago security cameras. CNN reported July 27, 2023 new charges were also filed against Trump's aide Walt Nauta and Mar-a-Lago maintenance manager Carlos De Oliveira, who allegedly helped Nauta move boxes of classified documents around Mar-a-Lago after the Justice Department first subpoenaed Trump for classified documents last May. Smith also accuses Trump of acting with de Oliveira and Nauta to try to delete the footage from the property's security cameras. (Trump and Nauta both pleaded not guilty on Aug. 10. Trump on "Meet the Press" Sept. 17 said he would testify in court that he did not ask a staffer to delete footage from a security camera.)

1022 Days After Leaving Office: On Nov. 10, Trump acknowledged that "various people" in and around the club saw the "papers and boxes" that he took with him, which prosecutors say contained 1,545 pages of classified material, CNBC reported. "Of course they did! They may have been the boxes etc. that were openly and plainly brought from the White House, as is my right under the Presidential Records Act," Trump posted on social media.


Active lawsuits

Partner, estate of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick blame Trump, followers for his death

The estate of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died a day after defending the Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021 attack by Trump supporters, sued Donald Trump on Jan. 5, 2023, alleging the officer's death resulted from the former president's "incendiary" rhetoric and false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In a 47-page lawsuit, lawyers for Sicknick's estate said Trump "intentionally riled up the crowd and directed and encouraged a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol and attack those who opposed him." The lawsuit cited Trump's speech at the Ellipse earlier that day, in which he urged a crowd of supporters to "fight like hell" and march to the Capitol.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The lawsuit also names as defendants two men convicted in connection with the Capitol attack: Julian Elie Khater, who admitted last year to deploying a chemical spray against Sicknick and other officers; and George Pierre Tanios, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from the Capitol attack.  Khater and Tanios were sentenced on Jan. 27 to seven years in prison and time served, respectively.

NBC reported Sicknick's partner, Sandra Garza, is also a party to the suit and cites comments from the medical examiner that "all that transpired" on Jan. 6 "played a role in his condition." The suit seeks $10 million from Trump and $10 million each from Khater and Tanios.

The Wall Street Journal reported lawyers for Sicknick's estate are seeking damages for alleged wrongful death and conspiracy to violate civil rights from all the defendants, as well as claims for aiding and abetting an assault.

The Wall Street Journal reported that in April 2021, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Washington determined that Sicknick died of a stroke and ruled the manner of his death as natural, using a term it said applied if "disease alone causes death." The office said that if a death is "hastened by an injury," it wouldn't consider the manner of death to be natural.

(According to AXIOS, medical examiner Francisco J. Diaz told the Washington Post after the autopsy that events at the Capitol on Jan. 6 "played a role in his condition.")

On March 2, 2023 Trump asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, Law 360 reported. Trump's legal team claims he has "absolute immunity" for actions taken while he was in office. "Officer Sicknick's death is a tragedy. That does not make it a tort for which President Trump is liable."

Department of Justice prosecutors told the D.C. Court that the former president is not immune from the lawsuit, Law 360 also reported.

Federal Judge Amit Mehta denied former President Trump's attempt to delay the lawsuit, The Hill reported Oct. 18. "The balance of interests, including Plaintiff's and the public's in moving this matter forward, do not favor a stay."

No trial date has been set.

And then U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta of Washington, D.C. dismissed a wrongful death claim brought as part of the lawsuit, NBC News reported Jan. 2, 2024. Mehta ruled Sicknick's longtime partner Sandra Garza lacked standing to bring such a claim against Trump and defendants Khater and Tanios because she was not Sicknick's spouse and did not meet the legal definition of being his domestic partner. "[Garza's] contention that a 'domestic partnership' was established simply by Officer Sicknick having identified Garza as his 'domestic partner' in his will finds no basis in the plain text of the statute," Judge Mehta wrote. "Garza therefore cannot recover the damages she personally seeks under the Act."

However, Garza's civil suit, which she filed last year, remains active and will be allowed to continue on the remaining claim — that Trump, Khater and Tanios joined a civil conspiracy to interfere with civil rights. She is seeking $10 million in damages from each defendant. And other parts of the lawsuit are permitted to continue, including an allegation that Trump, Khater and Tanios engaged in a conspiracy to "violate civil rights."

*

NAACP, Democrat House members file lawsuit for Jan. 6 attack on Capitol; Trump, Pence don't see "eye to eye" on Jan. 6 violence 

Attorneys for the NAACP filed the lawsuit against former President Trump on Feb. 16, 2021 alleging Trump incited the riot at the U.S. Capitol with his false claims about a "stolen" election. The lawsuit claims the riot amounted to a conspiracy under the 1871 Klan Act, which, in this case, outlaws interfering with a person's or persons civil rights by stopping the certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College win. 

Also named in the suit is Trump's attorney during the post-election coup attempt, Rudy Giuliani, as well as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, two extremist groups that participated in the Jan. 6 riot.

Trump on Jan. 6, 2021 told the crowd to march to the Capitol to protest the certification. "You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong," Trump said. "We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore." 

Ten Democrat members of Congress added their names to the lawsuit on April 7. The amended lawsuit describes how each narrowly escaped the mob on Jan. 6 and how some still have nightmares and anxiety months later. The members joining the lawsuit are Reps. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Karen Bass of California, Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Veronica Escobar of Texas, Hank Johnson Jr. of Georgia, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Barbara Lee of California, Jerry Nadler of New York, Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Maxine Waters of California.

Trump attorney Jesse Binnall asked U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of Washington, D.C. to toss out this lawsuit, as well as those filed by Eric Swalwell and two injured U.S. Capitol Police officers, citing the president's "absolute immunity" from the civil suit on separation-of-powers and free speech grounds.

On May 27, a lawyer representing the far-right Oath Keepers militia group also asked a federal judge to throw out the lawsuit, Law & Crime reported. In a 32-page motion to dismiss filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. attorney Kerry Lee Morgan argued that "No Oath Keeper entered the Capitol violently or otherwise and therefor nothing in the amended complaint reaches to any violent act to physically prevent the House from observing the Electoral proceedings," the motion states. (However, in November, 2022, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and Florida chapter leader Kelly Meggs were convicted of seditious conspiracy and other charges stemming from a mob's attack on the U.S. Capitol. Both were sentenced to long prison terms.)

On Feb. 18, 2022 Judge Mehta rejected Trump's attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, the New York Post reported. "The President's actions here do not relate to his duties of faithfully executing the laws, conducting foreign affairs, commanding the armed forces, or managing the Executive Branch," Mehta wrote in the opinion. "They entirely concern his efforts to remain in office for a second term. These are unofficial acts, so the separation-of-powers concerns that justify the President's broad immunity are not present here." 

On March 18, Trump appealed the ruling.

In a court filing in Washington, D.C. on July 27, attorneys for former President Trump asked a judge to grant him total immunity against any civil lawsuits filed in conjunction with the Jan. 6th insurrection.

According to the Washington Examiner, in the brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the former president is also asking the court to overturn the ruling made in February by Judge Mehta rejecting Trump's motion to dismiss.

And then on Dec. 7 the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals debated whether Trump legally responsible for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Post reported.

The federal appeals court on Dec. 20 asked the Justice Department to weigh in on whether former President Trump should be protected by absolute immunity in civil lawsuits brought against him for his alleged role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack, CNN reported.

(Blog editor's note: See "Trump faces five separate lawsuits" below for more on Trump's request and Judge Mehta's decisions.)

According to Democracy Docket, Judge Tanya Chutkan will oversee the lawsuit against Trump and his campaign alleging they intentionally tried to disenfranchise Black voters, a violation of the Voting Rights Act.  Judge Chutkan is also overseeing the trial in which Trump is accused of election interference.  (See: "Federal grand jury indicts Donald Trump for Jan. 6 coup attempt, trial on hold while Supreme Court considers appeal.")

The Washington Post reported Dec. 1 that the appeals court ruled Trump can be held civilly liable for the actions of the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. "The unanimous decision by a federal appeals court in Washington is expected to be appealed and also offers insight into how the court could view Trump's argument that presidential immunity also protects him from being charged criminally for his efforts to stay in power after the 2020 election."

Mediaite reported Trump, who is widely accused of fueling the violence on that day to stay in power, had argued that as president he should be immune from any litigation, but the court instead ruled Trump's actions were taken "in his personal capacity as a presidential candidate."

CNN's Katelyn Polantz reported the ruling makes "new law around the presidency (and) will have significant implications for several cases against Trump in the Washington, DC, federal court related to the 2020 election." Polantz said this "is a major decision, a major evolution of what the law is. The other thing that this three-judge panel in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is writing is that they are saying that there are campaign actions and there are presidency actions."

"And what it is that the president does while he is campaigning for reelection, including that rally on January 6th, that can be considered a campaign action."

Trump is passing up the chance to add a fourth case to a trio of Trump-related appeals already stacked up at the Supreme Court, Politico's Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein reported Feb. 15, 2024. Trump elected not to ask the justices to reverse a federal appeals court ruling issued in December rejecting his claim that presidents have absolute immunity from being sued for actions taken while they are in office.

That means at least three lawsuits brought against him in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol can advance to the next phase — a period of limited evidence-gathering related to Trump's activities on Jan. 6, 2021 and whether they were official or political in nature.

Various media outlets reported April 18 that federal Judge Amit Mehta rejected Donald Trump's effort to delay several civil lawsuits that attempt to hold him accountable, including those filed by Democrat members of the House, U.S. Capitol police officers and Rep. Eric Swalwell. They are all seeking damages, blaming Trump for allegedly inciting the Jan.6 riot at the Capitol. (Blog editor's note: Trump decision also affects lawsuits found in blog under "Rep. Swalwell files lawsuit alleging Trump, others responsible for Jan. 6 riot" and "Trump faces five separate lawsuits by Capitol and D.C. police for Jan. 6 riot.")

Trump, Pence don't see "eye to eye" on Jan. 6 violence

The Latest: The Jan. 6 rioter known as "Sedition Panda," a Florida man who memorably wore the headpiece of a bear costume to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, has been convicted for his role in the riots, Law & Crime reported May 25.

Jesse James Rumson, 38, was found guilty of civil disorder and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers, trespassing, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building, and parading in a Capitol building, following a bench trial by U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, a Donald Trump appointee, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

He claimed he didn't know he was in a restricted area that day until it was too late, NBC News reported.

In court documents, prosecutors called Rumson educated and knowledgeable and said he knew what he was doing that day.

At around 4:20, federal investigators say, Rumson is seen in pictures and video approaching a line of police pushing rioters to leave Capitol grounds entirely.

Rumson then "assaulted at least one law enforcement officer, S.A., by, after running through the crowd towards the officer, reaching out, and grabbing the officer's face shield, which forced the officer's head and neck back and upwards," according to the affidavit.

Background: The attack on the Capitol Jan. 6 was the most violent mass action in Washington, D.C. since 1812, when British soldiers burned down the Capitol and other government buildings, including the president's home.

Gerald F. Seib of the Wall Street Journal reported the FBI's official website contains 17 videos of the violence at the Capitol that day, "some so gruesome they are age-restricted so young people can't see them." 

However, during a phone interview March 25, 2021 on Fox News's "Ingraham Angle," former President Trump claimed, "(The crowd that invaded the capitol) was zero threat right from the start, it was zero threat" and the rioters had "great relationships" and were "hugging and kissing the police" throughout the siege. "A lot of the people were waved in, and then they walked in and they walked out." 

Former Vice President Pence on June 3 said he saw it differently. "January 6 was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol. But thanks to the swift action of the Capitol Police and federal law enforcement, violence was quelled, the Capitol was secured. And that same day we reconvened the Congress and did our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States."

He added: "You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don't know if we'll ever see eye to eye on that day."

Trump then called Fox News Maria Bartiromo's show July 11 and described for her the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters: "There was such love at that rally, you had over a million people, they were there for one reason, the rigged election, they felt the election was rigged. That's why they were there and they were peaceful people, these were great people, the crowd was unbelievable. And I mentioned the word love, the love in the air, I've never seen anything like it." 

GOP Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde suggested the insurrection was far less serious than it's been portrayed. "Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walked through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures. You know, if you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit."

The U.S. Justice Department says that in the 38 months since the Capitol assault, "more than 1,358 individuals" have been charged with crimes related to this attack, including "more than 486" for the felony of assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

The Supreme Court appeared skeptical of how a law has been used to charge hundreds of participants in the attack on Jan. 6, 2021, in arguments on April 16, Paul Blumenthal at Huffpost reported.

The case came to the court from a challenge brought by Joseph Fischer, who was among the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Among other charges, he was accused of violating a provision in a 2002 accounting reform law that prohibits anyone who "corruptly … obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so."

But in his challenge, Fischer argued that the law was not meant to apply to situations like the Jan. 6 insurrection. If the court rules in favor of Fischer, it would likely lead to the dismissal of this charge from his case, as well as its dismissal for hundreds of other defendants — including Trump. That charge against Trump was brought by special counsel Jack Smith as part of a four-count indictment for alleged crimes committed in pursuit of overturning the 2020 election.

Some of the visiting "normal" tourists - with, as Trump says, "love in the air" - included:

  • Scott Miller, a Maryland man and former Proud Boys leader who assaulted multiple officers in a violent attempt to breach the Capitol, was handed a five-and-a-half years sentence. Miller demonstrated "aggressive" actions at the Capitol and also on his private writings that called for violence against minorities and Jews.

  • Robert Colton McAbee, a former sheriff's deputy from Tennessee who wore reinforced knuckle gloves during the Capitol riots, was sentenced to almost six years in prison for assaulting officers. He pleaded guilty to two crimes and was convicted of five other counts. He was also ordered to pay $32,165 in restitution.

  • Alan Hostetter, a former California police chief, was sentenced to 11 years in prison after bringing hatchets, knives, stun batons, pepper spray and tactical gear to D.C.  He was found on Capitol grounds with a hatchet in his backpack. Before the Capitol riot, Hostetter said Trump's political enemies should be executed.

  • Daniel Rodriguez attacked Washington, DC, police officer Michael Fanone with an electroshock weapon in the neck. He was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison. 

  • Scott Fairlamb, a New Jersey gym owner and former MMA fighter, pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer and obstructing an official proceeding.  He was sentenced to 41 months in prison.
  • Douglas Jensen, 43, of Des Moines, Iowa led a mob of rioters chasing a Capitol Police officer up several flights of stairs. A jury found him guilty of five felonies and two misdemeanors. Jensen was sentenced to five years in prison.

  • Robert Sanford of Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, a retired firefighter, was caught-on-camera slinging a steel extinguisher at officers, striking two in the head. He was sentenced to four-years and four months in prison. Sanford also hurled obscenities and insults at the law enforcement officers on the Lower West Terrace, calling them "traitors."

  • Thomas Webster, a retired New York City Police Department officer, was convicted of several felonies for attacking a D.C. cop with a flag pole and then tackling the officer to the ground and attempting to rip off his gas mask. Webster was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

  • A "pissed off" Howard Richardson of Prussia, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 46 months in prison for assaulting law enforcement officers with a Trump flag and joining a mob to use a giant Trump billboard as a battering ram. 
  • Robert S. Palmer wore an American flag jacket and watched and cheered on the rioters before moving to the front and hurling a fire extinguisher, a plank and a long pole at police officers. He was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison.
  • Kyle Toung, a Donald Trump fan who brought his teenage son along as he assaulted then-D.C. police officer Mike Fanone and another officer at the Capitol, was sentenced to more than seven years in prison.
  • Albuquerque Cosper Head, who grabbed former Metropolitan Police Department officer Mike Fanone and dragged him into the mob, where he was grievously injured, was sentenced to 7 1/2 years behind bars. 
  • Kevin Creek, a 47-year-old former Marine, was sentenced to 27 months in prison for assaulting officers. Creek admitted to striking a D.C. police office, pushing a Capitol Police officer and kicking that same officer.
  • Mark Ponder, a 56-year-old resident of Washington, D.C., attacked three police officers with poles and pleaded guilty to "assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers using a dangerous weapon." He was sentenced to more than five years in prison.
  • Guy Reffit, a Donald Trump fan from Texas who attempted to storm the U.S. Capitol while armed with a gun, was sentenced to more than seven years in prison. He was convicted on five counts, including transport of a firearm in support of civil disorder.
  • Federico Klein, a Trump-appointed State Department official, was sentenced to 70 months in prison on eight felony charges, including "assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers."

  • Steven Cappuccio was sentenced to seven years in prison for taking a police officer's baton and striking the officer in the face. 

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Trump and GOP face lawsuit claiming they violated the Ku Klux Klan Act

On Nov. 20, 2020 the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, the NAACP and three African American voters filed suit alleging Donald Trump, the Trump campaign and the Republican Party attempted to suppress the Black vote in cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, and Atlanta, all of which have large communities of color, The Independent reported. 

"Under the specter of preventing 'fraud,' defendants engaged in a conspiracy, executed through a coordinated effort, to disenfranchise voters by disrupting vote counting efforts, lodging groundless challenges during recounts, and attempting to block certification of election results through intimidation and coercion of election officials and volunteers," the lawsuit claims.

According to Democracy Docket: Even after Wayne County's results had been certified, Trump personally called election officials in the county "in a last-ditch effort to disenfranchise Black voters in Detroit."

The suit was filed the day after Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, claimed during a press conference that the president's campaign had uncovered 300,000 "illegitimate ballots" cast primarily in Detroit. (President Biden won Wayne County with 597,170 votes, while Trump received 264,553 votes.)

In December, 2020, an amended complaint added the Republican National Committee as a defendant alleging violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act. More plaintiffs also signed onto the legal action, including the NAACP. (Democrat members of Congress filed a separate suit alleging violation of the KKK Act.)

The former president and the Republican National Committee filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit on February 24, 2021. The defendants also filed a motion to transfer the case from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to the Eastern District of Michigan, where some of the plaintiffs reside. The plaintiffs opposed the transfer, arguing that the conspiracy was directed from D.C., where both Trump and the RNC were located.

On April 1, 2022 Law & Crime reported that a judge ruled Trump and the Republican Party do not have to face allegations that they violated the Voting Rights Act in the 2020 presidential election. But Trump and the GOP must face claims that they violated the Ku Klux Klan Act. Trump and the RNC also lost a separate motion to transfer the remaining litigation away from Washington, D.C.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan scoffed at Trump's notion that a federal court in Washington, D.C. lacks jurisdiction to preside over the former president's claims. "This Court is presented with an argument that is perhaps as unprecedented as it is outlandish: the former President of this country denying that he lived in and had minimum contacts with the country's capital and the White House during his time as President," Judge Sullivan wrote.

And then on Nov.28, Judge Sullivan ruled Trump's conduct was "purely political" and that he was not "absolutely immune," according to Bloomberg.

"If former President Trump disrupted the certification of the electoral vote count, as Plaintiffs allege here, such actions would not constitute executive action in defense of the Constitution," said Sullivan. "For these reasons, the Court concludes that Former President Trump is not immune from monetary damages in this suit."

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Rep. Swalwell files lawsuit alleging Trump, others responsible for Jan. 6 riot

Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California filed a lawsuit against former President Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-S.C.) on March 4, 2021 alleging they and others are "responsible for the injury and destruction" that occurred during the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (In June, it was reported the riot caused $1.5 million in damage to the building.)  Swalwell accused the four of violating both federal civil rights and local incitement laws.

From AXIOS:  The lawsuit - filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.,- accuses Trump and his allies of conspiring to violate the civil rights of the plaintiff.

  • "As a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants' false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to the Defendants' express calls for violence at the rally, a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol," the complaint alleges. "Many participants in the attack have since revealed that they were acting on what they believed to be former President Trump's orders in service of their country."
  • The defendants "by force, intimidation, or threat, agreed and conspired with one another to undertake a course of action to prevent" Joe Biden from being certified as the election winner.

At the Jan. 6 pro-Trump rally, Rep. Brooks, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest, told the crowd the United States was "at risk unlike it has been in decades, and perhaps centuries." He said that their ancestors "sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes and sometimes their lives" for the country. "Today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass," asking the crowd, "Will you fight for America?" 

Rudy Giuliani told the crowd: "Over the next 10 days, we get to see the machines that are crooked, the ballots that are fraudulent, and if we're wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we're right, a lot of them will go to jail. So, let's have trial by combat." 

CNN reported May 18 that lawyers for Giuliani responded to the lawsuit by arguing that he wasn't literally advocating for an insurrection. In a court filing, Giuliani wrote that his words were "hyperbolic." 

In a legal brief filed Aug. 16 arguing why Trump should not be held liable for inciting the violence, Trump's attorney argued: "Given the numerous protests over the years on Capitol Hill and the necessity of protecting political speech-the very type of speech the First Amendment was designed to protect -a holding that individuals can be liable for violence by random listeners if their words could be interpreted as a threat would nearly shut down Washington."

In the brief, the former president's lawyer casts Trump's efforts to subvert the 2020 election and block its legally mandated certification as merely "exercising a specific constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

Rep. Brooks asked a federal judge Aug. 3 to declare that he was immune from Rep. Swalwell's lawsuit because he was simply "cooperating" with the White House, a decision Brooks made in order to maintain a positive relationship with President Trump for the benefit of his constituents.

(Brooks - who represented himself in the matter- also noted that he has been "faithful to his wife" of 45 years, has never received a speeding ticket or smoked tobacco, and that none of his four children have been divorced.)

On Feb. 18, 2022 U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta rejected Trump's attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, the New York Post reported.  "The President's actions here do not relate to his duties of faithfully executing the laws, conducting foreign affairs, commanding the armed forces, or managing the Executive Branch," Mehta wrote in the opinion. "They entirely concern his efforts to remain in office for a second term. These are unofficial acts, so the separation-of-powers concerns that justify the President's broad immunity are not present here."

Mehta, however, dismissed the cases against Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr. and Rep. Brooks.

In his order, Judge Mehta ruled that the remarks by Brooks at the rally -- as well as the rally speeches by Giuliani and Trump Jr. -- were protected by the First Amendment. "The allegations against Brooks do not support a plausible inference that 'he was advocating . . . any action' or that 'his words were intended to produce, and likely to produce, imminent disorder,'" Mehta wrote, referencing a relevant Supreme Court precedent. 

In a court filing in Washington, D.C. on July 28 attorneys for former President Trump asked a judge to grant him total immunity against any civil lawsuits filed in conjunction with the Jan. 6th insurrection.  According to the Washington Examiner, the brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, states the former president is hoping to get the court to overturn a ruling made in February by Judge Amit Mehta rejecting Trump's demand that all Jan. 6-related lawsuits be dismissed.

The Washington Post reported Dec. 1 that an appeals court ruled Trump can be held civilly liable for the actions of the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. "The unanimous decision by a federal appeals court in Washington is expected to be appealed and also offers insight into how the court could view Trump's argument that presidential immunity also protects him from being charged criminally for his efforts to stay in power after the 2020 election."

Mediaite reported Trump had argued that as president he should be immune from any litigation, but the court instead ruled Trump's actions were taken "in his personal capacity as a presidential candidate."

CNN's Katelyn Polantz reported the ruling makes "new law around the presidency (and) will have significant implications for several cases against Trump in the Washington, DC, federal court related to the 2020 election." Polantz said this "is a major decision, a major evolution of what the law is. The other thing that this three-judge panel in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is writing is that they are saying that there are campaign actions and there are president actions, presidency actions.

"And what it is that the president does while he is campaigning for reelection, including that rally on January 6th, that can be considered a campaign action."

*

Trump faces five separate lawsuits by Capitol and D.C. police for Jan. 6 riot

On March 31, 2021 two Capitol police officers - James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby - who were injured in hand-to-hand combat during the Jan. 6 insurrection filed suit against former President Trump for inciting his supporters, Politico reported. In their lawsuit, which was joined by 11 Democratic House members, the officers allege Trump "inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed, and aided and abetted" his supporters to assault them, and that they suffered both physical injuries and emotional distress. The officers are seeking unspecified compensation and damages greater than $75,000 apiece.

Reported Politico, "It's the officer's harrowing personal accounts that add new chapters to the growing collection of horrors unleashed that day. Blassingame said he was slammed into a stone column while rioters hurled the N-word at him. Hemby said he suffered hand and knee injuries that require continued medical care. Both said they suffer from ongoing emotional trauma that has upended their lives."  

Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the Capitol Police, told PBS NewsHour's Lisa Desjardins that no one had ever called him the n-word to his face in his 39 years on Earth. "That streak ended on January 6," he said. "I was called a n****r. I was called a traitor. I was called various epithets."

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, describes in detail the melee the rioters caused during their siege on the U.S. Capitol building.  Attorneys for the officers say their case is supported by comments made after January 6 by Republican leaders House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, both of whom laid blame for the riot at the feet of the former president.

Said McConnell on the Senate floor: "There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president, and having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth." 

McCarthy said on the floor of the House: "The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding."

And then on Aug. 26, in a separate lawsuit, seven more U.S. Capitol police officers sued former President Trump, Stop the Steal rally organizers, the Trump campaign, Roger Stone and members of far-right extremist group Proud Boys, CNN reported. The suit accuses the defendants of spreading lies, using White supremacist sentiments to attempt to overthrow the 2020 election, and ultimately bearing responsibility for the riot that injured more than 140 officers. 

(Five of the plaintiffs in the suit are African-American.  Like the other police-related Jan. 6 lawsuits against Trump and others, the complaint asserts that Trump violated the KKK Act by conspiring to instigate the riots.)

"Plaintiffs and their fellow law enforcement officers risked their lives to defend the Capitol from a violent, mass attack - an attack provoked, aided, and joined by Defendants in an unlawful effort to use force, intimidation, and threats to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 Presidential election," the lawsuit claims. 

It was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit was amended to add an eighth officer and to add a pro-Trump PAC as an additional defendant. (On Jan. 26, 2023, a district court denied Trump's motion to dismiss the suit.)

And in a lawsuit filed Jan. 4, 2022 in federal court in Washington, D.C, Capitol Officer Marcus Moore, a 10-year veteran of the force, alleges physical and emotional injuries and describes the intense terror of the day as he moved from his post at the Madison Building to the East Side of the Capitol and eventually into the House chamber, helping evacuate lawmakers to safety. He's seeking a judgment against Trump and compensatory damages, saying explosions inside and outside the building left him with tinnitus. He also indicated he witnessed one rioter inside the Capitol armed with a gun.

Like James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, Moore is backed by a team of lawyers led by United to Protect Democracy, a nonprofit founded by a former Obama White House lawyer that has challenged many Trump-era policies and actions.

Politico reported that in a lawsuit also filed Jan. 4, two officers with the Metropolitan Police Department - Bobby Tabron and DeDivine Carter - described suffering physical assaults with poles, pepper spray and other projectiles, in addition to hand-to-hand violence. They are also seeking compensatory damages for their injuries.

Both responded to the West Front of the Capitol, where some of the most intense fighting of the day occurred. Carter described seeing rioters armed with guns, among other weapons. Tabron later joined officers helping evacuate lawmakers via an underground tunnel "where trains were being used to evacuate members of Congress from the Capitol."

"Officer Tabron was fighting for his life and felt certain he would not survive to make it home alive to his wife or see his family again," the lawsuit reads. "He wondered when gunfire would erupt and how such a battle, if started, would end."

And on Jan. 6, 2022 the one-year anniversary of the attack, NBC News reported Officer Briana Kirkland filed the 57-page lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. arguing that Trump incited the attack, did little to end it and conspired with far-right extremists to promote false claims about the 2020 election.

"As the leader of this violent mob, who took their cues from his campaign rhetoric and personal Tweets and traveled from around the country to the nation's capital at Trump's invitation for the January 6 rally, Trump was in a position of extraordinary influence over his followers, who committed assault and battery on Briana Kirkland," the lawsuit says.

Kirkland is seeking at least $75,000 in damages, as well as attorneys' fees.

On Feb. 18 U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta rejected Trump's attempt on grounds of presidential immunity to dismiss the lawsuit by Blassingame and Hemby, the New York Post reported. "The President's actions here do not relate to his duties of faithfully executing the laws, conducting foreign affairs, commanding the armed forces, or managing the Executive Branch," Mehta wrote in the opinion. "They entirely concern his efforts to remain in office for a second term. These are unofficial acts, so the separation-of-powers concerns that justify the President's broad immunity are not present here."

In a court filing in Washington, D.C. on July 27, attorneys for former President Trump asked a judge to grant him total immunity against any civil lawsuits filed in conjunction with the Jan. 6th insurrection.

According to the Washington Examiner, in the brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the former president is hoping to get the court to overturn a ruling made in February by Judge Mehta when Trump asked for all the lawsuits to be dismissed.

In seeking the dismissal, Trump's lawyers said that he was absolutely immune from civil litigation related to the Capitol riot, because he was acting within the "outer perimeter" of his presidential duties.

But Judge Mehta refused to dismiss the lawsuits on those grounds, noting that he had previously rejected a nearly identical assertion of absolute immunity that Trump raised in response to other civil lawsuits filed by House Democrats and two Capitol Police officers (Blassingame and Hemby).

And then on Dec. 7, the D.C. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals debated whether Trump can be held legally responsible for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Post reported. 

The federal appeals court on Dec. 20 asked the Justice Department to weigh in on whether former President Trump should be protected by absolute immunity in civil lawsuits - as Judge Mehta ruled - brought against him for his alleged role in the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack, CNN reported. 

CNN reported on Jan. 26, 2023 that U.S. District Judge Mehta denied a request by Trump - and several far-right activists who were also sued for their connection to the Capitol siege - to toss out the case brought by seven U.S. Capitol Police officers who claim Trump and others violated both federal and Washington, DC, law for conduct linked to the riot that interrupted Congress' certification of the 2020 election.

In keeping the claims against Trump alive, Mehta pointed to an opinion he wrote last year rejecting claims of immunity Trump raised to challenge similar Jan. 6 lawsuits against him.

Mehta said the seven Capitol Police officers' lawsuit could also move forward against several other individuals as well, including members of far-right militia groups such as the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and the Proud Boys.

Mehta, however, dismissed the police officers' case against far-right figures Roger Stone and Ali Alexander.

The Justice Department on March 2 said that Trump can be held liable in court for the actions of the mob that overtook the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the Washington Post and Fox News reported.

"Two officers (James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby) with the U.S. Capitol Police, joined by 11 Democratic House members, are seeking to hold Trump liable for physical and psychological injuries they suffered during the riot. Trump has argued he is protected from the lawsuit by the absolute immunity conferred on a president performing his official duties."

Attorneys with the DOJ's civil rights division wrote in the filing that a president's protected speech "does not include incitement of imminent private violence."

Former President Trump argued in a federal appeals court filing he deserves immunity from three civil lawsuits that seek to blame him for the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, Bart Jansen at USA Today reported March 23.

Trump's lawyer, Jesse Binnall, told a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals there was no "incitement" in Trump's speech near the White House Jan. 6, 2021, before a mob of supporters stormed the Capitol. Binnall argued Trump's exhortation to "fight" was a reference to political pressure.

The lawmakers and police officers also filed an argument in the case, arguing Trump was outside his official duties as a "clear and present danger" in urging supporters to block roads to Congress or forge Electoral College ballots.

Trump's lawyers urged the appeals court to dismiss the lawsuits by arguing that contentious speeches such as the one he gave Jan. 6, 2021, are part of a president's job.

A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., found former President Trump is not immune from lawsuits brought by U.S. Capitol Police officers involved in the Jan. 6 riot, the Washington Examiner reported Dec. 29. A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals found that Capitol Police veteran Conrad P. Smith can hold Trump civilly liable for the actions of the mob that rioted at the Capitol in 2021, agreeing with a panel's similar decision on Dec. 1.

"In Blassingame v. Trump ... this court held that former President Donald J. Trump had failed to demonstrate, at the motion-to-dismiss stage, that he was entitled to absolute presidential immunity from certain civil damages claims against him," according to the brief decision. "This case is indistinguishable from Blassingame in all relevant respects," the panel added.

Mediaite reported Trump, who is widely accused of fueling the violence on that day to stay in power, had argued that as president he should be immune from any litigation, but the court instead ruled Trump's actions were taken "in his personal capacity as a presidential candidate."

On Dec. 1, 2023, a three-judge ruled against Trump in a case brought by Capitol Police Officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, as well as lawmakers including Reps. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. The D.C. Court of Appeals had earlier paused the lawsuits to allow Trump time to persuade the nine justices to take up his arguments on civil immunity. But, in the end, that deadline came and went in mid-February, 2024 without a petition being filed.

According to Law & Crime, on March 8, 2024 an appellate court has given three cases the greenlight proceed, including Marcos J. Moore v. Donald Trump; Bobby Tabron et al v. Donald Trump; and Briana Kirkland v. Donald Trump. 

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More Trump "Big Lie" fallout: Smartmatic sues Fox News for $2.7 billion, Newsmax for $1.6 billion and settles with OAN

The Latest: Smartmatic alleges that Newsmax has destroyed evidence in the voting machine company's lawsuit against the right-wing news channel over false claims that Smartmatic helped "rig" the 2020 election, according to court documents made public this week, Sarah Fitzpatrick at NBC News reported May 21.

Lawyers for Florida-based Smartmatic allege that Newsmax engaged in a "cover-up" by destroying texts and emails of key executives that would demonstrate the network's knowledge that voting fraud claims being pushed by former President Donald Trump and his allies were untrue. Smartmatic says the deletions occurred after Newsmax had received notice to preserve evidence for the pending suit.

In a statement, Newsmax said it "categorically" denies the allegations.

Smartmatic is suing Newsmax for defamation in Delaware Superior Court, the same court that handled the $787.5 million Fox Dominion case, for unspecified damages. It has alleged the company promoted claims it knew to be false because it attracted viewers and was therefore profitable. Newsmax denies the allegations. The case is scheduled to go to trial in September.

The new filing refers to specific text messages in which Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy referred to Trump's attorney Sidney Powell, which Smartmatic says were deleted from Ruddy's devices but saved by other witnesses and provided to the plaintiffs during discovery. Powell was a Newsmax guest and a source of false allegations about voting fraud by Smartmatic and other companies. The filing also alleges that the company lied under oath about the existence of its own journalistic guidelines.

Background: Smartmatic, a multinational company that builds and implements electronic voting systems, filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit on Feb. 4, 2021 against Fox News, some of the network's star hosts, including Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, and Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, alleging the parties worked in concert to wage a "disinformation campaign" about the company.  Smartmatic's lawsuit claims the defendants knew that Trump's campaign lawyers, Giuliani and Powell, would lie about Smartmatic, push conspiracy theories about the election being stolen from Trump, allege Smartmatic had committed fraud and that the Fox hosts then added their "own defamatory comments" for "personal gain."

(Smartmatic's voting machines were used in only one U.S. county during the 2020 election, Los Angeles, Forbes reported.)  

The opening paragraph of the suit reads: "The Earth is round. Two plus two equals four. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the 2020 election for President and Vice President of the United States. The election was not stolen, rigged, or fixed. These are facts. They are demonstrable and irrefutable.

"With this action, Smartmatic says: Enough. Facts matter. Truth matters. Defendants engaged in a conspiracy to spread disinformation about Smartmatic. They lied. And they did so knowingly and intentionally. Smartmatic seeks to hold them accountable for those lies and for the damage that their lies have caused." 

Giuliani told Fox Business Network's Lou Dobbs on Nov. 12, 2020, "You're gonna be astonished when I tell you how (Smartmatic) was formed. It was formed, really, by three Venezuelans, who were very close to...dictator, Chavez, of Venezuela. And it was formed in order to fix elections."

Powell alleged during a Fox News appearance that software designed to effectuate the fraud could be loaded into Smartmatic machines "from Germany or Venezuela, even." She added, "We've identified mathematically the exact algorithms they used and plan to use from the beginning to modify the votes, in this case, to make sure Biden won." She also claimed China sent $400 million to Smartmatic "a few weeks before the election."

On Nov. 16, Powell told Dobbs, "I've just gotten some stunning evidence from a firsthand witness, a high-ranking military officer, who was present when Smartmatic was designed in a way that – and I'm going to just read to you some of these statements, if you don't mind, so I get them exactly right," Powell said.

"Sure," Dobbs said.

Powell continued, "From the affidavit, (Smartmatic was) 'designed in a way that the system could change the vote of each voter without being detected.'"

Powell also incorrectly claimed that Smartmatic owns Dominion.

Fox News' claims it covered the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election responsibly - what Fox lawyers termed in the "highest tradition of the First Amendment." 

"Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show," a book published Nov. 16, 2021 by ABC's Jonathan Karl, reports that the day after the election was called for Joe Biden on Nov. 7, 2020, Bartiromo interviewed conspiracy theorist and lawyer Powell on her show. Karl wrote that as Powell delivered a "fevered rant" and Bartiromo "didn't express one ounce of skepticism."

Bartiromo also baselessly accused Smartmatic of having a "backdoor" which invited infiltration into their election systems. "One source says that the key point to understand is that the Smartmatic system has a backdoor that allows it to be, or that allows the votes to be, mirrored and monitored allowing an intervening party a real-time understanding of how many votes will be needed to gain an electoral advantage." 

According to Mediaite, she claimed "software made by Smartmatic that was changing votes from Trump to Biden." She also claimed, "if you've got Democrats in charge from here on out, they're in charge of the machines, you'll never see a Republican in the White House again."

On Aug. 17, 2021 New York Supreme Court Judge David Cohen held a hearing on a dismissal request from Fox.  Judge Cohen asked Fox to explain why former anchor Lou Dobbs (Dobbs was fired soon after Smartmatic filed its suit) repeatedly claimed on air in November and December, 2020 that there was new, "groundbreaking" evidence of voter fraud even after U.S. officials had debunked such claims.

"That is clearly his opinion," Fox News attorney Paul Clement said. "It was a widely shared opinion at the time."

Fox argued that remarks by Dobbs, as well as by Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, were constitutionally protected speech. It also argued they were reporting fairly on claims being made on air by Giuliani and Powell.

From Deadline.com: Rudy Giuliani's attorney was light on evidence when pressed by Judge Cohen. Attorney Joe Sibley asked Cohen to dismiss six of the claims against his client because they constituted "product disparagement," or calling Smartmatic's software lousy, not defamation.

Judge Cohen asked Sibley about one of the Trump attorney's claims - that, in Venezuela, Smartmatic "'switched votes around subtly, maybe ten percent per district, so you don't notice it.' Is there some support in that to show that they can't even make out a claim for actual malice?" 

Sibley: "Well, the evidentiary support would be the fact that that Smartmatic technology allows this. That would be the evidence."

Cohen: "Wait, that Smartmatic technology allows it, or it occurred like Mr. Giuliani claimed?"

Sibley: "Well I don't know that there is any evidence in the record that that would demonstrate that in fact occurred."

Smartmatic sued Newsmax for $1.6 billion on Nov. 3, 2021 for defamation, demanding that the conservative cable network face a jury trial for spreading falsehoods about the company and its alleged role in rigging the 2020 election for Biden.

Fox News' effort to dismiss the defamation lawsuit was rejected on March 8, 2022. State Supreme Judge Cohen commented, "Even assuming that Fox News did not intentionally allow this false narrative to be broadcasted, there is a substantial basis for plaintiffs' claim that, at a minimum, Fox News turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about plaintiffs, unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth."

Judge Cohen did, however, toss out claims against Fox News host Jeanine Pirro and former Trump attorney Powell, but did not dismiss those against host Bartiromo and former host Dobbs. (The court ruled Pirro hadn't targeted the voting-technology firm and that it had no authority over Powell as she is a Texas resident.)  

Some claims against Giuliani - including defamation - were dismissed but Judge Cohen explained Giuliani's "barrage" of criticism, including that Smartmatic fixed elections in Venezuela and was up to its "old tricks" on election night, justified letting some of Smartmatic's other claims against him proceed.

(Blog editor's note: In its executive summary of its investigative findings released Dec. 19, 2022 the House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Riot reported that, despite his past claims of election fraud, Giuliani told the committee under oath: "I do not think the machines stole the election.")

(On April 18, 2023 Fox settled with Dominion and agreed to pay the company $787.5 million, the largest media payout in U.S. history, four times the amount ABC paid to Beef Products, Inc. several years ago. See "Trump 'Big Lie' fallout: Dominion sues Fox News for $1.6 billion, settles for $787.5 million and Tucker Carlson's hide.")

Fox News media titan Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan were deposed, the Washington Post reported Dec. 1.

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled Smartmatic could move forward with its defamation lawsuit against Fox CorporationCNN reported Jan. 24, 2024. Bloomberg reported Justice David Cohen denied Fox Corp.'s motion to dismiss the suit after finding Smartmatic had sufficiently laid out claims that executives at the parent company — including Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan Murdoch — were involved in directing the election coverage by its subsidiary. Fox News Network LLC, along with several of its current and former on-air personalities, are also named in the suit and previously lost their attempts to dismiss the case.

Smartmatic settled its defamation lawsuit against OANN for an undisclosed sum, bringing an end to the first of several legal fights between the voting tech company and several media outlets and personalities that promoted former President Trump's false claims about the 2020 election, Forbes and other media reported April 16.

One America News Network then got in trouble when it falsely accused Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, of having an affair with Stormy Daniels, who claims she had the one-night affair with Trump. The far-right news outlet was forced on April 29, 2024 to retract the baseless story.

*

Truth Social, Trump's go-to platform, completes successful merger, lawsuits fly

The Latest:  Trump Media and Technology Group, the company affiliated with former U.S. president Donald Trump that operates Truth Social, reported $770,500 in revenue for the first quarter of 2024 and a net loss of $327.6 million, Variety reported May 20.

Shares in Sarasota, Fla.-based TMTG began trading March 26, 2024, on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "DJT." With May 20th's closing price of $48.38/share, TMTG has a market capitalization of about $6.6 billion.

Trump owns about 64.9% of the outstanding shares in Trump Media & Technology Group, making his stake worth about $5.5 billion currently (though he is restricted from selling TMTG shares for the six-month period after the company's stock started trading publicly). His holdings of 114.75 million shares include 36 million in "earnout shares" officially determined by TMTG on April 26 in accordance with the DWAC merger agreement.

As of March 31, TMTG said, its balance of cash and cash equivalents was $273.7 million. The company "believes it has sufficient working capital to fund operations for the foreseeable future," it said in announcing the Q1 results.

And despite Trump getting richer because of Truth Social, the social media site continues to lose visitors, according to a report May 3 from CNN.

New data shows its main product — the conservative-friendly social network Truth Social — remains a very tiny player in its industry, and it's getting even smaller. Truth Social's average number of daily active US users on iOS and Android dropped by 19% year over year in April to about 113,000, according to data shared exclusively with CNN from Similarweb, a data intelligence company."

The average number of daily unique US visitors to Truth Social's website fell 12% year over year and 21% on a monthly basis, according to Similarweb.

When Truth Social's web and app audiences in the US are combined, they represent less than 1% of X's total audience.

Background: Former President Trump's media company, Trump Media & Technology Group, is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators, according to a report filed with the SEC in December, 2021.

Business Insider reported Dec. 6 that according to Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC), the company that plans to merge with Trump's new media venture, the SEC has requested documents about meetings of DWAC's board of directors, "policies and procedures relating to trading," identification of certain investors, and copies of communication between the partner company and Trump's new media company.

Digital World said it also received requests from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in late October, 2021 and early November for information regarding events that took place before the public announcement in October of its planned merger with the Trump Media & Technology Group.

The investigation comes after Trump's digital media company and Digital World, a special purpose acquisition company (or SPAC), announced they had raised $1 billion in capital. None of the investors were identified, which is highly unusual for this sort of transaction, AXIOS reported. The deal is expected to provide proceeds of approximately $1.25 billion, assuming full delivery of the amount of cash held in trust by DWAC.

According to CNBC, the price of DWAC on Oct. 1, 2021, the first day the stock was publicly traded, was $10.

The Hill reported that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) penned a letter to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler requesting that the agency open an investigation into the deal between Digital World and Trump Media & Technology Group.

Warren suggested that the deal had violated the Securities Act of 1933 because Patrick Orlando, the sponsor of Digital World, allegedly had conversations about an agreement with Trump as early as March 2021, well before the SPAC made its first filing in May and launched its initial public offering (IPO) in September.

According to Sen. Warren, under the 1933 statute, SPACs must disclose any form of direct or indirect contact with potential target companies to protect investors who get involved at the time of the IPO. The talks between Trump and Orlando were not disclosed in SEC regulatory filings, according to public records and news reports.

(The Washington Post defined a special purpose acquisition company (or SPAC) as a shell company that is set up to take a private company public by merging with it. They are called "blank check" companies because public investors can purchase shares without knowing what the shell firm will eventually buy. For investors, the hope is that stock price will shoot up when an acquisition target is announced. In October, 2022, it was reported that Trump and Orlando began talks to create Trump Media and merge it with a SPAC as early as Spring, 2021.)

Truth Social was launched with much hype and fanfare on Feb. 21, 2022 with former GOP Congressman Devin Nunes, a rancher from California's central valley with no tech development experience, as its CEO.

And Trump finally joined Truth Social on April 28, posting on the social media platform for the first time.

Federal securities regulators expanded their investigation into possible securities violations related to the planned merger, according to a June 13 filing with the SEC. Axios reported, "Why it matters: Truth Social's financial prospects are heavily reliant on investment tied to the merger, which may never come to pass."

And then Trump's media company was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in Manhattan in connection with a criminal probe into its planned merger with Digital World, CNBC reported. (The Trump company also received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding a civil probe on June 27, DWAC said.)

Big investors are starting to eye the exits on the $1.3 billion bid to take Trump's social media startup public, Politico reported Oct. 3.

The hedge funds, trading firms and other major backers are questioning whether the financial riches that first attracted them to the transaction are still strong enough to hold their interest in a deal fraught with troubles, according to four investors who asked not to be named. Already, investors who had promised $138 million in capital have pulled out.

The Stock Dork reported Oct. 12: "Now, the SPAC company, Digital World Acquisition Group (DWAC), seems to be struggling financially as the SPAC deal is in limbo. The company now lists its address as 3109 Grand Avenue in Miami, Florida. A search of the address verifies this as a UPS store in Coconut Grove, Miami."

CNBC reported Nov. 22 that DWAC said shareholders voted to delay a deadline for its merger with the former president's firm until September 2023. In a securities filing Nov. 21, DWAC said there was "substantial doubt" about its ability to continue as a "going concern."

As of January, 2023, Trump has 4.9 million followers on Truth Social, a fraction of the 88 million he has on Twitter.

On March 17, The Guardian reported federal prosecutors in New York investigating Trump's social media company "examined" whether it violated money laundering laws by accessing $8 million in loans with suspected Russia ties.

Guardian reporter Hugo Lowell explained on MSNBC that prosecutors "got a tip" at the end of last year over the loans that came at a time when Trump's company was "cash poor."

"They went and got bridge financing from first a bank, then in February 2022 they got a second loan of $6 million from two different companies," Lowell said. "As it turned out, they're pretty much one and the same company, and if you trace the beneficiaries back you get to the nephew of a Putin ally who was the first deputy justice minister in Russia and previously served in Putin's executive office."

Dan Alexander at Forbes reported April 4, "Truth Social is adding an estimated 100,000 users per month. If people continue to join at the current pace—and assuming that no one quits or dies—Truth Social will not hit its projected 81 million users until 2086. By that point, Trump would be 140 years old. A more likely outcome: Truth Social will join Trump Steaks, Trump University and GoTrump.com in the graveyard of failed Trump ventures."

Executives for the SPAC tied to struggling Truth Social are facing a September deadline to get SEC approval for their pending merger or they will be forced to return millions to investors. According to an April 2 report from the New York Times, two different investigations are tying up the merger between Digital World Acquisition Corp. and Trump Media & Technology Group with $300 million at stake.

As the Times reports, "That deal has been waylaid by two intensifying federal investigations. One is focused on whether preliminary merger discussions between Digital World and Trump Media violated federal securities laws. The other investigation is looking at whether a group of early investors in Digital World — who were brought into the deal by Patrick Orlando — engaged in improper trading."

Shareholders in Digital World Acquisition, the investment partner of former president Trump's media start-up, voted to approve an extension of the company's merger deadline and give it more time to complete the deal," the Washington Post reported Sept 5. "The extension will give the special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, another year to finalize its long-stalled merger with the parent company of the pro-Trump social network Truth Social." Digital World and Trump Media were originally scheduled to merge in 2022.

Trump dropped off The Forbes 400 list of richest Americans for the second time in three years, Forbes Magazine reported Oct. 3. Forbes said the former president's net worth is down more than $600 million from a year ago, citing Trump's social media platform, Truth Social, as the primary reason. According to the magazine, Trump's 90 percent stake in Truth Social's parent company has dropped in value from around $730 million to less than $100 million.

Forbes reported that the company planning to merge with Trump Media & Technology Group, owner of the Truth Social platform, has now walked away from two years of financial statements after informing the Securities and Exchange Commission Oct. 16 that its audited financials for 2021 "should no longer be relied upon."

In May, Digital World Acquisition Corp issued a similar notice to the SEC regarding its financial statements for the year ending Dec. 31, 2022.

Digital World Acquisition Corp also reported it would return to investors $533 million raised for the merger deal, after some have already backtracked on $467 million of commitments, Reuters reported Oct. 12.

The development means the end of the so-called private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction that would have delivered Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), the operator of Trump's Truth Social platform, $1 billion as part of its merger with Digital World.

Truth Social has lost $73 million in net sales since the platform's official launch in February 2022, according to a new financial disclosure filing from Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC), The Hill and several other media outlets reported Nov. 13.

Truth Social lost $50 million on just $1.4 million of net sales in 2022 and another $23 million within the first six months of this year, according to the filing, which was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

Shareholders in Digital World Acquisition Corporation voted to approve a merger with Donald Trump's social media company, a deal that could net the former president an eventual windfall of $3 billion or more, CNBC reported March 22.

CNN reported Trump Media & Technology Group filed a lawsuit on March 24 in Florida state court against Andy Litinsky and Wes Moss, two co-founders of Trump Media and two former cast members of Trump's realty TV show The Apprentice. That lawsuit alleges they made a series of "reckless and wasteful decisions" when they tried to set up the company that caused significant damage. Trump seeks to strip them of their shares in Trump Media. CNBC reports that Patrick Orlando is also named as a defendant in that suit for alleged breach of fiduciary duty. 

Dan Mangan at CNBC reported that besides Trump the biggest shareholders in Trump Media are two corporate entities. ARC Global Investments II LLC held nearly 9.55 million shares, or a 6.9% stake, as of April 1 and is run by Patrick Orlando.  Orlando is the former CEO and chairman of the board of DWAC.  United Atlantic Ventures, which is owned by Litinsky and Moss, reported owning 7.525 million shares, representing a 5.5% stake in the business. 

Litinsky and Moss had previously filed their own lawsuit in Delaware against Trump, arguing the former president was planning to dilute their stake in the new company.  

NBC News reported that an auditor has raised doubts about the ability of Trump's publicly traded company to stay in business. The independent accounting firm, Colorado-based BF Borgers CPA PC, warned that Trump Media's "operating losses raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern." The note is dated March 25.

TMTG, which trades on the Nasdaq under the symbol "DJT," reported it brought in $4.1 million in revenue in 2023 but had an operating loss of more than $58 million. (The media company made $50.5 million in 2022.)

The former president's company went public March 26 through a merger with the use of a special purpose acquisition company, Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC).

Retail buyers fueled the stock's surge to a market value of around $8 billion or $80 a share.

CNBC reported that one of the challenges the company faces is that is has 494,000 active users while X has 75 million.

Trump, the presumptive 2024 GOP presidential nominee, holds 78.7 million shares in TMTG. There is a six-month lock-up on Trump's shares, which the board could vote to waive.

*

Investigations


House Select Committee completes investigation of Jan. 6 riot, forwards criminal referrals to DOJ, plus, 68 Days That Will Live in Infamy - Oct. 31, 2020 thru Jan. 6, 2021

On July 1, 2021 the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), appointed members to the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack to examine and report on the facts and causes relating to "the terrorist mob attack on the United States Capitol."

Pelosi appointed seven Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who was the lead manager in Trump's first impeachment trial and Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, who served as lead manager for Trump's second impeachment. Also serving on the committee were Trump-critics Rep. Liz Cheney (R- Wyoming) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois). The chair was Mississippi Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson. Rep. Cheney was vice-chair.

Speaker Pelosi blocked GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy's nominees, Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, because they both actively spread misinformation about the 2020 election. But she accepted GOP Reps. Troy Nehls, Rodney Davis, and Kelly Armstrong. McCarthy, however, rescinded their nominations to protest the Speaker's decision to bar Jordan and Banks.  (Fast forward: On June 19, 2022, following several nationally-televised committee hearings, former President Trump criticized McCarthy's decision. "Unfortunately, a bad decision was made. This Committee - it was a bad decision not to have representation on this Committee. That was a very, very foolish decision.")

The committee held its first hearing July 27, 2021. Fox News reported the four witnesses at the hearing were Private First Class Harry Dunn and Sergeant Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police, and Officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of the Metropolitan Police Department. They provided detailed and emotional testimony about the attack.

"To be honest, I did not recognize my fellow citizens who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 or the United States they claimed to represent," Gonell, an immigrant and Army veteran, said. "The rioters called me traitor, a disgrace, and shouted that I, I, an Army veteran and police officer, should be executed. I heard specific threats to the lives of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and also Vice President Mike Pence," Gonell added, saying that the officers "fought hand to hand, inch by inch, to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a mob intent on subverting our democratic process." Gonell said that the attackers were shouting, "Trump sent us. Pick the right side."

On Jan. 19, 2022 the Supreme Court rejected Trump's effort to stop the National Archives from giving the House Jan. 6 committee hundreds of pages of documents from his time in the White House.  

On June 13, Chair Rep. Thompson (D-MS) opened the second public hearing: "This morning we will tell the story of how Donald Trump lost an election. And knew he lost an election. And as the result of his loss, decided to wage an attack on our democracy." As Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) stated, "The election fraud claims were false. Mr. Trump's closest advisors knew it. Mr. Trump knew it."

In riveting and damning testimony, former Attorney General Barr told committee investigators it was "demoralizing" that Trump wasn't listening: "If he really believes this stuff, he's become detached from reality, if he really believes this stuff. There was never any interest in what the actual facts were."

According to witness testimony at the committee's June 16 hearing, Vice President Pence himself and the lawyer who concocted the scheme to have Pence overturn the 2020 presidential election, John Eastman, both advised President Trump that the scheme was unconstitutional and violated federal law.  Eastman later plead the Fifth more than 100 times in his deposition before the Jan. 6 Committee.

Judge Michael Luttig, a nationally prominent conservative justice, told the committee that Trump, as well as his allies and supporters, "are a clear and present danger to American democracy."

"That's not because of what happened on January 6 -- it's because to this very day, the former president, his allies and supporters pledge that in the presidential election of 2024, if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican Party presidential candidate were to lose that election, that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election."

Rusty Bowers, the Republican leader of the Arizona state legislature, told the committee at its June 21 hearing that President Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, called him shortly after the election and claimed that hundreds of thousands of illegals voted in Arizona as well as thousands of dead people. Bowers asked for the evidence. Trump told Giuliani to give Bowers the evidence. Giuliani promised to deliver it. 

Bowers told President Trump, "I voted for you. I worked for you. I campaigned for you. I just won't do anything illegal for you." And, according to Bowers, Giuliani never did provide any evidence and at a subsequent meeting in Phoenix, Giuliani admitted to Bowers that "We've got a lot of theories, we just don't have the evidence."

Shaye Moss, a Georgia election worker, was a target of a conspiracy theory spread by former President Trump and his allies, including Giuliani. She told the committee the lies by Trump of harvesting fraudulent votes "turned my life upside down."

Moss fought back tears as she told how the harassment campaign against her upended her life in the weeks after the 2020 election.

"I no longer give out my business card. I don't transfer calls. I don't want anyone knowing my name," Moss testified. "I don't go anywhere with my mom. I don't go to the grocery store at all. I haven't been anywhere at all. I've gained about 60 pounds."

(On Jan. 6, 2023, the 2nd anniversary of the Capitol riot, President Biden gave Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, another Georgia election worker, the Presidential Citizens Medal for their contributions toward preserving democracy in America.)

At the committee's hearing on June 23, 2022 it was announced that at least six Republican members of Congress sought pardons in the final days of Trump's presidency. They included Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Louis Gohmert (R-TX) and Scott Perry (R-PA). Committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) summarized: "The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you have committed a crime."

On June 28, the Select Committee heard from Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. She testified that when she asked Meadows about plans for Jan. 6, "He didn't look up from his phone and said something to the effect of, 'There's a lot going on Cass, but I don't know, things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6.'"

Hutchinson also testified that former President Trump knew many of his supporters in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 were armed and demanded that they be let into a secure area at his rally. "He thought the mags (metal detectors) were at fault for not letting everybody in. But another leading reason, likely the primary reason, is because he wanted it full and he was angry that we weren't letting people through the mags with weapons -- what the Secret Service deems as weapons." Hutchinson said, "I overheard the President say something to the effect of 'I don't F-ing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags away. Let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in, take the f-ing mags away." 

She also testified Trump left after his rally speech on Jan. 6 expecting he would be taken to the Capitol. According to Hutchinson, former Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Tony Ornato recounted Trump screaming, "I'm the f---ing President. Take me up to the Capitol now." Trump then "reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel." She added that, according to Ornato, Trump used his other hand to "lunge" at Secret Service Agent Robert Engel.  (Ornato was interviewed virtually Nov. 29 for roughly five to six hours. He told lawmakers and committee staff that he did not recall that conversation with Hutchinson.)

Hutchinson also testified that Meadows and Rudy Giuliani each sought pardons related to their actions on Jan. 6. And attorney John Eastman asked Giuliani about a potential pardon in an email. "I've decided that I should be on the pardon list if that is still in the works."  

The Select Committee on July 12 presented evidence that former President Trump knew that he legitimately lost the 2020 election to Biden, Raw Story reported.

Testimony from former Trump administration officials revealed that White House lawyers, known as "team normal," worked for hours on Dec. 18, 2020 to systematically debunk conspiracy theories about the election in an hours-long meeting with the president and his outside advisors, including Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

On July 21, the committee held a hearing focusing on "then-President Trump's refusal for more than three hours to call off the mob attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6," the Los Angeles Times reported. The committee attempted to show that Trump's inaction constituted a dereliction of duty.

"The mob was accomplishing President Trump's purpose, so of course he didn't intervene," Rep. Kinzinger stated.  "President Trump did not fail to act during the 187 minutes between leaving the Ellipse and telling the mob to go home. He chose not to act."

Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, told the committee on Sept. 29 the election was stolen from former President Trump. However, Thomas, a lawyer, provided no evidence to support her claim.

The committee voted Oct. 13 to subpoena Trump. The subpoena required him to turn over documents by Nov. 4 and to appear for a deposition Nov. 14.  Trump ignored the committee's subpoena.

The House select committee released its highly anticipated final report Dec. 22, 2022 presenting a full account of its findings on former President Trump's efforts to maintain power, USA Today reported. The committee's report concluded:

  • Trump was the "central cause" of the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol. "None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him."
  • The committee recommended that the Department of Justice investigate the ex-president for inciting an insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to make a false statement and obstruction of an official proceeding. 
  • The committee said it was "particularly troubling" that certain witnesses took the Fifth, including Gen. Michael Flynn, who refused to comment on such basic questions as whether he believed the violence on Jan. 6 was justified and whether he believed "in the peaceful transition of power" in the U.S. 
  • GOP Rep. Cheney, vice chair of the committee, described "the most shameful findings" from the hearings: "President Trump sat in the dining room off the Oval Office watching the violent riot at the Capitol on television."

  • The committee concluded Trump was also "directly and personally involved" in the effort to delay the counting of Electoral College votes during the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress, and acted with a "corrupt" purpose.

  • The committee also recommended the House Ethics Committee investigate four Republican lawmakers - including Kevin McCarthy, the future House speaker - for defying the committee's subpoenas.

  • The panel concluded there could be enough evidence to bring criminal charges against other Trump allies, like attorneys John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, Jeffrey Clark and Kenneth Chesebro.

68 Days That Will Live in Infamy - Oct. 31, 2020 through Jan. 6, 2021

Timeline of first-ever presidential coup attempt in U.S. history

  • President Trump to the nation: "We want all voting to stop."
  • President Trump to the Acting Attorney General: "One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren't going to do anything to overturn the election."  
  • Former President Trump on Mike Pence: "He could have overturned the Election!"

Oct. 31, 2020

Three days before the election, President Trump discusses with Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, a draft speech that declares victory and claims voter fraud. 

Nov. 3 

Election day.

Nov. 4

The day after the election, with Democrat Joe Biden leading the vote count, President Trump in the White House press room declared, "This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.

"So, we'll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop."

Nevada GOP chairman Michael McDonald joined a conference call with Trump, his son Eric, White House Chief-of-staff Mark Meadows and longtime Trump ally/attorney Rudy Giuliani. "They want full attack mode," McDonald later wrote of the call in a text message. "We're gonna have a war room meeting in about an hour." (On Dec. 14 McDonald would join other Trump supporters in Nevada and sign a fake elector document.)

Nov. 5

Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, texts White House Chief of Staff Meadows, "Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators (elected officials, bureaucrats, social media censorship mongers, fake stream media reporters, etc) are being arrested & detained for ballot fraud right now & over coming days, & will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition."  

Donald Trump Jr., the oldest son of the president, texts Meadows outlining a strategy that is nearly identical to what allies of the President will attempt to carry out in the months ahead.  In his texts, Trump Jr. makes specific reference to filing lawsuits and advocating recounts to prevent certain swing states from certifying their results, as well as having a handful of Republican state houses put forward slates of fake "Trump electors." 

(Fast-forward: In late November, 2023, Liz Cheney reveals in her book that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told her two days after Election Day that he had talked to Trump and that Trump acknowledged he had lost the 2020 election. "He knows it's over," McCarthy said. "He needs to go through all the stages of grief.")

Nov. 6

With Biden still ahead in the vote count, President Trump begins to realize he is on the brink of losing reelection. His lawyers explain to him that being angry about the results is not a reason to file lawsuits.

"Well, why don't we just get up to the Supreme Court directly?" he asks. "Like, why can't we just go there right away?"

Nov. 7

Former Vice President Biden is declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election by various media outlets. 

White House Chief of Staff Meadows sends email discussing the appointment of alternate slates of electors. Utah Senator Mike Lee texts Meadows: "Sydney (sic) Powell is saying that she needs to get in to see the president, but she's being kept away from him. Apparently she has a strategy to keep things alive and put several states back in play. Can you help her get in?" (On Nov. 9, Sen. Lee texts Meadows that he found Powell to be a "straight shooter.")

Trump campaign attorney Giuliani holds a press conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Northeast Philadelphia.  (President Trump had earlier announced the press conference would occur at the famous Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia.) Giuliani, standing outside the landscaping business, a couple buildings down from the Fantasy Island Book Store, makes unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud. The black dye in his hair famously starts to drip down the side of his face, a photograph of which goes around the world. The adult bookstore owner complains to the media they are taking up all his customer parking.

Nov. 9

Virginia Thomas - again, the wife of a member of the U.S. Supreme Court - sends an email to 29 Arizona state legislators. "Article II of the United States Constitution gives you an awesome responsibility: to choose our state's Electors... [P]lease take action to ensure that a clean slate of Electors is chosen."  (Thomas's name also appears on an email to a group of Arizona representatives on Dec. 13, the day before members of the electoral college met to cast their votes and seal Biden's Arizona victory. She writes, "Before you choose your state's Electors ... consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you don't stand up and lead.") 

Thomas also sends similar emails to legislators in a second battleground state that Biden won, Wisconsin. "Please reflect on the awesome authority granted to you by our Constitution. And then please take action to ensure that a clean slate of Electors is chosen for our state."

Nov. 10

Thomas texts Mark Meadows, "Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!...You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America's constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History." (Thomas would admit later to the Jan. 6 House Select Committee that she had no evidence to support her repeated claims of voter fraud.)

Nov. 14

In a tweet, Trump hailed Sidney Powell as part of his "truly great team" of lawyers.

Nov. 17

President Trump fires Chris Krebs, the director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), via Twitter after Krebs refutes claims - including those by President Trump - that the 2020 election was subject to widespread voter fraud and hacking. Krebs earlier in the day had tweeted, "59 election security experts all agree, 'in every case of which we are aware, these claims (of fraud) either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent.'"

Trump, with Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel present, calls two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers and tells them not to sign the certification of the 2020 presidential election, telling them they'd look "terrible" if they signed the documents. Said Trump, "We've got to fight for our country. We can't let these people take our country away from us." McDaniel and Trump offered to help get the two GOP officials' legal representation.

Sometime in November

President Trump, campaign lawyers and outside attorneys - including Giuliani and Sidney Powell - hold a meeting to discuss legal issues associated with challenging the election.

(Fast-forward: Vice President Mike Pence reported in October, 2022, that while the campaign lawyers reportedly gave President Trump a negative report concerning election challenges, Giuliani contested their claims. "Your lawyers are not telling you the truth, Mr. President," Giuliani said to Trump over a speaker phone.

("In the end, that (was the) day the president made the fateful decision to put Giuliani and Sidney Powell in charge of the legal strategy," Vice President Pence reported. "The seeds were being sown for a tragic day in January," referring to Jan. 6, 2021.)

Nov. 18

Attorney Kenneth Chesebro, a legal advisor to the Trump campaign, begins drafting memos on the fake elector scheme.  (Other Chesebro memos and emails on the illegal scheme are dated Dec. 6 and 31 below.) 

Chesebro was advising Wisconsin-based Trump attorney Jim Troupis about a legal strategy for challenging the results in court. He stressed that in order to sustain legal challenges to Wisconsin's results, a slate of pro-Trump electors must convene on Dec. 14, 2020 and cast ballots as though they were legitimately elected.

Chesebro noted that if courts ruled in Trump's favor, Congress may only be able to count electoral votes cast by the legally prescribed deadline of Dec. 14. 

Nov. 19

Trump attorneys Giuliani and Powell - described as "Trump's elite strike force" - hold a press conference at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. laying out unproven charges of election fraud, including allegations that Dominion Voting Systems had worked with George Soros and Venezuela, the Clinton Foundation and Antifa to steal the election from Trump. Powell claimed there was a "massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba, and likely China in the interference with our elections here in the United States." 

By this same day, however, other Trump campaign lawyers had already prepared an internal memo debunking many of the claims made by Giuliani and Powell about Dominion Voting Systems and another voting machine company, Smartmatic.  But the campaign sits on its findings as Trump supporters attack the companies in the conservative media and file unsuccessful lawsuits.  

(Fast-forward: In 2023, Fox News will pay Dominion $787.5 million for pushing Giuliani and Powell's false allegations about the company.)

Mid to late November

Trump suggests, in an Oval Office meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr, that the Justice Department seize voting machines in certain states won by Biden. Barr rejects the idea, telling the president there is no basis for seizing the machines because there is no probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.

Around the same time, Trump also tries to persuade state lawmakers in contested states like Michigan and Pennsylvania to use local law enforcement agencies to take control of voting machines. State lawmakers refuse to go along with the plan.

Nov. 23

Attorney General Barr grows so frustrated with Trump's election conspiracy theories that he confronts the president and tells him his claims are "bullshit." Burr tells Trump: "I understand you're upset with me. And I'm perfectly happy to tender my resignation." Trump slaps his desk and says: "Accepted. Accepted. Go home. Don't go back to your office. Go home. You're done."

Dec. 1

Barr, who is still Attorney General, goes public and tells the Associated Press that, despite the numerous lawsuits Trump supporters had filed contesting the election results, "To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election."

Barr also calls Trump's legal team "clownish."  "I'm a pretty informed legal observer and I can't fucking figure out what the theory is here. It's just scattershot. It's all over the hill and gone."

President Trump goes down to the White House dining room and throws a plate of food against the wall.  Staff later testified they were forced to clean ketchup off the walls.

Early December

At a White House meeting, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and other White House attorneys tell Chief of Staff Meadows, Giuliani and a group of Republican House members that the scheme to have states send Trump slates of electors to Congress in states that Trump lost "was not legally sound" and "did not comply with the law."

Dec. 4

Attorney and U.S. Constitution "expert" John Eastman urges Republican legislators in Pennsylvania to retabulate the state's popular vote - and throw out tens of thousands of absentee ballots - in order to show Trump - not Biden - with a lead.

Dec. 5

After President Trump's aides fail to get Georgia officials to overturn their election, Trump calls Republican governor Brian Kemp.  Trump told a rally in September, 2021, "I said, 'Let me handle it. This is easy.' I got this guy elected.... I was going to show [his aides] how good I am. 'Let me handle it. I'll call them up.' I said, 'Brian, listen, you know you have a big election integrity problem in Georgia. I hope you can help us out and call a special election.'"  

Trump also urged Kemp to use his "emergency powers" to block the certification of the results and name a slate of Republican electors to award him the state's 16 electoral votes. Kemp, a former election official, tells Trump he didn't have such powers.

Meanwhile, a steadily changing cast of Trump campaign lawyers file 66 federal and state lawsuits challenging the election results. All but one are rejected. (The one that succeeded, in Pennsylvania, involved a small number of ballots with technical errors.)

Dec. 6

Kenneth Chesebro drafts a memo describing a plot to use false slates of electors to subvert the election. Chesebro acknowledges that he was proposing "a bold, controversial strategy" that the Supreme Court "likely" would reject in the end.

But even if the plan did not ultimately pass legal muster at the highest level, Chesebro argued, it would achieve two goals. It would focus attention on claims of voter fraud and "buy the Trump campaign more time to win litigation that would deprive Biden of electoral votes and/or add to Trump's column."

Dec. 8

Trump calls Georgia's Republican attorney general, Chris Carr, warning him not to interfere with a Texas lawsuit that seeks to overturn election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all states won by Biden. The Texas lawsuit argues that Biden's victories in the four states should be thrown out over Republican allegations of widespread voter fraud. The suit argues Republican-led legislatures in all four states should be allowed to select a pro-Trump slate of electors and hand Trump the 2020 election.

Utah Republican Senator Lee, who on Nov. 7 urged President Trump to "exhaust every legal and constitutional remedy at your disposal to restore Americans faith in our elections," sends a text to Meadows suggesting a strategy for reversing Trump's defeat. "If a very small handful of states were to have their legislatures appoint alternative slates of delegates, there could be a path." Meadows replies, "I am working on that as of yesterday."

Dec. 9

Trump hypes the Texas case in the run-up to the Supreme Court's ruling. "We will be INTERVENING in the Texas (plus many other states) case. This is the big one. Our Country needs a victory!" he tweets.

Dec. 10

Georgia Attorney General Carr files a response to the Texas lawsuit with the Supreme Court, urging the justices to reject the Trump-backed lawsuit. 

Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson - a relatively unknown GOP House member at the time - sends an email to his GOP colleagues asking support for the Texas lawsuit. The email's subject line read: "Time-sensitive request from President Trump."

"President Trump called me this morning to express his great appreciation for our effort to file an amicus brief in the Texas case on behalf of concerned Members of Congress. He specifically asked me to contact all Republican Members of the House and Senate today and request that all join on to our brief. He said he will be anxiously awaiting the final list to review."

The amicus brief, which garnered 126 signatures, including that of GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, was the first signal that more than half of the Republican conference was prepared to toss out the votes of millions of Americans. (Blog editor's note:  Johnson would replace McCarthy as Speaker of the House in October, 2023.)

Chesebro emails David Shafer, chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, saying the Trump campaign asked him to "help coordinate" logistics of a scheme to send a slate of fake Electoral College electors to Washington, D.C.  Chesebro attaches documents for casting electoral votes.

Dec. 11

All nine justices of the Supreme Court - including the three Trump-appointed justices - reject hearing the Texas lawsuit on the grounds the state lacks the standing to overthrow elections in other states. "Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections." 

(Fast-forwardFormer White House chief of staff Meadows wrote in his November, 2021 memoir, "The Chief's Chief," that he had never seen Trump look as "despondent" as he did when the Supreme Court rejected Texas' bid to overturn the 2020 election result.

(White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified in 2022 that she witnessed a conversation soon after the Supreme Court decision in which Trump told Meadows something to the effect of: "I don't want people to know we lost, Mark. This is embarrassing. Figure it out. We need to figure it out.")

Dec. 12

Attorney Chesebro meets with Brian Schimming, chair of the Wisconsin GOP, about the upcoming Dec. 14 meeting of fake electors.

A few days before Dec. 14

President Trump works with allies to prepare a series of false Trump electoral slates from states Biden won. President Trump personally conducts a teleconference with attorney John Eastman and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and solicits the RNC's assistance with the scheme, specifically directing her to arrange for the fake electors to meet and rehearse the process of casting their fake votes.  McDaniel agrees to provide that assistance and calls back later to tell the president RNC staff are working on it.  (Trump subsequently has several phone calls with McDaniel on the topic.)

Dec. 13

In an email to Giuliani, Chesebro outlines multiple strategies for disrupting and delaying the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. Chesebro says the strategies were "preferable to allowing the Electoral Count Act to operate by its own terms."

Chesebro also sends an email to Mike Roman, a Trump campaign aide, with attached documents for Trump electors to use in Georgia and other states. And in another email, Chesebro tells Roman that Giuliani "wants to keep this quiet until after all the voting is done." 

Dec. 14

The Electoral College - electors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia - cast their ballots and forward their "Certificates of Ascertainment" to the vice president and the National Archives, officially declaring Biden the 46th president of the United States. 

President Trump announces Attorney General Barr's resignation.

Trump campaign officials, led by Giuliani, the Republican National Committee and Republican state parties organize meetings of Trump supporters in seven states Trump lost to draft language for fake Electoral College certificates. The gatherings take place in Arizona, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin.

The unauthorized electors declare themselves "duly elected and qualified" and send the phony documents to Washington in hopes that on Jan. 6 when Congress convenes to certify the election the fake certificates will be recognized as official by Vice President Pence, who will chair the proceedings.

In Arizona, for example, they called it "The Signing." Eleven fake electors for President Trump convened at the state Republican Party headquarters in Phoenix to sign the documents, allegedly provided by a Trump campaign attorney, claiming that they were the legitimate representatives of the state's electoral votes.

Dec. 15

President Trump summons acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to the Oval Office and demands the DOJ file legal briefs supporting lawsuits challenging election results in key battleground states and that Rosen appoint special counsels to investigate Dominion Voting Systems, who Trump's lawyers claim - without evidence - switched Trump votes to Biden. Rosen declines, citing former Attorney General Barr's announcement on Dec. 1 that there was no wide-spread election fraud.

Trump personally calls election officials in Wayne County, Michigan in a last-ditch effort to overturn the election in that state.

Dec. 16

An executive order is drafted by outside legal advisor Powell and Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn empowering the defense secretary to "seize, collect, retain and analyze all machines, equipment, electronically stored information, and material records required for retention under" a U.S. law that relates to preservation of election records. Without evidence, the draft cites conspiracy theories about election fraud in Georgia and Michigan, as well as debunked notions about Dominion and Smartmatic voting machines switching Trump votes to Biden.

The draft order would give the defense secretary 60 days to write an assessment of the 2020 election, suggesting it was a gambit to keep Trump in power until at least mid-February, 2021.

Dec. 18

Former U.S. Army General Fynn, who lasted less than a month as President Trump's first national security advisor, and Powell, who had, by this time, filed unsuccessful lawsuits claiming China, Venezuela, Iran and George Soros worked to turn a Trump victory into defeat, attend an Oval Office meeting with President Trump. 

The day before Flynn had told Newsmax the president could deploy military troops and declare martial law in order to rerun the election in certain states.  ''He could immediately on his order seize every single one of these machines around the country. He could also order, within the swing states, if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities and he could place them in those states and basically rerun an election in each of those states. It's not unprecedented.'' 

Flynn and Powell present the President with a draft executive order authorizing the military to seize voting machines throughout the country and appoint Powell as "a special counsel overseeing election integrity."  The President reads the draft and verbally agrees to appoint Powell special counsel.  

At one point in the meeting, it is also suggested that the president appoint Flynn as "field marshal" to coordinate Powell's efforts.

White House lawyers Pat Cipollone and Eric Herschmann learn of the meeting, enter the Oval Office and begin working to systematically debunk Trump, Powell and Flynn's conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.

Cipollone tells the group there was no evidence of widespread election fraud, asking "one simple questions, as a general matter 'Where is the evidence?'" Cipollone also tells Trump he opposes giving Powell any authority to investigate alleged election fraud. 

The hours-long meeting - which some describe as a "screaming match" - ends near midnight with Trump's allies insulting and verbally attacking the White House counsel. 

(Trump ultimately rejects the draft executive order and the proposal that Trump declare martial law. The White House never follows through with the appointment of Powell as special counsel.)

Dec. 19

At about 1:45 a.m., President Trump tweets, "Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"

At the White House Christmas Party, Trump administration official Dan Scavino tells attorney Jenna Ellis, who was working with Giuliani to overturn the election, that "the boss" will refuse to leave the White House despite losing the election and that Trump didn't care that all legal challenges advanced by Giuliani, Ellis, Powell and others had failed. Scavino tells Ellis, "The boss is not going to leave under any circumstances. We are just going to stay in power." Ellis replied, "Well, it doesn't quite work that way, you realize" and Scavino said, "We don't care."

Dec. 21

Seven days after the Electoral College named Joe Biden president-elect, President Donald Trump meets with Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, Pennsylvania Representative Scott Perry, and eight other House Freedom Caucus members to strategize about Jan. 6. (On Jan. 6, Perry will lead the House GOP effort to not certify Biden's election.)  Giuliani and some associates advocate a plan for Pence to unilaterally refuse to count Biden's electors and instead send the election back to various GOP-controlled state legislatures to replace Biden's electors with Trump's.

The D.C. Fusion Center (The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, U.S. Capitol Police and the National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium) share open source data regarding groups strategizing to avoid arrest in D.C. and discussions about bringing guns into D.C. on Jan. 6. An FBI report states "threat actors" may plan to commit acts of violence in D.C. during demonstrations related to the inauguration.

Dec. 23

President Trump calls Georgia election investigator Frances Watson, who is leading a probe into allegations of ballot fraud in Cobb County. "The people of Georgia are so angry at what happened to me," he tells her. "They know I won, won by hundreds of thousands of votes. It wasn't close."

President Trump pressures Watson to find "dishonesty" and "When the right answer comes out, you'll be praised."

Dec. 23 thru Jan. 3

According to congressional testimony by Acting Attorney General Rosen, President Trump speaks at least five times to acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, "engaging in unauthorized conversations" about how the department might "publicly cast doubt on President Biden's victory."

Dec. 24

Attorneys Chesebro and Eastman, the legal "brains" behind the idea of getting Pence to subvert the Electoral College vote when Congress convenes on Jan. 6, discuss via email how to get a case before the Supreme Court – this one in Wisconsin seeking to overturn the election results. Chesebro writes, the "odds of action before Jan. 6 will become more favorable if the justices start to fear that there will be 'wild' chaos on Jan. 6 unless they rule by then, either way."

"Though that factor could go against us on the merits," he added. "Easiest way to quell chaos would be to rule against us — our side would accept that result as legitimate."

(By this time, a Trump-appointed federal judge had already, on Dec. 12, shot down the Trump campaign's last-ditch attempt to overturn Wisconsin's certification of the 2020 election for Biden, dismissing the case - Trump vs. Wisconsin Elections Commission - with prejudice. The Trump campaign appealed, but a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal.)

Dec. 27

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry, at the behest of President Trump, calls Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue to tell him he didn't think the Justice Department had done its job on the election. During the call, Rep. Perry focuses on alleged fraud in his home state of Pennsylvania and follows up the conversation with an email to Donoghue forwarding additional debunked claims of election fraud from GOP state lawmakers in Pennsylvania. The claims are similar to those Trump is making, including a claim that Pennsylvania had 205,000 more votes than voters.

Rep. Perry, who originally introduced Trump to Clark in October, tells Donoghue, "I think Jeff Clark is great. I like that guy a lot. He's the kind of guy who could really get in there and do something about this. " 

President Trump telephones Acting Attorney General Rosen and Donoghue and urges them to publicly declare the results of the 2020 election "corrupt." According to notes Donoghue took, Rosen tells Trump that he needs to "understand that the DOJ can't + won't snap its fingers + change the outcome of the election, doesn't work that way."

"[I] don't expect you to do that," Trump reportedly answers, "just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen."

Donoghue tells Trump, "Sir, we've done dozens of investigations, hundreds of interviews. The major allegations are not supported by the evidence developed."

Trump ends the conversation by telling Rosen, "People tell me Jeff Clark is great, I should put him in. People want me to replace DOJ leadership."

Dec. 28

At President Trump's urging, Clark circulates a draft letter -- which Clark wanted his bosses Rosen and Donoghue to approve -- urging Georgia's governor to convene the state legislature into special session. Clark's draft letter falsely claims the Justice Department was "investigating various irregularities"and had "identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election."

Clark wants the DOJ to send the letters to Georgia and other swing states that Trump lost, informing them that fraud had rendered their elections questionable, while advising state legislatures to convene and appoint pro-Trump electors. (Clark and Eastman, both pushing the fake electors scheme, spoke over the phone at least five times between Jan. 1 and Jan. 8.)

(Fast-forward: Secret Service agents are alerted to potential violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to emails and other messages made public in October, 2022. The threats included "calls to occupy federal buildings," "intimidating Congress and invading [the] Capitol Building," and people claiming they want to "arm themselves and to engage in political violence at the event.")

Late 2020

President Trump phones Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona pressuring him to overturn the state's presidential election results, saying that if enough fraudulent votes could be found it would overcome his narrow loss in Arizona to Biden.

Ducey later told a major Republican donor that he felt "pressure" to do the former president's bidding. A spokesperson for Ducey noted that no officials have ever found any evidence to support Trump's claims of massive voter fraud. He lost Arizona by more than 10,000 votes.

Dec. 29

Trump and his allies urge the Department of Justice to take Trump's false claims of a stolen election directly to the Supreme Court. 

Dec. 31

White House Chief of Staff Meadows emails Vice President Pence's top aide a detailed plan for undoing Biden's election victory. The memo, written by campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis, outlines a multi-step strategy: 

   On Jan. 6, the day Congress certifies the 2020 election results, Pence is to send back the electoral votes from six battleground states that Biden won but Trump claims were stolen from him through election fraud. Pence would then give the states a deadline of "7pm eastern standard time on January 15th" to send back a new set of votes. Then, if any state legislature missed that deadline, "no electoral votes can be opened and counted from that state." In that case, neither Biden nor Trump would have a majority of votes, which would mean "Congress shall vote by state delegation" -- which would lead to Trump being declared the winner due to Republicans controlling the majority of state delegations in the U.S Congress.

In a meeting with top Justice Department officials in the Oval Office, President Trump again demands the department seize voting machines across the country.  When told that voting machine performance was within the Department of Homeland Security's purview, the president calls Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security, and tells him "the acting Attorney General...just told me it's your job to seize machine, and you're not doing your job."

Trump attorney Chesebro emails Trump's legal team claiming Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas may be their best hope of derailing Joe Biden's win. "We want to frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue some sort of stay or other circuit justice opinion saying Georgia is in legitimate doubt. Realistically, our only chance to get a favorable judicial opinion by Jan. 6, which might hold up the Georgia count in Congress, is from Thomas."

"I think I agree with this," Trump attorney Eastman replied later that morning, suggesting that a favorable move by Thomas or other justices would "kick the Georgia legislature into gear" to help overturn the election results.

(Blog editor's note: See Nov. 5, 9 and 10 above for a possible reason behind their belief that Justice Thomas would be sympathetic to their legal plea.)

In late December

Vice President Pence reaches out to former Vice President Dan Quayle to ask what he should do on Jan. 6. Quayle quickly puts the kibosh on any effort to overturn the election, telling Pence: "Mike, you have no flexibility on this. None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away."

When Pence "pressed again," explaining that he was under pressure from Trump to reject Biden's electoral college votes on Jan. 6, Quayle responded: "I do know the position you're in. I also know what the law is. You listen to the parliamentarian [who issues rulings about congressional authority]. That's all you do. You have no power.'"

Jan. 1, 2021

Trump and his cohorts continue to pressure Pence to refuse to certify the vote tally on Jan. 6, a purely ceremonial task a vice president has presided over since the country's founding.

Pence says his legal team told him there was no constitutional basis for the vice president to be able to overturn an election at the last minute. On a phone call, Trump allegedly berated Pence and told him, "You're too honest."

Jan. 2

President Trump, Giuliani and Eastman speak to 300 state legislators via a conference call to arm them with purported evidence of fraud and urge them to take action to "decertify" their election results. "You are the real power," Trump tells the state lawmakers. "You're the ones that are going to make the decision." Eastman said the legislators had the authority to appoint their own set of pro-Trump electors, regardless of who won the election in their states.

President Trump phones Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and asks him to "find" enough votes to overturn the state's election. "All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes," the exact number Trump needs to overturn Biden's win in Georgia. Trump argues Raffensperger can change the certified results of the presidential election, an assertion Raffensperger rejects.  (In the room with the president are Mark Meadows and three campaign lawyers. No Department of Justice or White House attorneys participated.)

Eastman, who founded the ironically named law firm Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, tells a radio interviewer that Vice President Pence has the power to throw the election to the House of Representatives, saying it depended on whether Pence had "courage and the spine." Says Eastman, "I think if the vice president, as presiding over the joint session, would at least agree that because those ongoing contests have not been resolved, we can't count those electors. That, that, that means that nobody has a majority of the electors. And either they delay things -- so those constitutional challenges are resolved -- or they say, 'OK, well, we don't have electors from those states, that nobody has a majority. This is going to the House.'"

Justice Department official Clark both threatens and attempts to coerce acting Attorney General Rosen into sending his letter to Georgia contesting the election results. (Clark also wants the letter sent to other states where Trump supporters are contesting Biden's vote totals.) Clark raises the prospect that Trump could fire Rosen but then says he would decline any offer to replace Rosen as acting attorney general if Rosen sends the letter. (Evidence subsequently comes to light in November, 2021 indicating that Clark's proposed letter to Georgia may have first been reviewed by the White House.)

Jan. 2 or 3

A senior Secret Service official, Anthony Ornato, tells Meadows there are intelligence reports saying there could potentially be violence on Jan. 6. Meadows responds, "All right. Let's talk about it."

Days before Jan. 6

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tells White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson President Trump privately acknowledged losing the 2020 election.

McCarthy also tells her that he feared that Meadows was not preparing Trump to accept the election results.

Jan. 3

President Trump tries to call fellow Republican Clint Hickman, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona. Hickman dodges the call but listens to the audio of Trump's call and is "horrified." Hickman says he didn't call the president back because he suspected Trump would do what he did to Georgia's Secretary of State Raffensperger on Jan. 2 (i.e. ask him to "find" votes.) "I didn't want to walk into that space."

At an extraordinary Oval Office showdown, President Trump meets with the top leaders of the Justice Department.  Jeffrey Clark, an environmental lawyer who had never conducted a criminal investigation in the career, repeatedly tells the president that if named attorney general, he would conduct investigations that would uncover widespread fraud, he would send out the Georgia letter he had drafted and that he had the intelligence, the will and the desire to pursue these matters in the way that the President thought most appropriate.

Clark suggests that Justice issue a legal opinion to Vice President Pence advising him as to what actions he could take during the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress. "That's an absurd idea," Stephen Engel, assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, interjected. "It is not the role of the Department of Justice to provide legislative officials with legal advice on the scope of their duties."

Trump tells acting Attorney General Rosen, "One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren't going to do anything to overturn the election." Department of Justice officials then warn Trump that they and other senior officials would resign en masse if Trump fires Rosen and appoints Clark. They receive immediate support from another key participant: Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel. Cipollone indicates that he and his top deputy, Patrick F. Philbin, will also step down if Trump acts on his plan. Only near the end of the nearly three-hour meeting does the president relent and agree to drop his threat to appoint Clark attorney general.

The head of intelligence for the U.S. Capitol Police, after reviewing social media posts, learns that Trump supporters are desperate to overturn the election and that "Congress itself" will be the target.

(Fast-forward: On Aug. 1, 2023, Special Counsel Jack Smith indicts Trump for working to overthrow the U.S. government of President-Elect Biden. According to the indictment, in the evening of Jan. 3, 2021, President Trump met for a briefing on an overseas national security issue with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other senior national security advisors. When the chairman and another advisor recommended that the President take no action because Inauguration Day was only seventeen days away and any course of action could trigger something unhelpful, President Trump calmly agreed, stating, "Yeah, you're right, it's too late for us. We're going to give that to the next guy." Smith argues this is more evidence Trump knew he had actually lost the election.)

Jan. 4

President Trump meets with Vice President Pence, his chief of staff Marc Short, legal counsel Greg Jacob and Eastman and attempts to convince Pence that Eastman is correct when he states Pence has the authority to stop the certification of the election. The president tells his vice president, "You really need to listen to John. He's a respected constitutional scholar. Hear him out."

Eastman proposes Pence overturn the election results by throwing out electors from seven states Biden won when Congress meets to count Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. Eastman emphasizes that Pence should take the action without asking permission -- either from a vote of the joint session or from a court. "The fact is that the Constitution assigns this power to the Vice President as the ultimate arbiter." (Blog editor's note: Why didn't Richard Nixon in 1960 or All Gore in 2000 think of that !?!)

Pence tells Trump that a vice president is not invested by the framers of the Constitution with the power to dictate presidential elections. Under the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act, the vice president, as president of the Senate, is responsible only for opening the certificates and counting the votes on the sixth day of January following a presidential election.

"I don't want to be your friend anymore if you don't do this," Trump replied, later telling his vice president, "You've betrayed us. I made you. You were nothing." 

During the meeting, however, Eastman acknowledged to Trump, Pence, Jacob and others in the Oval Office that his strategy violated the Electoral Count Act and was illegal.

At a rally that evening in Georgia, Trump told his followers Pence was the last backstop against the election being "stolen." "I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you. I hope that our great vice president comes through for us. He's a great guy. Of course, if he doesn't come through, I won't like him quite as much." 

Jan. 5

On the eve of Jan. 6, President Trump makes several calls to the Willard Hotel "war room" across the street from the White House and confers with advisers and lawyers, including Giuliani, "Stop the Steal" rally organizers, constitutional "expert" Eastman and GOP officials on how to stop or at least delay the certification of Biden's electoral victory. Trump tells them that Pence is not inclined to insert himself into the certification process.

Trump allies call members of Republican-dominated legislatures in states that Biden won encouraging them to convene special sessions to investigate fraud and to reassign electoral college votes to Trump.

At a staff meeting in the Oval Office Trump repeatedly asks, "What are your ideas for getting the RINOs to do the right thing tomorrow? How do we convince Congress?"

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, texts Meadows that Pence "should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all -- in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence." (Meadows responded on Jan. 6: "I have pushed for this. Not sure it is going to happen.")

Pence's top lawyer, Greg Jacob, drafts a three-page memo concluding that if Pence were to embrace Trump's demand that he single-handedly block or delay the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, he would be breaking multiple provisions of the Electoral Count Act, the law that has governed the transfer of power since 1887.

Pence endures another berating by Trump after telling the president that experts flatly rejected the president's plan. Trump shouted, "No, no, no!" Furious, Trump says: "You've betrayed us. I made you. You were nothing. Your career is over if you do this."

According to reports, Pence tells Trump, "You're not going to be sworn in on the 20th. There is no scenario in which you can be sworn in on the 20th."

Meadows sends an email indicating the National Guard would be at the Capitol the next day to "protect pro Trump people." 

Trump confidant Steve Bannon, who is also at the Willard Hotel "war room" as it's senior political adviser, predicts on his podcast, "All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this. All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It's gonna be moving. It's gonna be quick." 

Vice President Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, calls Tim Giebels, Pence's lead Secret Service agent, to his West Wing office and tells him the president is going to turn publicly against the vice president, and, as a result, there could be a security risk to Pence.

Meanwhile, the far-right militant group Oath Keepers drops off luggage carts at a Washington D.C. hotel filled with gun boxes, rifle cases, suitcases full of ammunition and enough supplies to last 30 days. It's leader, Stewart Rhodes, a Yale law graduate and disbarred attorney, had earlier told fellow Oath Keepers, "I think Congress will screw (President Trump) over. The only chance we/he has is if we scare the shit out of them." (Fast-forward: On Nov. 29, 2022 a jury found Rhodes guilty of seditious conspiracy over his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Prosecutors on May 5, 2023 asked court to sentence Rhodes to 25 years in prison. He was sentenced to 18 years.)

Jan. 6

The people who erected the infamous gallows and noose on the west front of the Capitol begin their work in the predawn hours. And at around 6 a.m., several people wheel large wooden beams across Union Square near Independence Avenue to the Ellipse where they set up a gallows and noose in preparation of President Trump's rally.

Later in the morning, President Trump tweets, "States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!"

At 11:20 a.m., during Trump's final call with Pence before heading to the rally, the president pressures the vice president once more to overturn the election. "You can either go down in history as a patriot or you can go down in history as a pussy." 

But Pence sends a letter to Congress stating, "It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not."

As the joint session of Congress convenes to confirm the Biden victory, thousands of Trump supporters gather on the Ellipse near the White House for the "Stop the Steal" rally. 

Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Ornato tells President Trump some of his supporters are bringing weapons to the rally. Trump demands all his supporters be let into the secure area for his rally. "I don't fucking care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the fucking mags (metal detectors) away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here." 

Secret Service agents confiscate a haul of weapons from the 28,000 spectators who did pass through the magnetometers: 242 canisters of pepper spray, 269 knives or blades, 18 brass knuckles, 18 tasers, 6 pieces of body armor, 3 gas masks, 30 batons or blunt instruments, and 17 miscellaneous items like scissors, needles or screwdrivers.

Future Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), tweets: "We MUST fight for election integrity, the Constitution, and the preservation of our republic! It will be my honor to help lead that fight in Congress today."

President Trump begins speaking at noon, and tells the crowd, "If Mike Pence does the right thing we win the election. All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people." In fact, more than a half-dozen times during his 70-minute speech, the 45th president turns his attention to his vice president, assuring the crowd, without reservation, that the vice president possesses the constitutional authority to deliver his administration a second term. "Mike Pence, I hope you're going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and the good of our country and if you're not, I'm going to be very disappointed in you."

President Trump then urges his supporters to march to the Capitol, saying he would march with them. "You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."

Just after 1 p.m., Trump leaves the rally expecting to be taken to the Capitol. When his Secret Service detail refuses for security reasons, Trump yells, "I'm the fucking President. Take me up to the Capitol now." 

According to reports, Trump is so angry, he lunges for the steering wheel of the car and then for the throat of the Secret Service agent sitting in the front passenger seat. (Fast-forward: On March 11, 2024 the media reports the GOP released a report indicating that an unnamed Secret Service agent denied the president ever made a lunge for the steering wheel of his driver.) 

Within 15 minutes of finishing his speech, an aide tells the president the Capitol is under attack.

At 1:49 p.m., Trump, back in the White House watching the riot on Fox News, retweets a video of himself rallying the crowd: "We will not take it anymore and that's what this is all about...You'll never get back your country with weakness. You have to show strength."

Beginning shortly before 2 p.m., hundreds of Trump supporters begin a battle with police, crying out, "Hang Mike Pence!" 

At 2:05, Chief of Staff Meadows tells aide Cassidy Hutchinson he hasn't spoken with Trump. "He wants to be alone now."

By 2:20 p.m., after protesters break windows and climb into the Capitol, the building goes into lockdown. The Oath Keepers breach the Capitol in military formation.

White House Counsel Cipollone demands to see Trump but Meadows says Trump "doesn't want to do anything." Cipollone tells Meadows, "Mark, something needs to be done, or people are going to die and the blood's going to be on your fucking hands."

 When Cipollone and Meadows finally do talk to Trump in the White House dining room about rioters' chanting "hang Mike Pence," Trump says the vice president "deserved" it.

At 2:24 p.m., President Trump tweets, "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!"

At 2:26 p.m. the Secret Service and Capitol Police escort Vice President Pence, his wife and daughter to a "secure area" - the underground Senate loading dock - within the Capitol complex.  Secret Service agent Tim Giebels asks Pence to get into one of the vehicles. Pence replies, "I'm not getting in the car, Tim. I trust you, Tim, but you're not driving the car. If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off. I'm not getting in the car." They remain at the loading dock for the next three hours.

Secret Service agents with the vice president are so concerned about their personal safety some make calls to their families to say good-bye.

In one phone call, Sen. Tommy Tuberville tells Trump, "They've taken the Vice President out. They want me to get off the phone. I gotta go." Aide Nick Luna said that when Trump was informed that Pence had to be rushed to a secure location, Trump responded, "So what?"

President Trump never calls Pence or asks about his welfare.

Pence calls Christopher Miller, the acting secretary of defense, to demand he deploy the National Guard.

While also sheltering in the loading dock, Pence's attorney Greg Jacob asks Eastman in an email, "Did you advise the President that in your professional judgment the Vice President DOES NOT have the power to decide things unilaterally?" Eastman states that the President had "been so advised," but then adds: "But you know him - once he gets something in his head, it is hard to get him to change course."

At 2:38 p.m., minutes after Ivanka Trump speaks with her father about the riot, President Trump tweets support for the Capitol Police, urging people to "stay peaceful," while scenes of violence and mayhem are splashed across American TV. "I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order - respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!" Trump doesn't tell them to go home.

President Trump watches the riot on Fox News in the dining room next to the Oval Office, "pleased, not disturbed, that his supporters had disrupted the election count," according to witnesses. In fact, Trump's attention is so rapt that he hits rewind and re-watches parts of the riot. He says his supporters looked "very trashy" but appreciated their fight.  Trump places no calls to any agency of the U.S. government instructing them to take action to halt the riot.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) says Trump was "walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren't as excited as he was."

As the president sat watching TV inside the White House, Trump "was just not interested" in doing more to stop it, according to aide Dan Scavino.

At 2:53 p.m. Donald Trump Jr. texts Meadows, "He's got to condemn this shit. Asap. The captiol police tweet is not enough." Donald Jr. also texts Meadows: "They will try to fuck his entire legacy on this if it gets worse." 

Trump is informed of the fatal shooting of rioter Ashli Babbitt after 3:05 pm with a note, written by White House aide William "Beau" Harrison, that read: "1x CIVILIAN GUNSHOT WOUND TO CHEST @ DOOR OF HOUSE CHABER." There is no indication that this affected the President's state of mind or that the President expressed any remorse.

Eastman emails Greg Jacob insisting that Pence could still reject electors from Arizona and other states. Jacob replies by email: "I have run down every legal trail placed before me to its conclusion, and I respectfully conclude that as a legal framework, it is a results-oriented position that you would never support if attempted by the opposition, and essentially entirely made up. And thanks to your bullshit, we are now under siege."

Ivanka Trump, senior advisor to the president, asks her father again to "please stop this violence."

GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy, protected by Capital police, phones President Trump to give him a first-hand report of the violence in the Capitol building. McCarthy tells Trump, "I just got evacuated from the Capitol! There were shots fired right off the House floor. You need to make this stop." Trump initially claims the protesters are linked to Antifa, referring to a network of "leftist" protesters and criminals. When McCarthy pushes back, saying, no, the protesters are Trump supporters, the president responds, "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are." McCarthy yells back, "Who the fuck do you think you are talking to?"

(The Republican House leader asked multiple members of Trump's family for help, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Kushner later characterized Leader McCarthy's demeanor on the call as "scared.")

At 3:17 p.m., Fox News reports gunshots are heard on Capitol Hill. 

President Trump continues to watch events unfold on Fox News in the executive dining room. "He was hard to reach, and you know why? Because it was live TV," says one close adviser.

At 4:15 p.m., Joe Biden holds a press conference and urges the mob to "pull back," calling on Trump "to go on national television...and demand an end to this siege."

At 4:17 p.m., 187 minutes after President Trump began his speech at the rally, Trump finally asks his followers to go home. "I know your pain. I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you, you're very special."  

The insurgency finally ends.

At 6:01 p.m., Trump tweets that "these are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots."

And at 9:02 p.m. Congress certifies the Electoral College vote - with Vice President Pence performing his ceremonial role of presiding over the process - naming Joe Biden president-elect.  However, 147 Republican senators and representatives - more than half of the Republicans in Congress, including future Speakers of the House Kevin McCarthy and Mike Johnson - join in objecting to the final certification of the Arizona and Pennsylvania electoral slates that voted for Biden. 

Postscript:  At 11:44 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, John Eastman writes an email imploring Greg Jacob, Vice President Pence's counsel, to urge his boss to suspend the session certifying the election. Eastman argued that because the House and Senate had violated the Electoral Count Act by debating the objection for more than two hours, Pence could violate it further by adjourning for 10 days. "So now that the precedent has been set that the Electoral Count Act is not quite so sacrosanct as was previously claimed, I implore you to consider one more relatively minor violation and adjourn for 10 days to allow the legislatures to finish their investigations," Eastman wrote. After reviewing the email, Pence called it "rubber room stuff."

*

Justice Department, states investigate and file charges against GOP plot to submit fake Electoral College votes, Trump named as unindicted co-conspirator

The Latest:   Republican activists in at least three states where Donald Trump tried to reverse his defeat in 2020 — nearly all of them under criminal indictment for casting electoral votes for him despite his loss — are poised to reprise their roles as presidential electors this year," the Washington Post reported May 23.

"Six activists in Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico have made clear to GOP leaders in their states that the investigations into their 2020 activities have not deterred them from seeking the position again. If anything, their view that the prosecutions are bogus has motivated them to step up, according to party leaders."

And in related news, nine Arizona Republicans and two Trump aides were scheduled to appear in a Maricopa County court to answer criminal charges stemming from a plan to keep Donald Trump in the White House by falsely certifying he won the state in 2020, the Arizona Republic reported May 21. These include Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, the last one of the 18 indicted conspirators to be served.

They are among 18 people indicted by a grand jury in April. All face nine felony counts, including conspiracy, forgery and fraud. If convicted, they could face time in prison.

No trial date has been set.

On May 17, former Trump lawyer John Eastman was the first defendant to be arraigned. He entered a plea of not guilty. 

Politico reported among those charged is Kelli Ward, who served as chair of the Arizona GOP during the 2020 election and the immediate aftermath. She tweeted on Jan. 6, 2021, after the attack on the U.S. Capitol: "Congress is adjourned. Send the elector choice back to the legislatures." Ward was a consistent propagator of false claims that Arizona's election results were rigged. Her husband, Michael, is also charged.

The indictment lists Trump as "Unindicted Coconspirator 1."

According to the Washington Post, also indicted were Mark Meadows, Jenna Ellis and John Eastman.

And in related news, Trump, his former chief of staff Meadows and Giuliani are unindicted co-conspirators in the Michigan attorney general's case against the state's so-called "fake electors" in the 2020 election, ABC News reported April 24.

Four states, including Georgia and Nevada, have indicated alleged fake electors.

Background: The Justice Department is looking into a GOP plot to put forward fake electors from seven states that then-President Trump lost in 2020. The investigation was triggered by a referral from the State of Michigan. 

Authorities in Nevada, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Arizona are also investigating for potential state violations.  The district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia and the attorney general in Michigan have filed charges.

Fake Electoral College certificates were created after the 2020 election by Trump allies in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico who sought to replace Biden presidential electors. (The submissions from New Mexico and Pennsylvania contained a disclaimer saying the fake electoral votes should be counted only if courts later determined that they were, in fact, the qualified electors from their states. No such court determinations were ever made.)

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel reported on Jan. 13, 2022 she had referred her investigation in Michigan to the U.S. Department of Justice. The attorney general of New Mexico, Hector Balderas, also referred the results of his investigation to Washington. (And the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 issued subpoenas connected with the plot.)

On Dec. 14, 2020, the Electoral College - electors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia - cast their ballots and forwarded their "Certificates of Ascertainment" to the National Archives, officially declaring Joe Biden the 46th president of the United States. However, on the same day, Trump campaign officials, led by Rudy Giuliani, the Republican National Committee and certain Republican state parties, organized meetings of Trump supporters in seven states Trump lost to Biden and drafted language for fake Electoral College certificates. The unauthorized electors declared themselves "duly elected and qualified" and submitted the phony documents to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. in hopes that on Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress convened to certify the election, the fake certificates would be recognized as official by Vice President Pence, who chaired the proceedings.

One fake elector from Michigan boasted at an event hosted by a local Republican organization in February, 2022 that the Trump campaign directed the entire operation, CNN reported. "We fought to seat the electors. The Trump campaign asked us to do that," Meshawn Maddock, co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, said at a public event organized by the conservative group Stand Up Michigan.

CNN reported Feb. 25, 2022 David Shafer, the chairman of the Republican Party in Georgia, told the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 that the Trump campaign had directed the party in 2020 to put forward an alternate slate of electors after then-President Trump lost the state's vote. "Acting on the advice of counsel in the election contest, Chairman Shafer convened the Republican nominees for Presidential Elector to cast their votes for President and Vice President for the sole purpose of preserving a remedy in the event the lawsuit succeeded," his attorney, Bob Driscoll, said in a statement. 

And then on March 30, the New York Times reported federal prosecutors substantially widened their Jan. 6 investigation.  "The investigation now encompasses the possible involvement of other government officials in Mr. Trump's attempts to obstruct the certification of President Biden's Electoral College victory and the push by some Trump allies to promote slates of fake electors."

(For more on the plot to submit fake Trump electors, see "68 Days That Will Live in Infamy" above.)

CNN reported Sept. 13 that Justice Department criminal prosecutors are now examining nearly every aspect of former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election -- including the fraudulent electors plot, efforts to push baseless election fraud claims and how money flowed to support these various efforts.

(For even more on the plot to submit fake Trump electors, see "Federal grand jury indicts Donald Trump for Jan. 6 coup attempt, trial on hold while Supreme Court considers appeal.")

On Oct. 13 at a public hearing, House Select Committee member Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) reported that, according to Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, former President Trump played a direct role in the effort to use fake electors to overturn the presidential election.  Mediaite reported that, according to Rep. Murphy, "Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, testified before this committee that President Trump and his attorney, Dr. John Eastman, called her and asked her to arrange for the fake electors to meet and rehearse the process of casting their fake votes." McDaniel and the RNC subsequently cooperated.

On Nov. 18, Fox News reported Attorney General Merrick Garland named special counsel Jack Smith to investigate the entirety of the criminal probe into the unlawful retention of national defense information at former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. Smith, a former assistant U.S. attorney and chief to the DOJ's public integrity section, will also oversee the investigation into whether Trump or other officials and entities interfered with the peaceful transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election, including the certification of the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, 2021.

One of Smith's first moves was to subpoena Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, asking him for records of communications with Trump and his 2020 campaign. Subpoenas also were sent to the Cobb County Board of Elections in Georgia, as well as to local election officials in other swing states, Bloomberg reported.

The House Jan. 6 Select Committee concluded in its Dec. 19 report: "The certifications signed by Trump electors in multiple States were patently false. Vice President Biden won each of those States, and the relevant State authorities had so certified. It can hardly be disputed that the false slates of electors were material, as nothing can be more material to the Joint Session of Congress to certify the election than the question of which candidate won which States."

The 845-page report - based on 1,000-plus interviews, documents collected including emails, texts, phone records and a year and a half of investigation - includes allegations that Trump "oversaw" the legally dubious effort to put forward fake slates of electors in seven states he lost, arguing that the evidence shows he actively worked to "transmit false Electoral College ballots to Congress and the National Archives" despite concerns among his lawyers that doing so could be unlawful. 

And on Jan. 6, 2023 Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said her office is reopening its investigation into the 16 Republican electors who signed a certificate falsely claiming that Donald Trump had won the state's 2020 election, the Detroit News reported.

Nessel, a Democrat, previously only referred the matter to federal prosecutors. But she cited new documents released by a U.S. House committee and said there was "clear evidence to support charges" against the group of 16 Michigan Republicans who signed a document that was submitted to the National Archives and was intended to help Trump supporters challenge his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

The false Trump electors met inside Michigan Republican Party headquarters on Dec. 14, 2020 as Biden's electors participated in an official ceremony in the state Capitol. Biden won Michigan by 3 percentage points or 154,000 votes.

Mark Meadows, Trump's last White House chief of staff, is "the central witness" in the Department of Justice's probe into the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, according to former U.S. attorney and legal analyst Harry Litman, Newsweek reported June 17.

Former Vice President Mike Pence testified before the federal grand jury in April.

Michigan Attorney General Nessel on July 18 announced charges against 16 Michigan residents tied to a scheme to submit false electoral votes in support of former President Trump, Michigan Advance reported.

And then former President Trump was arraigned Aug. 3 on four charges alleging that he attempted to orchestrate a scheme of fraudulent electoral college votes to overturn the results of the 2020 election. (For details on the charges, see "Federal grand jury indicts Donald Trump for Jan. 6 coup attempt, trial on hold while Supreme Court considers appeal" immediately above.)

And on Aug. 14 a Fulton County, Georgia grand jury indicted former President Trump and 18 others on a wide variety of criminal charges related to efforts to overturn that state's election in 2020, The Hill reported.

Several of the charges relate to a plot among Trump and his allies to submit false slates of pro-Trump electors to Congress in key swing states, including Georgia. (See "Georgia county grand jury indicts Trump and allies for effort to overturn state election, four plead guilty" above.)

On Aug. 15, FOX 10 in Phoenix reported that Arizona could be the next state to indict former president Donald Trump on charges in connection to trying to overturn the 2020 election results.  Arizona's Attorney General Kris Mayes began an investigation in May into how deeply the former president and his senior advisers were involved in supporting Arizona Republicans' privately run 2021 election audit and Governor Katie Hobbs says she hopes to see Arizona's fake electors face criminal charges.

The Arizona attorney general's investigation is also zeroing in on the pressure placed on local officials by the president's key allies to help avert his loss, the Washington Post reported Oct. 27.  (In his June 2022 testimony before the House Jan. 6 committee, former Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R) said he repeatedly pushed the former New York mayor-turned-Trump-surrogate for proof of his 2020 election fraud claims. But Giuliani failed to produce any.  "My recollection, [Giuliani] said, 'We've got lots of theories, we just don't have the evidence,'" Bowers testified.)

Nevada's attorney general on Dec. 6 announced charges against six so-called fake electors who falsely claimed former President Trump won the state in the 2020 presidential election, The Hill reported.

On Nov. 4, 2020, a day after the election, state GOP chair Michael McDonald joined a conference call with Trump, his son Eric Trump, then-chief-of-staff Mark Meadows and longtime Trump ally Rudy Giuliani, according to deposition transcripts released by the now-defunct House Jan. 6 committee. Six Republicans subsequently signed fake certificates on Dec. 14, 2020, declaring themselves to be the state's duly appointed Electoral College representatives.

The six Nevadans face felony charges of offering a false instrument for filing and uttering a forged document for disseminating a document titled "Certificate of the Votes of the 2020 Electors from Nevada" to several government entities. The six all pleaded not guilty on Dec. 18.

The 10 Wisconsin Republicans who falsely asserted former President Trump won the election there conceded that their actions were part of an effort to subvert the state's election results as part of a settlement agreement, The Hill reported Dec. 6.

The alternate electors affirmed that President Biden won the 2020 election in the Badger State and that they were not Wisconsin's "duly elected" presidential electors as they previously claimed, revoking the false documents they filed on Dec. 14, 2020 — the first time any pro-Trump electors have done so.

The statement is part of a settlement involving a $2.4 million lawsuit filed by Biden's Democratic electors against the Republicans. The fake electors won't pay any damages or attorneys fees under the deal, and there is no admission of culpability or liability.

New Mexico's top prosecutor said that the state's five Republican electors cannot be prosecuted under the current law for filing election certificates that falsely declared Donald Trump the winner of the 2020 presidential race, the Associated Press reported Jan. 5, 2024. However, Democratic Attorney General Raúl Torrez is making recommendations to state lawmakers that he says would enhance the security of the state's electoral process and provide legal authority for prosecuting similar conduct in the future.

Trump's 2020 campaign "directly orchestrated" the signatures of 16 Michigan Republicans on a false certificate declaring he had won the state's election in 2020, the Detroit News reported Jan. 5. The emails uncovered directly contradict Michigan GOP leaders' prior public claims that the fabricated electors certificate was merely an alternate document to be recognized only if the election was subsequently invalidated by the courts.

Arizona Republicans who falsely posed as electors for Donald Trump in 2020 have appeared before a grand jury in recent days and invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, as state prosecutors near a decision on potential criminal charges against those who helped Trump try to overturn his loss in the state, Politico reported March 28.

*

Trump's A-Team: The aides, staff and supporters who have been indicted, sued, disbarred, sanctioned, gone bankrupt and promoted and praised

"Even as former President Trump wades through a complex web of legal woes to avoid prison, some of his allies and associates are already facing that fate," Ivana Saric at Axios wrote.

" A striking number of people closely associated with the former president have been sentenced to prison for an array of crimes that include contempt of Congress and campaign finance violations."

According to the Associated Press, Politifact and other media outlets, President Reagan's administration had 33 indictments. Most famous: John Poindexter and Oliver North resigned due to the sale of arms of Iran. 

Bill Clinton had two convicted due to the Whitewater real estate scandal. Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace due to the Watergate break-in, had 28 administration members indicted. Jimmy Carter had one administration member indicted. Barack Obama had zero.

"Fifty-three people who tried to keep former President Donald Trump in power after he lost the 2020 election have now been criminally charged," the New York Times reported April 26.

And at least four of the seven swing states expected to decide the 2024 presidential election have active criminal cases against pro-Trump fake electors, according to Axios.

Here, in alphabetical order, are some of Trump's friends and allies.

Steve BannonBannon was recently named a co-conspirator as part of a separate $1 billion federal fraud and racketeering case. One of Trump's former White House advisors, Bannon has been sentenced to four months in prison for contempt of Congress. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld his verdict and, according to the media, is headed to jail. 

Christina Bobb – The Republican National Committee's new senior counsel for election integrity, is one of 18 Trump aides and supporters swept up in an April 25, 2024 Arizona indictment charged with felonies like fraud, forgery and conspiracy. (Trump is an unindicted co-conspirator.) The Washington Post headline read, "The indictment against the conservative lawyer and media personality solidified her identity as a dedicated Trump loyalist who fiercely fought to reverse his loss in Arizona." The GOP's "election integrity" unit will enlist scores of poll watchers, poll workers, and other personnel in swing states to monitor November's election. Bobb recently had her mugshot taken after her arrest and innocent plea in Arizona.

Kenneth Chesebro – The former campaign attorney pleaded guilty in the Fulton County, Georgia election interference case. He was a key player in the former president's effort to overturn the 2020 election, particularly in the effort to use fake electors in seven states. He may now be cooperating with the investigation and prosecution of fake electors in four states.

Jeffrey Clark - A little known DOJ official who Trump, after the 2020 election, momentarily considered having him help mount a sweeping nationwide effort to keep the president in power. Clark was recently found to have violated ethics rules by the D.C. Bar Association and may lose his license to practice law. A three-member disciplinary committee determined that Clark's campaign to pressure Justice Department leaders to help upend the transfer of power violated his duties as an attorney. (For more on Clark's role in the 2020 coup attempt, see "68 Days That Will Live in Infamy" above.)

Michael Cohen - Trump's onetime personal lawyer and "fixer," Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 after pleading guilty to an array of crimes. He is now set to testify against his former boss in the ongoing Stormy Daniels hush money trial.

John Eastman - A so-called Constitutional "expert," Eastman worked with Chesebro to convince Trump that it's the vice president who decides who wins and loses presidential elections in the U.S.  He, along with former President Trump, were indicted on anti-racketeering and corruption charges after a years-long criminal investigation by Fulton County prosecutors in Georgia into their alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Eastman's also been indicted in Arizona and disbarred in California.

Eighteen Republicans indicted - Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, John Eastman and Georgia GOP chair David Shafer were among the more than dozen indicted in August, 2023 in Fulton County, Georgia for trying to overturn the state's 2020 presidential election results.

Eleven Arizona Republicans – On April 25, 2024 a group of GOP activists in Arizona were indicted by Attorney General Kris Mayes on felony charges related to Trump's effort to steal the 2020 election. The group met in Phoenix in December, 2020 and videotaped themselves signing fake elector ballots erroneously claiming Trump won in their state.

Jenna Ellis — A Trump campaign attorney who pleaded guilty to criminal charges in Georgia and then agreed to a three-year suspension of her Colorado law license.. She has been recently criminally charged in Arizona for helping the state GOP's effort to overturn Joe Biden's victory in that state. In 2023, Ellis said about her former boss, "I have great love and respect for him personally. But everything that you just said resonates with me as exactly why I simply can't support him for elected office again."

Boris Epshteyn - A longtime Trump aide, Epshteyn was indicted by Arizona for aiding in the local GOP's effort to submit fake electoral ballots after Biden won the election.

Michael Flynn – A former US general and, for a very brief time, advisor to President Trump, received a pardon from his friend after being accused of a felony.

Rick Gates - The deputy chairman of Trump's 2016 campaign pleaded guilty in 2018 to conspiracy and lying to the FBI. He was sentenced to 45 days in prison.

George Gilmore - A longtime New Jersey Republican power broker who was pardoned by Donald Trump in one of the former president's last acts in office has been suspended from practicing law in the Garden State for "committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects" and for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation," in "two instances."

Rudy Giuliani - Trump's #1 attorney during the 2020 coup attempt, has been disbarred, owes millions for his 2020-21 actions against two Georgia poll workers, has declared personal bankruptcy and is criminally charged in Arizona for trying to rig the election. At the infamous Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal," Giuliani told the crowd, "If we are wrong we will be made fools of but if we're right, a lot of them will go to jail. So let's have trial by combat. I'm willing to stake my reputation. The president is willing to stake his reputation on the fact that we're going to find criminality there." His radio talk show has been cancelled because he won't stop talking about how Trump won the 2020. Recently, Giuliani was served notice of indictment from Arizona at his 80th birthday party in Florida and has agreed to no longer accuse two Georgia poll workers, who he owes $148 million, of tampering with the 2020 election.

Scott Hall – A co-defendant of Trump's in the Fulton County, Georgia election theft case, pleaded guilty, agreeing to testify against others. He was accused of willfully tampering with electronic voting machines in Coffee County and of working with pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell and others in that effort.

Julia Haller - Worked in a battleground state to support Trump and helped on frivolous court filings alleging election fraud. Haller is now facing attorney disciplinary charges in Washington, DC.

State Senator Jake Hoffman – Among a group of GOP activists in Arizona indicted by Attorney General Kris Mayes on felony charges related to Trump's effort to steal the 2020 election, Hoffman recently was selected by Republicans to represent the state on the national GOP committee.

Hundreds of Trump supporters jailed - The U.S. Justice Department says that in the years since the Jan. 6 Capitol assault, "more than 1,358 individuals" have been charged with crimes, including "more than 486" for the felony of assaulting or impeding law enforcement. (See "Trump, Pence don't see "eye to eye" on Jan. 6 violence" for details.)

Cong. Ronny Jackson of Texas – Trump's former personal physician, Jackson claimed he was a retired Navy admiral when he is actually is a disgraced retired Navy captain.

January 6 rioters - There are, according to the federal government, more than 1,358 individuals that have been charged with crimes related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, including "more than 486" for the felony of assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The former president has promised to pardon some of them if re-elected.

Brandon Johnson – A Trump ally who worked in a battleground state to support frivolous court filings alleging election fraud now faces attorney disciplinary charges in Washington, DC.

Lawrence Joseph – Another Trump ally who worked in a battleground state to support Trump's coup attempt and on frivolous court filings alleging election fraud. Joseph is also facing attorney disciplinary charges in Washington, DC.

Bernard Kerik – A former New York City police commission, Kerik went to prison after pleading guilty to federal tax fraud and other charges before his release in 2013. He also received a Trump pardon in 2020.

Amy Kremer - Her group secured the permit for the "Save America" rally where Trump told the crowd to " fight like hell." She spoke at the event and was among the most active fundraisers in the "Stop the Steal" movement advancing the lie that Biden's victory was stolen. Georgia Republicans recently elected her to the Republican National Committee.

Stephanie Lambert -The lawyer recently spent the night in jail for failing to show up for a voter machine tampering case against her in Michigan. She has crusaded to try to prove Trump's claims of voter fraud.

Corey Lewandowski - The former 2016 Trump campaign chief was paid $20,000 by the Republican National Committee for advising on the upcoming convention. In 2021 he was charged with a misdemeanor after a GOP donor's wife accused him of unwanted sexual advances. Lewandowski reached an agreement with prosecutors by agreeing to participate in impulse control counseling.

Mike Lindell – The infamous MyPillow CEO won't pay a Trump supporter who won a $5 million bet with Lindell proving Trump lost in 2020 fair and square. Plus, he has lost three legal battles to get his phone back from FBI agents who seized it as part of an investigation into an alleged scheme to breach voting technology in Colorado.

Paul Manafort - Trump's former campaign chairman was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison for bank and tax fraud. He was found guilty on eight felony counts by a jury but was pardoned by Trump. He is now an international consultant whose clients include a company in China and has secretly been advising the Republican National Committee, according to media reports.

Ronna McDaniel – While head of the Republican National Committee, helped President Trump's effort to reverse Joe Biden's victory. Recently, after MSNBC hired and then fired her, her former beloved boss called her "RONNA ROMNEY" on Truth Social, using her maiden name, the same as relative and Trump's sworn enemy Mitt Romney.

Mark Meadows - Trump's last chief of staff and a co-conspirator in his effort to overturn the 2020 election, is being sued by his publisher for not telling the truth in his autobiography. He's been criminally charged by Georgia and Arizona officials for trying to help overturn Joe Biden's victory. He's also an unindicted co-conspirator for his efforts to overturn the election in Michigan.

Peter Navarro - The former Trump trade advisor is sitting in prison after being convicted of contempt of Congress. Before heading to the Big House, Navarro signed off, telling his audience, "God bless you all, see you on the other side." However, he is now asking a federal judge to spring him from jail and put him on supervised released.

George Papadopoulos - The former Trump campaign advisor was sentenced to 14 days in prison in 2018 for lying to investigators. He, like many Trump allies, received a pardon as their friend was leaving the White House. 

Sidney Powell — One of Trump's co-defendants in the sprawling Georgia election subversion case, Powell took a plea deal to testify against co-defendants in order to help her avoid prison. She has lost more election fraud lawsuits around the country than most and is now being sued for millions by almost as many. At a Nov. 19, 2020 news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., Powell and Rudy Giuliani - whom President Trump days earlier had described as part of "a truly great team" - laid out a bizarre conspiracy theory claiming, among other allegations, that a voting machine company had worked with an election software firm, the financier George Soros and Venezuela to steal the presidential contest from Trump.

Six Nevada Republicans – Like other GOP leaders in a total of four states, the six were indicated in 2023 after falsely claiming that Trump won the 2020 presidential election in their state. They have been charged with a felony and have pleaded not guilty.

Sixteen Michigan Republicans — Charged with multiple felonies after signing certificates falsely claiming President Trump won the state in the 2020 election, all 16 are eight felonies: Two counts of forgery, one count of conspiracy to commit forgery, two counts of election law forgery, one count of conspiracy to commit election law forgery, one count of publishing a counterfeit record and one count of conspiring to publish a counterfeit record.

Roger Stone - The longtime Trump associate was sentenced to more than three years in prison in 2020 for crimes that included obstruction of justice. He, too, was pardoned by his ally and longtime friend.

Jim Troupis - The Wisconsin attorney worked with Kenneth Chesebro and the Trump campaign to overturn Trump's defeat in six states. He settled, promising never to participate in an election scheme again and paying off the plaintiffs.

Kelly Ward – The former head of the Arizona GOP, Ward was a consistent propagator of false claims that Arizona's election results were rigged but is now criminally charged by the state for her efforts. (Her husband, Michael, is also charged.)

Allen Weisselberg – The former Trump Organization CFO pleaded guilty to perjury charges recently. Again. He is serving a second stint of five months in prison for lying again under oath during Trump's New York business fraud case.

Lin Wood – The former Trump attorney and supporter was found liable by a federal judge for defaming his former law partners.

Chuck Zito – Attended the Trump trial in Manhattan to support the former president. Zito spent several years in prison for drug conspiracy charges.

The number of people in Trump's orbit who've been convicted of crimes in recent years is so great, The Washington Post five years ago described it as the "remarkable universe of criminality" surrounding the former president. By any fair measure, the "team of felons" problem is quite a bit worse now.  How many of them will become officials in a future Trump administration?

*

Trump appeals

New York AG sues Trump for $250 million, judge rules he owes $454 million, Trump pays $175 million to appeal, plus daily trial notes

The Latest: A GoFundMe account launched to help offset Donald Trump's appeal bond has raised $2 million over two months, The Blast reported April 29. Trump subsequently posted a $175 million bond in the New York fraud case in order to halt enforcement of the $354 million judgement.

The funds will reportedly now be used in Trump's defense in the case.

The fund was organized by two wealthy Trump supporters and has received donations from nearly 40,000.  Only a few donations, however, have come in recently.

Background: The genesis of the New York Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million lawsuit against Donald Trump et al announced in September, 2022 began in 2006 when Trump had a one-night affair with porn star Stormy Daniels. Ten years later and one month before the 2016 presidential election, GOP candidate Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 to keep her mouth shut about the affair. 

The attorney general's initial investigation began in March 2019 after Cohen testified before Congress detailing Trump's alleged fraud in New York State, claiming the Trump Organization had lied about the value of its assets in order to secure loans and insurance and to reduce its tax liability. (Note: When James announced her office's $250 million lawsuit against Trump et al for fraud on Sept. 21, 2022, she credited Cohen's testimony for triggering the investigation.)

The attorney general's office subsequently deposed Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, in October, 2020. The New York Times reported that during his deposition, Eric Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against incriminating himself in response to more than 500 questions. Allen Weisselberg, CFO of the Trump Organization, also pleaded the Fifth repeatedly during his Feb. 24, 2020 deposition.

On Jan. 18, 2022 James alleged in a court filing that Trump's business inflated the value of its properties and misstated his personal worth in representations to lenders, insurance brokers and other players in his real estate empire, the Washington Post reported.

Two examples: According to Insider, an apartment leased by Ivanka Trump from the Trump Organization was given a sky-high public valuation of $25 million but offered to her for purchase for $8.5 million.

And, second, Trump claimed in a recorded interview his personal triplex apartment spanned 30,000 square feet, giving it an eye-popping value of $327 million. "This is the entire floor of Trump Tower, just so you understand," Trump said in the interview. "This isn't like, I'll show you. Now, this wraps all around the building. All around the elevators. And I have three times three. So there's like 11,000 feet on a floor. So I have three. So 33,000—and I have the roof." In truth, Forbes reported in 2017, the apartment is "only" 10,996 square feet. "Mr. Trump's long-serving chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, later acknowledged to investigators that the company had overvalued the apartment by 'give or take' $200 million."

And then on Feb. 14 Trump's long-time accounting firm announced it had ended its relationship with the Trump Organization. USA Today reported the firm, Mazars, said that a decade of Trump Organization financial statements "should no longer be relied upon."

On April 25, the district attorney's office told a court that evidence uncovered in the investigation into the Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County, New York, and the Trump National Golf Club in L.A., "indicates that the Trump Organization submitted fraudulent or misleading valuations of conservation easements to the Internal Revenue Service."

Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump sat for questioning in the investigation - Ivanka on Aug. 3 and Don Jr. on July 28. Trump Jr. did not assert his Fifth Amendment rights. He denied any role in preparing the company's financial statements.

Former President Trump completed his court-ordered testimony on Aug. 10 - raising his right hand, swearing to tell the truth and then declining to answer most of the questions. He invoked the Fifth protecting himself from self-incrimination 440 times during the four-hour interview.

And then on Sept. 21, James filed the $250 million lawsuit against Trump, the Trump Organization, his three oldest children, and two top executives, Allan Weisselberg and Jeff McConney. James' statement reads, in part, "The lawsuit alleges that Donald Trump, with the help of his children Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, and senior executives at the Trump Organization, falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company, to satisfy continuing loan covenants, to induce insurers to provide insurance coverage for higher limits and at lower premiums, and to gain tax benefits, among other things. From 2011-2021, Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization knowingly and intentionally created more than 200 false and misleading valuations of assets on his annual Statements of Financial Condition to defraud financial institutions."

The potential civil penalties would destroy Trump's New York business. The lawsuit seeks to:

  • Permanently bar Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump from serving as an officer or director in any corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in New York state;
  • Bar Trump and the Trump Organization from entering into any New York state commercial real estate acquisitions for a period of five years;
  • Bar Trump and the Trump Organization from applying for loans from any financial institution registered with the New York Department of Financial Services for a period of five years.

James' office asked a judge to bar former President Trump from moving his businesses to a new holding company, CNBC reported Oct. 13. (On Sept. 21, the same day that Attorney General James sued Trump and the other defendants, her office saw that the Trump Organization had registered with New York's secretary of state a new company, called "Trump Organization II LLC." That new firm is incorporated in Delaware.) 

New York state Judge Arthur Engoron on Nov. 3 ordered an independent monitor be appointed to oversee the Trump Organization before the case goes to trial, Reuters reported. In October, James had asked the Manhattan-based judge to appoint a watchdog to halt "staggering" fraud at the company and keep the Trumps from transferring assets out of state.

Barbara Jones, a retired federal judge, was subsequently appointed to keep an eye on the company's future financial filings.

Trump returned to New York City April 13, 2023 to sit for a second deposition, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. One of his lawyers said the former president had spent nearly seven hours "describing in detail his extraordinary business success and how the transactions at the center of this case were wildly profitable for the banks and for the Trump entities."

Ivanka Trump has hired her own counsel to represent her, Forbes reported April 26. And on June 27, an appeals court dropped her from the lawsuit, ruling she was not involved in the management of the company during the time of the alleged crimes.

Attorney General James asked a judge Aug. 30 for a partial summary judgment against Trump, citing what she called a "mountain of undisputed evidence" of false and misleading financial statements. "Based on the undisputed evidence, no trial is required for the Court to determine that Defendants presented grossly and materially inflated asset values in the SFCs [financial statements] and then used those SFCs repeatedly in business transactions to defraud banks and insurers."

On Sept. 8, Bloomberg reported that Attorney General James accused Trump of exaggerating his net worth by as much as $3.6 billion a year by inflating the value of his biggest assets. The new calculation is part of James's request that a New York state judge hold Trump liable for fraud even before her $250 million suit against him, his two eldest sons and his company goes to trial on Oct. 2.

And then Judge Arthur Engoron found Donald Trump and his adult sons liable for fraud, saying the Trumps provided false financial statements for roughly a decade, CNN reported Sept. 27. Judge Engoron ruled Trump and his co-defendants, including his adult sons, were liable for "persistent and repeated" fraud.

The judge ordered the cancellation of the business certificates for firms in the state owned by former President Trump and others associated with the Trump Organization, casting into doubt the future of the empire on which Trump has built his reputation for business acumen, ABC News reported Sept. 28. (A New York appeals court later paused the cancellation of the business licenses until after it hears Trump's case. The business licenses were ultimately not cancelled when the final judgment was issued in 2024.)

The trial began Oct. 2, with Trump in the courtroom. The attorney general's office is looking to prove six claims: falsifying business records, conspiracy to falsify business records, issuing false financial statements, conspiracy to falsify false financial statements, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.

The gag order barring former President Trump and his counsel from speaking about the staff of the New York judge overseeing his ongoing business fraud trial was reinstated by an appeals court, The Hill reported Nov. 30.

New York Attorney General James called for a $370 million fine against Trump and his companies and a lifetime ban on him and two of his former company executives from the real estate industry in the state, NBC News reported Jan. 5, 2024. Attorneys from James' office said that Trump owes $168 million of interest allegedly saved through fraud; $152 million from the sale of the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., the site of one of Trump's hotels; $60 million through the transfer of the Ferry Point Golf Course contract; and $2.5 million from severance agreements for former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and ex-Trump Organization controller Jeff McConney.

On Feb. 16, 2024 New York Judge Engoron handed Trump a crushing defeat, finding the former president liable for conspiring to manipulate his net worth and ordering him to pay a penalty of $354 million that could wipe out his entire stockpile of cash, the New York Times reported.

"Not only did Justice Engoron impose a three-year ban preventing Mr. Trump from serving in top roles at any New York company, including his own, but the judge also applied that punishment to the former president's adult sons for two years."

Trump called it a "Complete and Total SHAM."

Judge Engoron concluded that Trump and his co-defendants "failed to accept responsibility" for their actions and that expert witnesses who testified for the defense "simply denied reality."

The judge called the civil fraud at the heart of the trial a "venial sin, not a mortal sin." But Engoron said the refusal by Trump and his associates to admit wrongdoing suggested they would continue if not constrained. Donald Jr. and Eric were both fined $4 million. Former CFO Allen Weisselberg was fined $1 million.

Newsweek reported Feb. 27 Donald Trump was hit with a pre-interest fine of $355 million but actually owes more than $464 million. Trump and his co-defendants owe a total of $464,576,230.

Trump on Feb. 26 asked an intermediate-level state appellate court to overturn Justice Arthur Engoron's Feb. 16 ruling. 

The former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization pleaded guilty to perjury charges stemming from his testimony in former President Trump's civil fraud trial, The Hill reported March 4. Allen Weisselberg was charged with five felony counts of perjury. He pleaded guilty to two counts for lying during a 2020 deposition as the New York attorney general's office built its civil fraud case against the Trump Organization.  As part of the plea deal, he also admitted he lied in his trial testimony and during another deposition last year, without pleading guilty to those charges. He is expected to be sentenced to five months in jail, the amount of time prosecutors requested.

Trump's lawyers told a New York appellate court that it's impossible for him to post a bond covering the full amount of his $455 million civil fraud judgment while he appeals, the Associated Press reported March 18. The former president's lawyers wrote in a court filing that "obtaining an appeal bond in the full amount" of the judgment "is not possible under the circumstances presented."

According to the AP, with interest, Trump owes $456.8 million in the New York case. In all, he and co-defendants including his company and top executives owe $467.3 million. To obtain a bond, they would be required to post collateral worth $557 million, Trump's lawyers said.

Barbara S. Jones, who has been babysitting the real estate company for more than a year, was granted enhanced powers to oversee the Trump Organization by New York Supreme Court Justice Engoron, the Daily Beast reported March 21.

As part of the arrangement, the organization must open its books to Jones, who has also been given the ability to suggest court-ordered changes in how the Trump Organization operates. She must also be notified about any large cash transfers, the creation or dissolution of assets, the restructuring of debt and "any efforts to secure surety bonds," according to Engoron's order issued March 21.

Trump's attorneys admitted March 21 the former president/alleged billionaire doesn't have the cash or stocks necessary, citing the inability of Trump's advisors to convince 30 bond companies to do business. He even sought the court's permission to secure a $100 million bond.

But the next day, March 22, Trump himself claimed on Truth Social that he had "almost" $500 million in cash. "I currently have almost five hundred million dollars in cash, a substantial amount of which I intended to use in my campaign for president." (Blog editor's note: Trump has never used his own money to run political campaigns.)

A five-member appeals court slashed former President Trump's bond payment, saying Trump must pay $175 million within the next 10 days, Fox News reported March 25.

And in related news, the State of New York's Appellate Division, First Judicial Department ruled that Judge Engoron's decision "permanently barring defendants Weisselberg and McConney from serving in the financial control function of any New York corporation or similar business entity; barring defendants Donald J. Trump, Weisselberg and McConney from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation for three years; barring defendant Donald J. Trump and the corporate defendants from applying for loans from New York financial institutions for three years; and barring defendants Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation in New York for two years" is stayed when Trump files the appeal bond.

However, the court kept in place the overseer - Judge Jones - for the Trump Organization.

Trump posted a $175 million bond, halting collection of the more than $454 million he owes and preventing the state from seizing his assets to satisfy the debt while he appeals, according to a court filing, the Associated Press reported April 1.

Forbes reported April 3, "It's unclear how long the appeal will take to play out, though interest will continue to accrue on the full $464.6 million at a rate of nine percent per year until it's fully paid off—which amounts to more than $111,000 per day for the $454.2 million that Trump personally owes alone."

But on April 4, Forbes reported a new twist in the case. The $175 million bond came under scrutiny as the New York attorney general's office asked the insurance company - Knight Specialty Insurance Company that helped Trump secure the bond - to show they're financially sound enough to pay the bond by no later than April 14. A hearing on the matter was set by the judge in the case for April 22.

And then lawyers for Trump agreed to put tighter restrictions on the $175 million bond that the former president obtained to protect his assets while he appeals a New York civil-fraud judgment, the Wall Street Journal reported on April 22.  Judge Engoron dropped his reservations after Trump's lawyers agreed to make changes to the bond agreement that give the attorney general's office more assurance that the money in the account will remain cash and won't be touched.

Daily trial notes

On Oct. 2, 2023 the first day of trial, the prosecution showed clips from the depositions of Donald Trump and Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's former CFO. Weisselberg admitted he doesn't know much about GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and Trump says Weisselberg was responsible for submitting company financials based on GAAP. Donald Trump Jr. also admitted in a clip from his deposition that he wasn't familiar with GAAP.

With Trump attending the trial Oct. 3, James' attorney questioned a Mazars USA accountant who did work for the Trump Organization in an effort to build the state's case that Trump and others at his company had full control over the preparation of misleading and downright false financial statements at the heart of the lawsuit.

Trump stayed for half the day on Oct. 4. During the trial, Cameron Harris, an accountant from the firm Whitley Penn, who also did work for the Trump Organization, also testified that the Trumps had the ultimate responsibility for their financial statements. The judge then issued an order barring Trump or any other defendants from transferring any assets or creating a new entity to acquire them without disclosure first and said that a monitor — former Judge Barbara Jones — must be informed if the defendants intend to move their assets or create a new entity that isn't a defendant in the case. Also, Trump and his co-defendants appealed to the Appellate Division, First Department in New York the pretrial ruling by Judge Engoron that Trump and his adult sons committed fraud in their business dealings.

On Oct. 5, Jeff McConney, the former controller of the Trump Organization and a co-defendant of former President Trump, testified that Eric Trump directed him to factor certain things into the calculations that ultimately led to what the New York attorney general says are inflated valuations of properties, including Seven Springs and the Trump National Golf Club Westchester.

McConney testified that although some of the inflated or deflated valuations in Trump's properties were errors, others were intentional—such as unbuilt mansions on his Seven Springs estate in Westchester County, New York, that didn't exist but were valued at $161 million, adding to Trump's stated net worth. McConney also said he didn't act alone and discussed the valuations with Weisselberg, who told McConney that if he refused to cooperate, he could lose his job. Weisselberg, who separately pleaded guilty to criminal tax crimes, testified that Trump reviewed the financial statements before they were final.

On Oct. 10, Weisselberg acknowledged the Trump Organization failed to fulfill some of the basic promises detailed in letters between the firm and its external accountant, Mazars USA. Weisselberg also replied to questions with variations of 'I don't recall.' He didn't recall speaking with Trump, Donald Trump Jr., or Eric Trump about financial documents, which were crucial to the company's efforts to make deals with banks and insurers. He didn't recall the phrase "estimated current value," which both sides agree is crucial to understanding their agreements. And he didn't recall details of "generally accepted accounting principles," noting he's not a certified public accountant.

On Oct. 12, Trump Organization assistant vice president Patrick Birney testified that former chief financial officer Weisselberg told him that Trump wanted to puff up his net worth on his statements of financial condition.

ABC News on Oct. 17 reported Doug Larson, who works for the real estate firm Newmark, was listed in a series of Trump Organization documents as having appraised properties like 40 Wall Street, Trump Tower, and the retail space adjoining Trump Tower known as "Niketown." But under questioning, Larson denied having done the appraisal work. "Is it fair to say that Mr. Trump valued Trump Tower at $526 million in conjunction with you?" said Ladov. "No, that is incorrect," Larson replied.

Former Trump "fixer" and attorney Michael Cohen on Oct. 24 described for the court his role in the scheme. "I was tasked by Mr. Trump to increase the total assets based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected, and my responsibility along with Allen Weisselberg, primarily, was to reverse engineer" the value of Trump Organization assets, "in order to achieve the number that Mr. Trump tasked us." Asked what he meant by "whatever number," Cohen did not miss a beat in answering. "Whatever number Mr. Trump told us to," he said. Trump attended the court session.

Cohen acknowledged under questioning Oct. 25 by an attorney for the former U.S. president that he has a financial incentive to criticize his ex-boss but defended his credibility. And on the same day, Trump was fined $10,000 for violating a gag order that prevented him from speaking about those overseeing his civil fraud trial in New York, The Hill reported.

Michiel McCarty, a banking expert, testified that Trump and his company benefited more than $168 million by obtaining favorable loan terms on transactions where the former president personally guaranteed the loans. McCarty calculated the difference in interest payments that Trump might have paid with a commercial real estate loan that would have had a much higher interest rate than the rate he obtained by personally guaranteeing the loans on the basis of financial statements that inflated his net worth.

On Nov. 2, Donald Trump Jr. testified that his accountants, and not him, prepared the financial statements for the Trump Organization, which are at the heart of the $250 million lawsuit. Eric Trump, after claiming that he had "never worked" on the Trump Organization's statement of financial condition and wasn't aware of it until the bank fraud trial "came to fruition," admitted he was, in fact, aware of it dating as far back as 2013.

Judge Engoron issued a new gag order Nov. 3 barring attorneys in the case from publicly discussing the judge's communications with members of his staff. In court, Christopher Kise, one of Trump's defense attorneys, had taken issue with Engoron's close consultations with his law clerk, alleging the clerk could be politically biased against Trump and raised concerns about the number of notes she has passed to the judge during the trial.

Eric Trump wrapped up his testimony Nov. 3, reiterating that he relied on others to ensure the financial statements were accurate. However, documents shown during the trial by the attorney general's legal team also showed Eric Trump had to sign off on the statements estimating the values of some of Trump Organization properties. Eric Trump also described how the Trump Organization's severance agreement promised $2 million to its former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg if he refrained from denigrating the company, The Messenger reported.

Politico reported Nov. 6 that when Donald Trump took the stand, his primary defense was that his financial statements contained 'very, very powerful' disclaimers and therefore weren't intended for use by banks or insurers. (In his original ruling, Engoron rejected the defense's argument about the disclaimer clause by noting another part of the passage that reads, "Donald J. Trump is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statement." The judge ruled, "The Mazars disclaimers put the onus for accuracy squarely on defendants' shoulders.")

Asked to name properties he believed were over- or under-valued, Trump responded by saying his Trump Tower triplex apartment had likely been overvalued, then launched into a soliloquy about brand value. 

BBC reported: Like his two sons in their testimony last week, the former president said it was the Trump Organization accountants who bore responsibility for the financial reports. "All I did was authorise and give people whatever was necessary for the accountants to do the statement."

But Trump also testified that "everyone" in the company was responsible, presumably including top executives such as his sons and himself.

CNN reported: "The AG's office attorney Kevin Wallace also pressed Trump on why valuations of properties were changed, such as his Trump Tower triplex, which was devalued on his financial statement in 2017 after a Forbes article found he had dramatically exaggerated the size of the apartment. Trump acknowledged there had on occasion been mistakes, such as the Trump Tower apartment valuation."

Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling at The New Republic reported:

Trump minced words during a pivotal moment of his New York bank fraud trial, claiming that the language used in Mar-a-Lago's deed from 2002 wasn't binding.

The "deed of development rights" for the property outlines that "the Club and Trump intend to forever extinguish their right to develop or use the Property for any purpose other than club use"—but according to Trump, that doesn't mean the language is legally binding.

"'Intend' doesn't mean we will do it," he specified.

According to AG James, Trump's valuation of the Florida property, which was at times as high as $739 million, was made based on violating deed restrictions by selling it as a private residence.

On Nov. 8, like her brothers and her father, Ivanka Trump distanced herself on the stand from the former president's statements of financial condition — documents at the heart of the New York attorney general's case.

"Did you have any role in preparing Donald J. Trump's statements of financial condition?" state lawyer Louis Solomon asked. "Not that I'm aware of," Ivanka Trump replied. "To your knowledge, did you ever provide valuations for any assets reflected on Donald J. Trump's statements of financial condition?" Solomon asked. "Not that I can recall," Ivanka Trump said.

Ivanka Trump did testify about the positive relationship she cultivated with the private wealth management group at Deutsche Bank, and how the bank expressed its desire to do more business with the Trump Organization.

ABC News reported: In 2011, as the Trump Organization sought financing for its purchase and renovation of the Doral golf club in Miami, Deutsche Bank agreed to loan Trump the necessary funds, with one critical catch -- the deal would be secured by Donald Trump's net worth.

"Is DJT willing to do that? Also, the net worth covenants and DJT indebtedness limitations would seem to me to be a problem?" Trump Organization executive Jason Greenblatt wrote in an email to Ivanka Trump and CFO Allen Weisselberg. The arrangement required Trump to maintain a net worth of $3 billion.

Ivanka Trump asked Deutsche Bank to lower the amount of wealth her father would have to maintain, according to an email exchange entered into evidence.

"As I said before, I don't recall the net worth covenant," Ivanka Trump testified.

She proposed $2 billion, emails show. Deutsche Bank ultimately settled for $2.5 billion.

The loan negotiation for her father suggested his true net worth was much lower than what he claimed on his financial statements at the time, Politico reported.

On Nov. 14, longtime friend and heavy-hitter donor to the former president, real estate executive Steven Witkoff, became the first expert witness for Donald Trump in a lower Manhattan courtroom, The Messenger reported.

According to ProPublica, Witkoff had donated more than $2 million to the former president, and he became one of Trump's informal advisers on tax cuts during his administration.

Judge Engoron limited Witkoff's opinions on specific Trump properties to only one at issue in the case: 40 Wall Street. The judge previously found that Trump inflated the value of his downtown skyscraper by hundreds of millions of dollars every year for five years. But Witkoff said that the building could have been justified by its value, if it were converted into condominiums.

During cross-examination, the state's counsel Andrew Amer confronted the witness with records showing that option wasn't available to the Trump Organization, which adjusted the ground lease agreement to state that it "eliminates" the property's "condominium conversion rights."

Former Trump Organization controller Jeff McConney testified on Nov. 21 that he overvalued Donald Trump's penthouse apartment by over $100 million because he relied on a Trump Organization broker who falsely represented the apartment as 30,000 square feet. McConney drew a blank – "I don't remember" - when asked why Trump's Mar-a-Lago property was valued as a private residence rather than a social club. The property was valued in excess of $500 million on the basis that it could be sold as a private residence -- despite Trump signing a deed in 2002 with the National Trust for Historic Preservation that limited the property to being used as a club. And McConney acknowledged that "Just because an appraisal was done, does not mean it reflects the value of that property." McConney appeared to acknowledge that the Trump Organization choose to ignore a 2015 appraisal that valued its 40 Wall Street property at $540 million, while Trump valued the property in his financial statement at $735 million.

McConney was asked if Trump would get final review of every net-worth statement until leaving for the White House in 2017. "That was my understanding, yes."

On Nov. 27, a Trump Organization executive testified that the company no longer produces financial statements that are at the heart of the case. The company continues to prepare various audits and other financial reports specific to some of its components, but "there is no roll-up financial statement of the company," said Mark Hawthorn, the chief operating officer of the Trump Organization's hotel arm.

On Nov. 28, a Deutsche Bank executive testified that when the bank loaned Trump's company hundreds of millions of dollars, the bank always followed its own guidelines that included checking out information that would-be borrowers provide, the Associated Press reported.

Deutsche Bank reviewed the financial statements before making the loans through its department that works with rich individuals — a pathway that allowed for more favorable interest rates than likely available from the commercial real estate division, according to the lawsuit.

But, testifying for the defense, managing director David Williams said the bankers viewed clients' reports of their net worth as "subjective or subject to estimates" and took its own view of such financial statements.

Following the adjournment of court on Nov. 30, Trump attorney Chris Kise criticized the attorney general's case on the basis of testimony from the Deutsche Bank executives who said they were eager to do business with Trump regardless of the contents of his financial statements. Kise described the case as a "fraud with no victims" in comments to ABC News.

On Dec. 7, ABC News reported, "If Donald Trump was a student in Eli Bartov's class, his statements of financial condition would earn him an 'A,' the New York University professor said on the stand. "I've never seen a statement that provides so much detail and is so transparent as these statements," Bartov insisted, praising the "awesome amount of information" in the financial documents that are at the center of the New York attorney general's case against Trump. "There is no fraud here," Bartov said flatly.

Despite his effusive praise for the statements, the professor attempted to underplay the significance of the documents, emphasizing that lenders would be expected to do their own valuations to decide about lending to Trump. Deutsche Bank's credit memos -- which regularly marked down Trump's asset values by as much as 50% -- proved that the banks used additional information to independently scrutinize Trump's financial statements, according to Bartov.

According to ABC News on Dec. 11, Trump has spent at least $2.5 million on expert witnesses who have testified over the last month. The defense's accounting expert, Eli Bartov, was paid approximately $877,500 for his expert analysis, ABC News reported.

E. Jean Carroll sues, wins $5 million, sues for $10 million, awarded $83.3 million, Trump pays that much to appeal, plus notes from both trials

The Latest:  On May 15, E. Jean Carroll asked a federal appeals court to expedite Trump's appeal to the verdict that awarded her $5 million in damages.  Her attorney asked that oral arguments be scheduled by July.

Explanation of two lawsuits:

Lawsuit #1 - This lawsuit was filed in 2019 after President Trump allegedly defamed Carroll for accusations Carroll made about him in a memoir published earlier that year. The case had been held up for four years by a dispute on the question of whether Trump was acting as president or an individual when he allegedly defamed Carroll. On May 22, 2023 Carroll amended the lawsuit - she was now seeking $10 million in compensatory damages and "substantially more" in defamation damages - after Trump again allegedly defamed her, this time days after a jury, in lawsuit #2, awarded her $5 million. In September, 2023, Judge Kaplan ruled Trump had defamed Carroll with his 2019 comments. The judge set a Jan. 16 trial date and ruled that only damages must be decided in the trial. On Jan. 26, 2024 the jury awarded Carroll $83.3 million.

Lawsuit #2 - A year-and-a-half after leaving the White House, Trump attacked Carroll on Truth Social, calling her allegations of rape "a hoax and a lie," triggering the defamation and sexual battery charges in Carroll's second lawsuit. A trial on the case concluded May 9, 2023 with a Manhattan federal court jury finding she had been sexually abused by Trump in spring, 1996 in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman store and awarding Carroll $5 million. See "Day-by-day trial notes" below.

Background: Former President Trump was sued in federal court for defamation by writer/columnist E. Jean Carroll, who wrote in a 2019 magazine article that Trump raped her in the mid-1990s in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman, a luxury New York department store.

Carroll filed her first lawsuit against Trump in November 2019 claiming President Trump defamed her when he told a reporter "she's not my type" and accused Carroll of lying "in order to increase book sales, carry out a political agenda, advance a conspiracy with the Democratic Party, and make money." President Trump also claimed he never had met Carroll. (As to his claims "she's not my type" and that he had never met Carroll, during his Oct. 19, 2022 deposition for the lawsuit, Trump was shown a photo of the two of them at a party years ago. Trump mistook Carroll for his second wife, Marla Maples.)

On Jan. 9, 2020, a New York State Supreme Court judge denied President Trump's request to dismiss the defamation lawsuit. In a highly controversial move, the DOJ then stepped in to defend then-President Trump, claiming his denunciation of Carroll was part of his official duties and, therefore, the United States, and not President Trump, was the defendant in the case. But Carroll's attorneys argued that "only in a world gone mad could it somehow be presidential, not personal, for Trump to slander a woman who he sexually assaulted."

On Oct. 27 Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan turned down the government's bid to make the United States the defendant. Trump's comments concerned events that had occurred "several decades before he took office," Judge Kaplan ruled, and had "no relationship to the official business of the United States."

But in the final days of Trump's presidency in January 2021, the Justice Department appealed that decision in the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, claiming the president of the United States "acts within the scope of his office when he responds to public critics."

And then in a move that frustrated many Democrats, the Biden Justice Department argued in a brief filed June 7, 2021 that it should be permitted to substitute itself for former President Trump as the defendant in the lawsuit. Justice Department lawyers wrote in a brief to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, "This case does not concern whether Mr. Trump's response was appropriate. Nor does it turn on the truthfulness of Ms. Carroll's allegations." Rather, the lawyers wrote, because they believe Trump was an employee of the government and that he acted "within the scope of employment," the department, rather than Trump personally, should serve as defendant in the case.

CNN reported the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit on Sept. 27 opened the door to allowing the Justice Department to shield former President Trump for his conduct while president when they sent the case to the D.C. Court of Appeals to resolve the question: Was Trump a federal employee when he rebutted Carroll's story or was he acting purely on his own as a private citizen?

And on Oct. 12, 2022 the now former president lashed out again at Carroll, this time on Truth Social. "E. Jean Carroll is not telling the truth, is a woman who I had nothing to do with, didn't know, and would have no interest in knowing her if I ever had the chance."

"She completely made up a story that I met her at the doors of this crowded New York City Department Store and, within minutes, 'swooned' her," Trump wrote, in an off-the-cuff euphemism for Carroll's accusations of rape. "It is a Hoax and a lie, just like all the other Hoaxes that have been played on me for the past seven years. And, while I am not supposed to say it, I will. This woman is not my type!"

On Nov. 9, Bloomberg reported that Trump urged the District of Columbia's highest local court to adopt his argument that he was acting in the interests of the American people and within the boundaries of his official duties as president when he made allegedly defamatory remarks while denying a rape claim by Carroll.

President Biden's Justice Department sided with Trump, citing similar cases and the claim that his comments about Carroll were, in fact, made in his duties as president.

And then Trump was sued again - this time in state court - by Carroll on Thanksgiving Day, 2022, Reuters reported.

In a complaint filed in Manhattan, the former Elle magazine columnist also accused Trump of battery in the alleged encounter at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan.

Carroll, 78, brought the battery claim in her second lawsuit under New York's Adult Survivors Act, a new law giving sexual assault victims a one-year window to sue their alleged abusers, even if the abuse occurred long ago and statutes of limitations have expired. (The statute of limitations for most criminal offenses is decided by individual states. In New York, a law passed in May 2022 extended the five-year statute of limitations on civil rape cases under the reasoning that victims of sexual assault often needed more time to come forward.)

An earlier version of the second complaint, filed on Nov. 17, states the following:

"Trump's actions constitute sexual offenses as defined in Article 130 of the New York Penal Law, including but not limited to rape in the first degree (§ 130.35), rape in the third degree (§ 130.25), sexual abuse in the first degree (§ 130.65), sexual abuse in the third degree (§ 130.55), sexual misconduct (§ 130.20), and forcible touching (§ 130.52)."

On Dec. 1, Carroll's lawyers urged the District of Columbia's highest local court to reject the "troubling" position by Trump and the Biden Justice Department that elected officials are immune against defamation claims whenever they speak about matters of public concern, Bloomberg reported.

"Presidents are free to deny allegations of misconduct," Carroll's lawyers wrote in a brief. "But a White House job is not a promise of unlimited authority to brutalize victims of prior wrongdoing through vicious, personal, defamatory attacks."

On Dec. 21, Trump asked a federal court to dismiss Carroll's second lawsuit, arguing that a New York law allowing the writer to sue the former U.S. president over claims that he raped her decades ago is unconstitutional.

Trump alleged in the filing that the law, the Adult Survivors Act, runs afoul of the New York state constitution's due process protections. He also called the additional defamation claim Carroll claims in the lawsuit "baseless and legally defective."

On Jan. 10, 2023 judges from the D.C. Court of Appeals expressed reluctance to find that Trump acted within the scope of his employment in 2019 when he, in the course of denying a rape claim, allegedly defamed her by calling her a liar and saying she was "not my type," ABC News reported.

On April 13, Reuters reported a Washington, D.C., appeals court refused to decide whether Donald Trump can be shielded from the first defamation lawsuit by Carroll. It sent the case back to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan saying the 2nd Circuit or a federal district judge in Manhattan should assess Trump's role.

The US Justice Department then reversed a crucial opinion that sought to protect the former president from the case, all but assuring the matter will go to trial in January, Bloomberg reported July 11.

The new opinion by the Biden administration, outlined in a letter filed in federal court in Manhattan, determined that Trump no longer qualifies for government-employee immunity and can be sued for remarks he made about Carroll while he was president in 2019.

The move is a reversal of a previous department opinion that concluded Trump was protected by the Westfall Act, which bars civil suits against employees of the federal government over claims that relate to their official duties. The DOJ revisited the issue after an appeals court clarified that workers are only protected by the law if their actions were intended to help the US government.

According to the DOJ, Trump's argument that his comments about Carroll were intended only to serve the U.S. was undermined when a Manhattan jury on May 9 found in Carroll's second lawsuit that he had abused Carroll "long before he became President." (See "Day-by-day trial notes for lawsuit #2 and appeals" immediately below.)

On May 22, Carroll asked a judge to update her still pending original defamation lawsuit to add a new claim after he trashed her as a "whack job" during his CNN town hall earlier in the month. The Associated Press reported Carroll is now seeking $10 million.

A federal judge then dismissed a defamation counterclaim by Trump against Carroll, CNBC reported Aug. 7. Trump's counterclaim focused on what he argued were her false statements, which he alleged harmed his reputation, made a day after the jury verdict in May when Carroll during a CNN interview said, "Oh, yes, he did — oh, yes, he did" — after jurors in that case did not find that Trump had raped her.

Judge Kaplan, in dismissing the counterclaim, wrote that Carroll's statements repeating a claim that Trump had raped her were "substantially true" because the jury had found he digitally penetrated her, even if it did not find that he had penetrated her with his penis, as is required for a rape charge under New York law.

On Aug. 10, Trump appealed the dismissed lawsuit. And on Sept. 6, Judge Kaplan rejected Trump's appeal and said the Jan. 16, 2024 trial for Carroll's original lawsuit against Trump will only deal with the question of how much the former president should pay her in monetary damages for defaming her.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan will consider former President Trump's claim that presidential immunity protects him from being held liable for statements he made in 2019 when he denied that he sexually attacked a New York writer in the 1990s, the Associated Press reported Sept. 13.

And then on Dec. 13, the court ruled Trump cannot assert presidential immunity. The Associated Press reported that the court ruled Trump gave up his right to argue that presidential immunity protects him from being held liable for statements he made in 2019 because he effectively waived the immunity defense by not raising it when Carroll first filed a defamation lawsuit against him four years ago.

On Dec. 21, Trump asked a federal appeals court to delay his defamation trial so he can consider other legal moves, including potentially taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, Kara Scannell at CNN reports.

On Dec. 28, the appeals court rejected Trump's request to delay the trial.

Day-by-day trial notes for lawsuit #2 and appeals:

On the first day of testimony, April 26, 2023 Carroll took the stand and told jurors that the future president raped her after she accompanied him into a department store fitting room in 1996, the Associated Press reported.

"I'm here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it didn't happen. He lied and shattered my reputation, and I'm here to try and get my life back," she testified.

Carroll, 79, has said she crossed paths with Trump at the revolving door to Bergdorf Goodman on an unspecified Thursday evening in spring 1996. (Or maybe 1995. She's not sure.) At the time, she was writing a long-running advice column in Elle magazine. Trump was a real estate magnate and social figure in New York.

She alleges Trump slammed her against a wall, yanked down her tights and raped her while she struggled against him. She has said she finally kneed him off her and fled. She described calling two friends soon after. She said one advised her to go to the police, while the other said not to. She said she didn't out of shame, and fear of retaliation.

On the second day of trial, Carroll was cross-examined by Trump's attorney, Joe Tacopino.

Tacopina questioned the validity of her bombshell claims while suggesting she only came forward with them decades later, in 2019, because of her disdain for Trump's politics and because she wanted to sell copies of her book.

Carroll admitted she has had a hard time identifying the date the alleged rape happened. When he asked why she hadn't screamed if she was being raped, Carroll responded, "Here's the thing: I was too much in a panic to scream. I'm telling you: He raped me whether I screamed or not."

On the third day of the trial, May 1, Carroll concluded her testimony. Trump attorney Tacopina highlighted what he suggested were discrepancies between her testimony and her statements in interviews, her book, depositions and social media posts.

Carroll denied making up her claims to drive publicity for her memoir, Reuters reported. Carroll said she wasn't seeking attention through appearances on TV and podcasts, while acknowledging they were an important driver of book sales.

Asked why she encouraged women who were victims of sexual assault to report such incidents to authorities in her Elle magazine advice column years before the alleged assault while she herself did not do so, she said she was shaped by her upbringing in a different era. "I was born in 1943," Carroll said. "Women like us were taught to keep our chins up and never complain. I would rather do anything than to call the police."

On the fourth day of the trial, a friend of Carroll's testified that Carroll called her and described the alleged attack minutes after alleged assault took place, ABC News reports. Lisa Birnbach, a writer, was the first person Carroll told about the alleged attack, "five to seven minutes" after the alleged assault occurred, Birnbach said.

"She told me that Donald Trump recognized her outside or right in the doorway of Bergdorf Goodman, he asked her to help him shop, and assaulted her upstairs in a dressing room," Birnbach testified. "And E. Jean said to me many times, 'He pulled down my tights, he pulled down my tights.' Almost like she couldn't believe it had just happened to her."

Another witness for Carroll, Jessica Leeds, who was on a business trip in 1979 and says she was groped by Trump during a flight to New York, also testified as Carroll's attorneys attempted to show the jury a pattern of behavior, UPI News reported.

She admitted to Trump attorney Joe Tacopina that she couldn't produce any witnesses to the incident or provide much information about the flight, where it originated or the date of the incident.

On the fifth day, a clinical psychologist who examined Carroll said she endured the effects of trauma from an alleged attack by Trump. CBS News reported that Leslie Lebowitz, a trauma specialist hired by Carroll's attorneys to examine her, said she found during 20 hours of interviews that Carroll "manifests very notable avoidance symptoms, which have curtailed her romantic and intimate life and caused profound loss."

Carroll's attorneys played the infamous "Access Hollywood" audio tape of Trump telling Billy Bush, "I'm automatically attracted to beautiful women — I just start kissing them, it's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything," he said, including "grab 'em by the p----," referring to women's genitals. The tape surfaced during the 2016 campaign and was made just before Trump filmed a segment on the program "Access Hollywood." Trump told Bush: "When you're a star, they let you do it."

Trump doubled-down on those lines during his October, 2022 deposition on Carroll's rape and defamation allegations. "Historically, that's true, with stars," Trump testified on videotape as reported by Law & Crime. "Well what's what if you look over the last million years, I guess that's been largely true not always but largely true, unfortunately or fortunately."

Asked if he considered himself a star, Trump responded, "I think you can say that, yeah."

On the videotape, Trump also denied Carroll's claims, calling them the most "ridiculous, disgusting story" and "made up." During the videotaped, Trump, who said Carroll wasn't "his type," confused Carroll for his ex-wife Marla Maples, his second wife.

On the final day of testimony, the Carroll legal team told the court they will be asking the jury to award their client $2.7 million in reputational damages caused by the former president, Law & Crime reported. This does not include possible damages to be sought as a result of the alleged rape or damages from lost wages.

Trump never attended the trial, even though while in Ireland he told reporters he needed to cut his European trip short to respond in court to Carroll's allegations.

In her closing argument, Carroll's attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said, "In a real sense, Donald Trump is a witness against himself." Referring to the Access Hollywood tape, she said, "He's telling you in his very own works how he treats women."

"In this country, even the most powerful person can be held accountable in court," said attorney Kaplan. "No one, not even a former president, is above the law."

Trump attorney Joe Tacopina said in his closing argument he knows Trump is a divisive figure, but that shouldn't matter to jurors when reaching a verdict. "People have very strong feelings about Donald Trump. That's obvious. There's a time and a secret place to do that: it's called a ballot box during an election."

Tacopina accused Carroll of fabricating her rape allegations to sell her book and make money.

On May 9, the Manhattan jury, after three hours of deliberations, awarded almost $5 million in damages to Carroll. Trump will have to pay $3 million in the defamation claim and $2 million for the battery claim.

Trump appealed that decision, which cost him $5.5 million in cash that currently is in a court-managed account. According to CNN, that money will not be released until all appeals, including potentially to the Supreme Court, are exhausted.

Trump asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to overturn the verdict. Separately, he asked District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan to order a retrial solely on the questions of monetary damages. Judge Kaplan rejected his appeal on July 19.

Judge Kaplan also rejected Trump's claim that he didn't rape Carroll since the jury "only" found him guilty of sexual battery: "The finding that Ms. Carroll failed to prove that she was 'raped' within the meaning of the New York Penal Law does not mean that she failed to prove that Mr. Trump 'raped' her as many people commonly understand the word 'rape.'"

A federal appeals court denied former President Trump's request to halt proceedings in the upcoming trial, NBC News reported Dec. 28.

Day-by-day trial notes for lawsuit #1 and appeals:

Trump's defamation damages trial resumed Jan. 25, 2024 after a three-day postponement stemming from a courtroom COVID-19 scare. At issue is whether the former president has to pay writer E. Jean Carroll additional damages for defaming her in 2019 when he denied her allegations of sexual abuse, ABC News reported.

"I don't know who the woman is," Trump said out of turn, as Judge Lewis Kaplan was speaking to a lawyer. "I wasn't at the trial," he added, referring to an earlier civil trial that Trump chose not to attend, in which a jury found him liable for sexually abusing Carroll. He denied ever meeting Carroll.

Reported the Associated Press: Trump was on and off the witness stand in less than 3 minutes but not before breaking a judge's rules on what he could say by claiming that a writer's sexual assault allegations were a "false accusation" and he wanted to defend himself and the presidency.

On Jan. 26, 2024, Trump was ordered by a federal jury to pay $83.3 million in damages to E. Jean Carroll, who accused the former U.S. president of destroying her reputation as a trustworthy journalist by denying he raped her nearly three decades ago, Newsmax reported. The damages include $11 million for reputational repair, $7.3 million for emotional harm and $65 million in punitive damages.

Trump, in a post on his social media platform Truth Social, claimed he had never heard of Carroll and pledged to appeal the verdicts in the Carroll case. "THIS IS NOT AMERICA!" 

Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan denied Trump's motion for a mistrial, NBC News reported Feb. 8. Trump, meanwhile, claims he is seeking new counsel to file an appeal.

Judge Kaplan also rejected the former president's request to delay paying Carroll more than $80 million in damages, Forbes reported Feb. 25.

Media outlets indicate Trump has until March 9 to file appeal and deposit the $83.3 million plus another $9 million in interest.

And then Judge Kaplan denied former President Trump's request to delay enforcement and ordered him to pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million, according to a filing on March 7, Fox News, ABC News and Reuter reported. The judge had made the official decision on Feb. 8 and gave Trump 30 days to file a bond appeal, March 11.

MSNBC and other media are reported March 8 former President Trump paid a $91.6 million bond to the federal court in New York to appeal the case. Trump's bond was issued by Federal Insurance Co. He signed the document on March 5.

Former President Trump's appeal request for E. Jean Carroll's $83 million defamation suit verdict was denied on April 25. The judge again denied both the amount and the demand for a new trial.

*

Disposition of six Trump-related cases

Colorado, Illinois bar Trump from 2024 ballot but most states and Supreme Court reject 14th Amendment argument

A write-in Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential election on Aug. 31, 2023 sued to keep former President Donald Trump off of 2024's ballot for the sympathies he has shown to those convicted of crimes in connection with the deadly Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, Courthouse News Service reported.

According to Newsweek, on Sept. 5 the legal debate about whether or not Trump to appear on the 2024 ballot made its way before the Supreme Court.

The court distributed John Castro v. Donald Trump to the justices ahead of the upcoming term, which will begin on Oct. 2.

Courthouse News Service reported, "John Anthony Castro, a candidate out of Mansfield, Texas, claimed in a pro se complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court that Trump violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by providing 'aid or comfort' to an insurrection and those who participated in it, making him 'constitutionally ineligible to pursue or hold any public office in the United States.'

"Castro's status as a write-in candidate in the race for the presidency creates a cause of action allowing him to challenge whether Trump is allowed to run for public office because of potential injuries Castro could face 'in the form of a diminution of votes and/or fundraising.'"

"Castro goes on to note that the section of the 14th Amendment cited was enacted in the post-Civil War Reconstruction-era 'to ensure that non-insurrectionists did not have to politically compete with the more popular pro-insurrectionist politicians in the south,' making Castro the exact type of person the amendment was designed to protect.

"The Wisconsin Elections Commission is listed as the lead defendant in the lawsuit, which seeks an injunction blocking Trump's ballot access documentation, including nomination papers."

The former president responded Sept. 4 on Truth Social:

"Almost all legal scholars have voiced opinions that the 14th Amendment has no legal basis or standing relative to the upcoming 2024 Presidential Election. Like Election Interference, it is just another 'trick' being used by the Radical Left Communists, Marxists, and Fascists, to again steal an Election that their candidate, the WORST, MOST INCOMPETENT, & MOST CORRUPT President in U.S. history, is incapable of winning in a Free and Fair Election. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"

And then on Sept. 6 the Associated Press reported a liberal group filed a lawsuit to bar former President Trump from the primary ballot in Colorado, arguing he is ineligible to run for the White House again under a rarely used clause in the U.S. Constitution aimed at candidates who have supported an "insurrection."

The lawsuit, citing the 14th Amendment, was filed on behalf of six Republican and unaffiliated Colorado voters by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

The Associated Press then reported that attorneys for former President Trump on Sept. 7 moved to have the lawsuit moved to federal court in the first step of what promises to be a tangled legal battle that seems destined for the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Plaintiffs' challenge to Colorado's ability to place Donald Trump on the presidential ballot depends solely on the Fourteenth Amendment," Trump's lawyers wrote. "Trump's basis for removal of the state court action is federal question jurisdiction under Section 3 of Fourteenth Amendment."

And on Sept. 12, Free Speech for People, a liberal group, filed a lawsuit to block former President Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot in Minnesota, CNN reported.

According to reporting by the Associated Press on Sept. 22, dozens of lawsuits have been filed around the country seeking to disqualify Trump from the 2024 ballot based on the 14th Amendment clause barring anyone who swore an oath to the Constitution and then "engaged in insurrection" against it from running for office.

A liberal group filed a lawsuit in Michigan contending that former president Trump is disqualified from regaining his old job based on a rarely used, post-Civil War provision in the U.S. Constitution, the Associated Press reported Sept. 29.

Castro's effort to keep former President Trump off the West Virginia ballot in 2024 was dealt a short-term setback Sept. 28, Steven Allen Adams of The Intelligencer reported.

In proposed findings and recommendations, U.S. Magistrate Judge Omar J. Aboulhosn denied an emergency application for a restraining order and a request for an expedited preliminary injunction and preliminary bench trial filed by Castro, a write-in candidate for the Republican nomination for president.

In Florida a federal judge dismissed Castrol's case for lack of standing. The judge ruled Castro had no legal basis to complain about another person's running for office. A "generalized interest" in the election outcome is not enough of an injury to invoke the power of the courts.

And then on Oct. 2, the U.S. Supreme Court said it will not take up Castro's longshot challenge, CNN reported.

Also in October, a federal judge dismissed Castro's efforts to remove Trump from the New Hampshire's primary ballot, writing that the challenger made "no attempt to demonstrate that he is actually competing with Trump for votes and contributions."

And Arizona's Secretary of State said he has no choice but to qualify Donald Trump for the state's election ballot, despite challenges that claim he should be disqualified under a law that bans insurrectionists from standing, AZCentral reported Oct. 6. Regarding the argument that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits anyone who has previously taken the oath of public office and engaged in 'insurrection or rebellion' against the government from qualifying for the ballot, the Secretary of State said, "This is an unanswered question. That is up to the courts, not to me."

On Oct. 16, lawyers for former President Trump asked a Michigan Court of Claims judge to dismiss a demand that he be kept off the presidential ballot, the Detroit Free Press reported. 

On Oct. 20, Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace rejected three more attempts by former President Trump and the Colorado GOP to shut down a lawsuit seeking to block him from the 2024 presidential ballot in the state based on the 14th Amendment's "insurrectionist ban," CNN reported.

He still has a pending motion to throw out the Colorado lawsuit, but the case now appears on track for an unprecedented trial Oct. 30.

Wallace also cited a 2012 opinion from Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, when he was a Denver-based appeals judge, which said states have the power to "exclude from the ballot candidates who are constitutionally prohibited from assuming office." She cited this while rejecting Trump's claim that Colorado's ballot access laws don't give state officials any authority to disqualify him based on federal constitutional considerations.

Trump on Oct. 30 sued Michigan's top election official – Jocelyn Benson - to block an effort to disqualify him from appearing on state ballots in the 2024 presidential race.

According to the lawsuit filed with Michigan Chief Appeals Court Judge Elizabeth Gleicher, Trump's lawyers wrote, "The events of January 6, 2021, were a riot. They were not an 'insurrection' for purposes of Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. They did not amount to levying war against the United States."

And back in Colorado where a trial on the matter began Oct. 30, the Associated Press reported, "The videos playing in a Colorado courtroom were both chilling and, by now, familiar — a violent mob, with some wearing tactical gear, smashing through the U.S. Capitol, attacking police officers and chanting 'Hang Mike Pence!'"

Lawyers on day two of the weeklong hearing argued whether the infamous events of Jan. 6, 2021 constituted an insurrection under section three of the 14th Amendment.

The Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed an effort to keep former President Trump off of the state's primary ballot in 2024, NBC News reported Nov. 8.

The court wrote that "there is no state statute that prohibits a major political party from placing on the presidential nomination primary ballot, or sending delegates to the national convention supporting, a candidate who is ineligible to hold office."

And in Michigan, former President Trump's lawyers pushed back in court Nov. 9 against efforts to remove him from the state's 2024 ballot, CNN reported.

Trump lawyer Michael Columbo argued in the Michigan Court of Claims that judges don't have a role enforcing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. "Judicial review, if any, should occur only after the Electoral (College) and congressional processes have run their course," Columbo said, arguing that the challengers want to transform an after-the-fact "Section 3 disqualification into a ballot access qualification."

And on Nov. 14, CNN reported a Michigan judge dismissed the lawsuit.

Michigan Court of Claims Judge James Redford said in his decision that questions about Trump's role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection – and whether it constitutionally bars him from returning to the White House – should be addressed by elected representatives in Congress. He ruled that the matter was a "political question" that shouldn't be decided by the judicial branch. (The Michigan Court of Appeals on Dec. 14 ruled it won't stop Trump from appearing on the state's 2024 Republican primary ballot, turning aside challenges from critics who argue that his role in the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol disqualifies him.)

On Nov. 17, Colorado Judge Sarah Wallace turned away a challenge looking to disqualify Trump from running for president, Politico reported. Judge Wallace found that Trump did engage in an insurrection on January 6, 2021 "through incitement, and that the First Amendment does not protect Trump's speech." But she also found that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment doesn't apply to Trump.

"The Court holds there is scant direct evidence regarding whether the Presidency is one of the positions subject to disqualification," she wrote, ruling that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment "did not intend to include the President as 'an officer of the United States'."

On Dec. 6, U.S. District Judge Douglas L. Rayes of Arizona dismissed a lawsuit by Castro, claiming he lacked standing to bring the claim.

Also on Dec. 6, the Colorado Supreme Court appeared wary of disqualifying former President Trump from the 2024 ballot under the 14th Amendment, with several justices expressing concerns about their authority to intervene, The Hill reported.

Trump and the plaintiffs are both appealing portions of judge Sarah Wallace's Judge Sarah Wallace's ruling last month that found Trump engaged in insurrection by inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, but that the 14th Amendment doesn't apply to the presidency.

The Austin, Texas-based nonprofit Free Speech for People filed a lawsuit in the Oregon Supreme Court seeking to block former President Trump from Oregon's 2024 ballot, the Willamette Week reported Dec. 7. Secretary of State Lavonne Griffin-Valade had earlier considered the matter and, after consultation with lawyers at the Oregon Department of Justice, rejected it.

And in a historic ruling, on Dec. 19, the Colorado Supreme Court voted 4-3 to bar Trump from the 2024 ballot. Trump's lawyers promised to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after Christmas. The disqualification, which was made under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, is related to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. It marks the first time a court has embraced the theory that the former president disqualified himself from a second term by attempting to overturn the 2020 election.

"We do not reach these conclusions lightly," the Colorado court's 4-3 majority wrote. "We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach."

The top Colorado court upheld Judge Wallace's conclusions that the January 6 assault on the US Capitol was an insurrection and that Trump "engaged in" that insurrection. The justices also affirmed the decision that Trump's January 6 speech at the Ellipse was not protected by the First Amendment. The justices broke from Judge Wallace on one key issue, reversing her controversial decision that the "insurrectionist ban" applies to every office except the presidency.

North Carolina's election board dismissed a voter's challenge to Trump's candidacy on the primary ballot, citing a lack of authority to consider the challenge, The Hill reported Dec. 20. The State Board of Elections voted 4-1 to dismiss the candidacy challenge. Elections Board Chair Alan Hirsch made clear that the approved motion did not make any determination on the substance of the argument; rather, it simply claimed the board did not have authority to hear the case.

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit that aimed to keep Donald Trump off ballots in West Virginia, the West Virginia Metro News reported Dec. 22. The case was dismissed because the judge found the plaintiff couldn't demonstrate standing.

The Colorado Republican Party on Dec. 27 appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court the Colorado Supreme Court's earlier decision to ban Trump from the 2024 ballot. With the appeal filed, Trump will be included as a candidate on Colorado's 2024 Presidential Primary Ballot when certification occurs on January 5, 2024, unless the U.S. Supreme Court declines to take the case or otherwise affirms the Colorado Supreme Court ruling.

The Michigan's Supreme Court is keeping former President Trump on the state's primary election ballot, the Associated Press reported. The court said Dec. 27 it will not hear an appeal of a lower court's ruling from groups seeking to keep Trump from appearing on the ballot.

On Dec. 28 California's secretary of state certified Trump for the state's presidential primary ballot, despite calls from the lieutenant governor and top Democrats to remove him because of his involvement with the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. On Jan. 3, 2024 a federal judge in Virginia dismissed a 14th Amendment lawsuit by two residents explaining that the two had no standing in the case. A Wyoming district court judge rejected a motion calling for Trump to be removed from the state's 2024 presidential ballot, on the basis that he is ineligible to serve a second White House term due to the Constitution's 14th Amendment, Newsweek reported Jan. 5.

The New York Daily News in an editorial entitled, "No immunity from justice: Trump doesn't get a pass from federal felonies," commented, "What Trump's lawyers fail to explain, and what we assume the appeals panel — and, soon enough — the Supreme Court justices, will rule is that Trump is being prosecuted for non-official acts. Calling up Georgia's secretary of state to have him find 11,780 more votes and pressuring Michigan election officials to not certify results and summoning a mob are not in any way official acts. Those are crimes, for which Trump must pay."

And on Jan. 5, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider the Colorado Supreme Court's decision to ban Trump from the 2024 ballot.

The Hill reported that Texan John Anthony Castro was arrested Jan. 9 and indicted on federal charges related to an online tax business in which he helped people increase their refunds by allegedly lying to the IRS. Castro is accused of filing 17 sets of false tax documents between 2018 and 2020, resulting in 33 counts of aiding the preparation of false tax returns. In court documents, prosecutors laid out how Castro allegedly used his business to defraud the government.

Maine's highest court refused on Jan. 24 to weigh in on whether Trump should stay on the ballot in the state before the U.S. Supreme Court decides on a similar case in Colorado. Maine's top election official on Dec. 28 had ruled Trump was constitutionally ineligible to appear on ballot. 

The Illinois State Board of Elections voted unanimously Jan.30 to dismiss a challenge to former President Trump's candidacy, but the decision is not expected to be the final word in the matter, with an appeal all but assured, CNN reported.

Former President Trump filed an appeal to overturn a Democrat judge's decision to remove him from the presidential ballot in Illinois, the Daily Wire reported March 1. The appeal was filed after Judge Tracie R. Porter of the State Circuit Court in Cook County ruled Feb. 28 that the State Board of Elections should remove Trump from the ballot, claiming that he engaged in insurrection on January 6. Trump's appeal asked the appeals court to "reverse and vacate the judgement," according to Axios.

The U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to reject attempts to kick former President Trump off the 2024 ballot, the Associated Press reported Feb. 8 just after the court's hearing on the matter.

Conservative and liberal justices alike questioned during arguments whether Trump can be disqualified from being president again because of his efforts to undo his loss in the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden, ending with the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Their main concern was whether Congress must act before states can invoke a constitutional provision that was adopted after the Civil War to prevent former officeholders who "engaged in insurrection" from holding office again. There also were questions about whether the president is covered by the provision.

Trump "Big Lie" fallout:  Dominion sues Fox News for $1.6 billion, settles for $787.5 million and Tucker Carlson's hide

On March 26, 2021 Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, "arguing the cable news giant falsely claimed in an effort to boost faltering ratings that the voting company had rigged the 2020 election," the Associated Press reported. The lawsuit reads, in part, "Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process. If this case does not rise to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing does."

Dominion alleged Fox News was eager to court conservative viewers who were outraged by the network's call on Election Night that candidate Joe Biden would be victorious in Arizona, an early prediction that, while correct, was not initially matched by other news outlets and came under criticism from President Trump. Reports that blamed Dominion and others for influencing the election results, the company argues, served as a potential means of winning back those viewers' favor.

Fox segments included some that alleged fraud by Dominion and others that reported the Dominion voting machines did not, in fact, switch Trump votes to Biden. But Dominion, in its suit, claimed the contradictory segments didn't mitigate the network's culpability. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post explained, "This maddening duality - in which popular opinion hosts promote misinformation while other programs present something closer to reality - is a core feature of the Fox News experience...Dominion's suit, accordingly, focuses instead on establishing that Fox News personalities knew that on-air claims about the company were false." The suit reads, that despite knowing the truth, "Fox continued to promote the known lies on its most prominent and widely viewed broadcasts and on Fox's websites, social media accounts, and subscription service platforms."

On Nov. 10, Bloomberg reported Dominion filed a second lawsuit against Fox Corp. in an effort to gain access to Chairman Rupert Murdoch's documents about its coverage of the contest. Dominion was trying to find out how much Murdoch and his eldest son, Fox Corp. Chief Executive Officer Lachlan Murdoch, were involved in the decision by Fox News to report that Dominion conspired with foreign hackers to flip millions of votes away from then-President Trump. 

Tucker Carlson, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs and Shepard Smith were among the current and former Fox figures questioned under oath in the case as well as show producers and programming executives, court records show.

Dominion CEO John Poulos said Fox News knew allegations against the company being made by former President Trump and his associates following the 2020 election were untrue but decided to air them anyway, The Hill reported Oct. 23, 2022. "We told them. We told them in real time. Others told them. Government officials told them. Partisan government officials told 'em. People inside the Trump administration told them. Um, local election officials on both sides of the aisle told 'em. This is not a matter of not knowing the truth. They knew the truth." 

According to CNN, at the core of Dominion's case against Fox are 20 broadcasts and tweets between Election Day, 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021, including this exchange on Nov. 8, 2020 between Maria Bartiromo and Sidney Powell.

Bartiromo: "Sidney, we talked about the Dominion software. I know that there were voting irregularities. Tell me about that." Powell: "That's to put it mildly. The computer glitches could not and should not have happened at all. That is where the fraud took place where they were flipping votes in the computer system or adding votes that did not exist."

And a month later, on Dec. 12 on "Fox & Friends," Giuliani told the Fox audience, "We have a machine, the Dominion machine, that's as filled with holes as Swiss cheese and was developed to steal elections, and being used in the states that are involved."

The New York Times reported Dec. 21, 2022 that "Fox employees knew what they were broadcasting was false." Sean Hannity was asked under oath during his disposition if he believed the allegations from Trump's lawyers on his show that Dominion machines switched votes from Trump to Biden. "I did not believe it for one second."

Soon after the 2020 election, Tucker Carlson texted his producer in reaction to Fox losing some of its viewers to competing right-wing cable stations after declaring Biden the winner, "Do the executives understand how much credibility and trust we've lost with our audience? We're playing with fire, for real….an alternative like Newsmax could be devastating to us." 

On Nov. 18, Carlson told Laura Ingraham, "Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It's insane." Ingraham replied, "Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy."

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the conservative media empire that owns Fox News, acknowledged in a sworn deposition that several hosts for his networks promoted the false narrative that the election in 2020 was stolen from Trump, the New York Times reported Feb. 27, 2023. Said Murdoch: "I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight."

NBC News reported March 31 that Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis handed Dominion a major win when he agreed that the statements made on Fox News about election fraud in 2020 are false.

The ruling spared the voting machine company from having to litigate baseless conspiracy theories about its role in the 2020 election during the upcoming trial against Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corp.

Judge Davis knocked Fox's "neutral reporting" claim, finding "the evidence does not support that FNN conducted good-faith, disinterested reporting."

The Washington Post reported, "Davis's ruling asserts that the false statements — such as the claim that Dominion was created in Venezuela to rig elections for socialist leader Hugo Chávez — harmed the company's reputation, meaning that the impact on Dominion will not have to be debated at trial."

And then on April 18 Fox agreed to pay Dominion $787.5 million.

(The settlement was the largest media payout in U.S. history, four times the amount ABC paid to Beef Products, Inc. several years ago.)

On MSNBC's "The Last World with Lawrence O'Connell" Sept. 21, Michael Wolff, the author of the new book, The Fall - The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty, reported that hours before the Dominion trial was to begin, a written agreement was reached that Fox would pay Dominion $787.5 million and a verbal agreement was reached that Fox would also fire its #1 rated host, Tucker Carlson. Fox earlier tried to settle with Dominion paying only $500 million and firing Sean Hannity but that was not a steep enough price in Dominion's eyes.

Trump Organization found guilty on 17 counts of tax fraud, other crimes, plus trial notes

On June 30, 2022 the Manhattan District Attorney's office charged the Trump Organization with a 15-year "scheme to defraud" and charged its CFO Allen Weisselberg with grand larceny and tax fraud, the Washington Post reported. 

Prosecutors also charged a subsidiary called Trump Payroll Corp., which handles the company's benefits and payments to employees.

In all, 15 criminal charges were filed against Weisselberg, according to a copy of the indictment obtained by the Washington Post. They included counts of conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records. In many of the counts, the two Trump entities were charged along with Weisselberg.

Carey Dunne, a prosecutor with the District Attorney's Office, said the charges were related to an "off-the-books tax fraud scheme." He said the scheme allowed Trump Organization executives to get "secret pay raises" while not paying proper taxes. "Beginning from at least 2005 to on or about June 30, 2021, [Weisselberg, the Trump Corporation, Trump Payroll Corp.] and others devised and operated a scheme to defraud federal, New York State, and New York City tax authorities," prosecutors wrote. "One of the largest individual beneficiaries of the defendants' scheme was Allen Weisselberg. During the operation of the scheme, the defendants arranged for Weisselberg to receive in direct employee compensation from the Trump Organization in the approximate amount of $1.76 million."

The ex-CFO ducked taxes on about $359,058 in tuition expenses for multiple family members, $196,245 for leases on his Mercedes Benz automobiles, $29,400 in unreported cash, and an unspecified amount in ad hoc personal expenses like new beds, flat-screen televisions, the installation of carpeting, and furniture for his home in Florida, according to the indictment.

And then the New York Times reported Aug. 18, "One of Donald Trump's most trusted executives stood before a judge and pleaded guilty to 15 felonies, admitting that he conspired with Mr. Trump's company to carry out a scheme to avoid paying taxes on lavish perks - even while refusing to implicate the former president himself."

"Under the terms of the plea deal, Mr. Weisselberg is expected to receive a five-month jail term, and with time credited for good behavior, he is likely to serve about 100 days. Mr. Weisselberg, who was facing up to 15 years in prison, must also pay nearly $2 million in taxes."

Weisselberg was sentenced again to five months in jail for lying under oath during the civil business fraud trial of Donald Trump, CNBC reported April 10, 2024.

Trial Notes:

On Oct. 31, 2022 the first day of the trial, Susan Hoffinger, the chief of investigations for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, told the jury that Weisselberg will give the "inside story" of how the company allegedly used the years-long tax fraud scheme to boost executive pay.

"This case is about greed and cheating, cheating on taxes," she said. "The scheme was conducted, directed and authorized at the highest level of the accounting department."

In the opening statements, prosecutors also said that "when most of the criminal conduct occurred," between 2005 to 2017, the companies were "owned by Donald Trump."

The Trump Organization's attorney told the jury that the tax shenanigans "started with Allen Weisselberg and it ended with Allen Weisselberg."

On the second day of the trial, Nov. 1, Bloomberg reported that prosecutors showed the jury the lease Trump signed for of an Upper West Side apartment used by Weisselberg. The lease represented part of the prosecution's efforts to show that the Trump Organization and its executives engaged in a years-long scheme to avoid taxes - one that was sanctioned by the highest echelons of the company.

Trump Organization senior vice president and controller Jeffrey McConney told jurors Trump was the Trump Organization's ultimate decision-maker prior to his election. According to McConney, Trump signed off on Weisselberg's salary and bonuses.

McConney also told jurors he fudged company pay records to reduce Weisselberg's income tax bill.

McConney said Weisselberg told him he and Trump had discussed reducing Weisselberg's salary to offset rent payments that the Trump Organization made on the CFO's Manhattan apartment. Asked whether Trump, who was running the business at the time, was aware of the scheme, McConney said Weisselberg told him that Trump knew about it.

The Trump Organization denied wrongdoing. Its lawyers allege that Weisselberg concocted the scheme on his own, without Trump or the Trump family's knowledge, and that the company didn't benefit from his actions.

According to CBS News, "Weisselberg said Donald Trump, or at times Eric Trump or Donald Trump Jr., signed checks to pay up to $100,000 for private school tuition for Weisselberg's grandchildren. Weisselberg said he then instructed the company's controller to deduct the $100,000 from his salary, allowing him to report a smaller income."

And then Politico reported, "The Trump Organization engaged in an effort to clean up its act and stop fraudulent tax practices to avoid scrutiny when Donald Trump became president, the company's former chief financial officer told the jury.

"He said that he and other executives knew their practices were illegal - and brought them to an end after Trump took office."

On Nov. 18, the New York Post reported that Donald Trump's kids gave Allen Weisselberg a whopping $200,000 raise - instead of punishing him - after discovering his shady tax practices, according to testimony by Weisselberg.

On Dec. 6, the Trump Organization and separate entity the Trump Payroll Corp were found guilty on all 17 counts. The Wall Street Journal reported, "The jury found two Trump Organization corporate entities guilty of all criminal counts they faced, including conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records. The two entities could face a total of more than $1.6 million in fines."

Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty last year to dodging taxes on $1.7 million in job perks, was sentenced to five months in prison and five years of probation, Fox News reported Jan 10, 2023.

He will also be required to pay $2 million in back taxes, interest and penalties.

Trump's company was fined $1.6 million for a scheme in which the former president's top executives dodged personal income taxes on lavish job perks - a symbolic but hardly crippling blow for an enterprise boasting billions of dollars in assets, the Associated Press reported Jan. 13.  

DC Attorney General, Trump Organization settle case over misuse of Inaugural funds

The Trump family business and President Trump's 2017 inauguration committee have jointly agreed to pay $750,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the attorney general for the District of Columbia, who claimed Trump International Hotel in Washington illegally received excessive payments from the Trump inauguration committee, the New York Times reported May 3, 2022.

"The settlement in the civil suit came with no admission of wrongdoing by the Trump Organization, the former president or the inaugural committee."

The Trump Organization will pay $400,000 and the inauguration committee $350,000. All funds will go to two District of Columbia non-profits.

Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said, "After he was elected, one of the first action Donald Trump took was illegally using his own inauguration to enrich his family. We refused to let that corruption stand."

In January, 2020, Racine filed a lawsuit against the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, the Trump Organization and Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. for allegedly abusing nonprofit funds to enrich the Trump family.  In its lawsuit, the Attorney General alleged the Inaugural Committee, a nonprofit corporation, coordinated with the Trump family to grossly overpay for event space in the Trump International Hotel.  Although the Inaugural Committee was aware that it was paying far above market rates, it never considered less expensive alternatives, and even paid for space on days when it did not hold events.

The lawsuit also alleged the 2017 inaugural committee improperly used nonprofit funds to host a private party at the hotel for the Trump family.

Judge dismisses Trump lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, James Comey and others, imposes $1 million fine on Trump, lawyer 

A federal judge has dismissed former President Trump's lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, several ex-FBI officials and more than two dozen other people, CNN reported.

U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks dismissed the lawsuit Sept. 8, 2022 saying "most of Plaintiff's claims are not only unsupported by any legal authority but plainly foreclosed by binding precedent."

"What (Trump's lawsuit) lacks in substance and legal support it seeks to substitute with length, hyperbole, and the settling of scores and grievances," Middlebrooks wrote.

Trump filed the sprawling $24 million civil lawsuit alleging a vast conspiracy to undermine his 2016 presidential campaign and administration with accusations of Russian collusion, The Hill reported March 24, 2022.

Trump's lawsuit alleged RICO violations, injurious falsehood, theft of trade secrets, violations of the Stored Communications Act, and other actions - 16 in total.

"In the run-up to the 2016 Presidential Election, Hillary Clinton and her cohorts orchestrated an unthinkable plot - one that shocks the conscience and is an affront to this nation's democracy," the lawsuit began. It added that the alleged plot was "so outrageous, subversive and incendiary that even the events of Watergate pale in comparison."

A federal judge on Nov. 11, 2022 ordered sanctions against former President Trump's attorneys over their handling of a since-dismissed lawsuit, The Hill reported.

Trump and attorney Alina Habba have appealed the ruling.

On Jan. 20, 2023, Judge Middlebrooks imposed $1 million in sanctions on Trump and his attorneys.

Trump pays nearly $400,000 to New York Times for failed lawsuit, then sues ABC News

Background: Donald Trump has paid $392,000 to The New York Times to cover the legal costs from his failed lawsuit against the newspaper and its journalists over a 2018 investigation into his finances that included confidential tax records, a spokesman for the Times told CNN on Feb. 26, 2024.

Trump was ordered to pay the money in January, more than eight months after Judge Robert R. Reed granted the Times' motion to dismiss the case against it and its journalists, concluding the journalists' conduct was protected by the state's Constitution.

Among the claims that Trump brought against the Times was the accusation that the journalists were liable for "tortious interference" in how they allegedly sought out his niece and caused her to allegedly breach a 2001 settlement contract with the Trump family.

The series, authored by David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner, went on to win the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting.

Last year, the judge said he was dismissing the claim against the Times "because The Times' purpose in reporting on a story of a high public interest constitutes justification as a matter of law."

Presumptive GOP nominee Trump sued ABC News and host George Stephanopoulos for defamation after the ABC News host said several times on air that the former president was "found liable for rape" during a heated March 10 interview with Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C.

Fox News reported March 19 that Mace, a rape survivor, says she felt personally attacked when Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to President Bill Clinton, asked how she could support Trump's White House bid. Stephanopoulos said Trump was found "liable for rape" 10 times during the exchange. The judge set April 7, 2025 for a trial. 

A federal jury in New York decided that Trump was not liable for rape but was liable for sexual abuse and defamation in the 2023 civil trial of advice columnist E. Jean Carroll vs. Trump. The former president has called the verdict a "disgrace," and denied all wrongdoing.

*

Calendar: Trials, hearings, appeals, deadlines and presidential politics

Judge Cannon scheduled a June 21 hearing on Trump's claims that Smith was unlawfully appointed. (See "Trump indicted for refusing to return top-secret government documents; judge drops May 20 trial date")

Fulton County, GA District Attorney Willis has asked the judge to set a deadline of June 21 for Trump and the 14 remaining defendants to negotiate a plea deal. Still no trial date set for the former president. (See "Georgia county grand jury indicts Trump and allies for effort to overturn state election, four plead guilty.")

Judge Cannon will hold a three-day hearing on what had been considered Trump's longshot request for records from the Biden administration, whether Special Counsel Jack Smith was rightfully appointed and whether Trump's motion to dismiss the case is warranted. The hearing will run June 24 - 26. (See "Trump indicted for refusing to return top-secret government documents; judge drops May 20 trial date")

June 27 - First presidential debate, CNN studios in Atlanta (both candidates have accepted)

The Supreme Court is expected make a ruling on the Fischer case by June 30(See, "Trump, Pence don't see "eye to eye" on Jan. 6 violence.")

The Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on the question of whether Trump has lifelong presidential immunity by June 30(See "Federal grand jury indicts Donald Trump for Jan. 6 coup attempt, trial on hold while Supreme Court considers appeal.")

Judge Cannon set the deadline of July 10 for Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) litigation to be filed where Trump and his lawyers will be able to specify which classified information they have obtained from discovery.  (See "Trump indicted for refusing to return top-secret government documents; judge drops May 20 trial date")

Judge Cannon set July 24 for a hearing on Supplemental CIPA. (See "Trump indicted for refusing to return top-secret government documents; judge drops May 20 trial date")

District Attorney Fani Willis has asked a judge to set the start of the trial of former President Trump and his co-defendants August 5. The judge has not made a decision.  (See "Georgia county grand jury indicts Trump and allies for effort to overturn state election, four plead guilty.")

According to CNN, the Trump team must appeal documents in August and argue the case before an appeals court in early September (See "Manhattan grand jury indicts Trump on criminal charges, trial underway.")

Smartmatic is suing Newsmax for defamation. The case is scheduled to go to trial in September(See "More Trump 'Big Lie' fallout: Smartmatic sues Fox News for $2.7 billion, Newsmax and settles with OAN.")

Trump must file appeal after the Sept. 2 start of the court term. (See "New York AG sues Trump for $250 million, judge rules he owes $454 million, Trump pays $175 million to appeal.")

Sept. 5 - Date the Department of Justice' "60-Day Rule" takes effect, which traditionally means the department won't take any prosecutorial steps that could influence an upcoming election.

September 10 - Second presidential debate, ABC news studios (both candidates have accepted)

In late September, Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion lawsuit against Newsmax will go on trial. In 2020-21, the pro-Trump network broadcast interviews with Trump allies in which they alleged Dominion "has a long history of rigging elections," its software "altered and flipped" votes in the 2020 election, and that the "entire election was hacked" in Biden's favor. Newsmax in 2024 is broadcasting rebuttals to Trump's continuing claims of 2020 election fraud.

On approximately Sept. 26, Trump can sell his shares in Truth Social for billions of dollars. (See "Truth Social, Trump's go-to platform, completes successful merger, lawsuits fly.")

Fanis Willis is expected to run for re-election as the Fulton County district attorney on Nov 5. Former President Trump is expected to run for re-election nationally on the same day.

November 5 - Election Day

Smartmatic in its suit against Fox News for $2.7 billion in damages is expected to go to trial in early 2025. (See "More Trump 'Big Lie' fallout: Smartmatic sues Fox News for $2.7 billion, Newsmax and settles with OAN.")

The judge has set April 7, 2025 as the start of the Trump v. ABC News defamation trial. (See "Trump pays nearly $400,000 to Times for failed lawsuit, sues ABC News.")

*

News and commentary sources used in blog (168)*

ABC News       ABC News Channel 7 (New York)       AdWeek      

AlterNet       American Media Inc.    Arizona Mirror     Arizona Republic       

Asheville Citizen Times      Associated Press      Atlanta Journal-Constitution      

Atlantic, The       Atlanta Daily World News    AXIOS       AZCentral       

BBC     Benzinga       Blast, The     Bloomberg News       

Bloomberg Law      Breitbart News     Bridge Michigan       

Bulwark, The      Business Insider      Buzzfeed

CBS News      Channel 2 Action News (Atlanta)     Charleston Post & Courier      

Check Your Fact     Chicago Tribune    Colorado Public Radio       CNBC        CNN       

Commentary    Courthouse News Service       Daily Beast, The    Daily Caller, The      

Daily Kos       DailyMail.com         Daily Signal    Daily Wire    DC News Now       Deadline.com

Democracy Docket     Denver Post   Detroit Free-Press      Detroit Metro Times    

Detroit News      11Alive (Atlanta)       Election Law Blog      Federalist, The

Financial Times      Forbes      Fox 10 (Phoenix)    Fox Business        Fox News      

Fox News Digital    Fox News Sunday     Free Beacon     Government Executive       

GPB News     Guardian, The     Hill, The     Hollywood Reporter     Hot Air     Huffington Post

Independent, The      Insider      Intercept, The      

InTouch      InvestorPlace      Iowa Capital Dispatch

Jezebel       Just Security        Kansas City Star     KPNX-TV (Phoenix)    

Law & Crime     Law.com    Law 360       LawFare 

Los Angeles Times     Maddow Blog       MarketWatch          Mashable 

Mediaite    Media Matters     MeidasTouch Network     Messenger, The     

Michigan Advance      Michigan Live     Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Mother Jones     MSNBC     National Enquirer     National Memo, The    

National Review Online     NBC News     Nevada Globe     Nevada Independent

Newsmax       Newsweek     New Republic, The

The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina)     New York Daily News    New Yorker, The    

New York Magazine     New York Post      New York Times         NPR         Occupy Democrats       

Onion, The       OpenSecrets       Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project        

Page Six     PBS NewsHour       People

Philadelphia Inquirer      Pittsburgh Post-Gazette        Political Wire     

Politico       Politifact         Portland Press Herald       PUCK        RadarOnline.com    

Real Money     Reuters     Rolling Stone     Salon     

Salt Lake Tribune    San Antonio Express-News      Sarasota Herald-Tribune      

Semafor       SFGate        SiriusXM         60 Minutes Australia       Slate       St. Louis Post-Dispatch     

Stock Dork, The       Talking Points Memo       Tampa Bay Times     TechCrunch.com  

Texarkana Gazette      Texas Tribune       TheStreet

Times of San Diego     TMZ     TrendyDigests         Truth Social

Urban Milwaukee    UPI News     USA Today    U.S. News & World Report      Variety

Vice News     Vox.com      Wall Street Journal     Washingtonian Magazine

Washington Examiner     Washington Post

Washington Times     The Week       West Virginia Metro News    Wikipedia 

Willamette Week     WISN 12 (Milwaukee)     WJCL (Savannah, GA)

WNBC (New York)        WRAL       Wrap, The       WSB-TV (Atlanta)       

WUSA9 (Washington, DC)      WXIA (Atlanta)   Yahoo Finance     Yahoo News  

* The blog thanks the reporters and publishers of the media listed above for their professionalism and dedication to a free press in America.

Trump's Legal Problems - Political Blog
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