Is Trump going to be arrested? Answers to questions about the former president’s legal troubles
Donald Trump set an unenviable record while occupying the White House, becoming the first president to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives.
His legal troubles have only mounted since then.
On Saturday, Trump said on his social media network Truth Social that he will be arrested Tuesday in connection with a case brought by Manhattan Dist. Atty. Alvin Bragg. The former president cited “illegal leaks” out of Bragg’s office as the source of his information; his attorney later said there’s been no formal notice from the prosecutor, and Bragg declined to comment.
Bragg has been presenting a criminal case against Trump to a grand jury in Manhattan, which met Monday to hear from a witness offered by Trump’s attorneys — a sign that the jury’s work is almost done and that an indictment could be imminent. Trump has declined an invitation to testify.
That’s just one of several legal cases Trump is facing. Here’s a rundown of what’s happening now, as well as other looming problems for the former president.
Why are New York City prosecutors investigating Trump?
Because Trump was accused of violating state law while in New York in 2016, when he was running for president.
One of Trump’s former attorneys, Michael Cohen, admitted in federal court that he paid $130,000 to a porn star, Stormy Daniels, shortly before the 2016 election to keep her from talking about an affair she says she had with Trump. Cohen also admitted in court papers that Trump’s New York City-based real estate business reimbursed him the following year but disguised the payments as a large monthly retainer.
Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels and paying her to stay quiet. One of his lawyers has accused her of extorting money from him.
Is there a statute of limitations?
There is, but the time limit was extended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the clock stops when the defendant spends an extended amount of time away from New York, as Trump did while he was in the White House.
Does this have anything to do with the 2020 election?
No. These accusations relate to the 2016 election, which Trump won.
Isn’t Cohen a convicted liar?
Yes. In 2018, he pleaded guilty to lying to a bank about his debts in order to obtain a $500,000 home equity line of credit. He also pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion and, in connection to the hush money payments, two campaign finance law violations.
Who is Alvin Bragg?
Harvard-educated Bragg is the first Black district attorney for the borough of Manhattan, elected in 2021. Before that, he spent years as an attorney and prosecutor for the New York City Council and the state and federal governments.
Among other cases he has worked over the years, he oversaw the lawsuit by the New York attorney general that accused Trump’s charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, of illegally acting as an arm of Trump’s 2016 campaign. (The foundation dissolved in the wake of the suit.) Bragg also helped obtain the indictment of former Trump advisor Stephen K. Bannon on fraud charges for allegedly diverting donations that were supposed to be used to build a wall on the Mexican border. (Bannon also faced federal charges connected with the fundraising, but Trump, on his last day in office, pardoned him.)
Didn’t Bragg already prosecute Trump?
No. New York prosecutors charged Trump’s business and payroll company with criminal tax fraud, winning convictions in December. Previously, they obtained guilty pleas from the Trump Organization’s longtime financial chief, Allen Weisselberg, on felonies related to the scheme.
Shortly after Bragg took office in 2022, he appeared to put the brakes on a criminal investigation into Trump’s business practices that had begun under his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr. Two prosecutors working on the probe — which explored whether Trump assigned fraudulent values to his properties when seeking loans, among other allegations — resigned in apparent protest.
What about New York state prosecutors?
The state attorney general, Letitia James, in September filed suit against Trump and several of his family members and businesses, as well as Weisselberg, accusing them of fraudulently inflating Trump’s net worth on official financial filings. The point of the scheme, the lawsuit alleges, was to help Trump obtain loans and insurance policies on better terms.
This a civil case seeking financial penalties, not a criminal case seeking jail terms. But James referred the matter to the IRS and the Justice Department for possible criminal charges, alleging that Trump violated federal laws against fraud and making false statements to financial institutions.
Isn’t Merrick Garland prosecuting Trump?
Not at this point.
U.S. Atty. Gen. Garland appointed a special counsel to lead the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Trump violated federal law by keeping some classified documents after leaving the presidency. The special counsel, Jack Smith, is also examining Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The much-publicized FBI search (or “raid,” in Trump’s parlance) last year at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate related to the classified documents case.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing there or in connection to the events of Jan. 6.
Who else is pursuing charges against Trump?
One case that has made headlines is the investigation by a Fulton County, Ga., grand jury into an alleged attempt to interfere with the 2020 presidential election. This case revolves around post-election efforts by Trump and his supporters to reverse the outcome in Georgia, where Joe Biden narrowly won. Fulton County Dist. Atty. Fani Willis has not yet acted on the recommendations from the grand jury, which called for multiple indictments.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing in this case as well.
If indicted in New York, could Trump be arrested and extradited?
Yes. Article IV of the Constitution requires states to hand over suspected criminals wanted for trial in other states, although defendants can slow the process by challenging it in court.
New York requires defendants to appear in person to be booked, so legal experts predicted that Trump would fly to New York and appear voluntarily.
Would being arrested affect Trump’s ability to serve as president?
No. Even if he were convicted and sent to prison, Trump could serve as president — the U.S. Constitution requires only that a president be at least 35 years old, a “natural born citizen” and a resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years.
Any criminal charges against Trump would certainly affect his campaign. And if he were imprisoned, winning the 2024 election wouldn’t automatically cut short his sentence.
It’s unclear how he would be able to discharge the duties of his office from a prison cell, which means the 25th Amendment could come into play. Under that, a president can hand off his duties temporarily to the vice president if he cannot perform them himself, or the duties can be taken from him if the vice president and a majority of the top executive branch officials vote to do so.
Once in office, Trump could not be removed unless the House impeached him (for a third time) and the Senate convicted him (for the first time).
By the way, the Constitution doesn’t say whether the “high crimes and misdemeanors” required for impeachment can occur before a president takes office. In fact, it leaves it to Congress to decide what acts constitute impeachable offenses and when they must have occurred.
What has been the reaction from Trump and his supporters?
Trump issued a plea Saturday on Truth Social for his supporters to protest Tuesday, prompting Bragg to issue an internal memo saying, “We do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York.” Even staunch Trump allies such as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) urged supporters not to protest.
Three other Trump allies in the House, however, have demanded that Bragg testify before their committees, as soon as possible. The trio — Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), James Comer (R-Ky.) and Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), who head the House Judiciary, Oversight and Administration committees, respectively — suggested that the investigation was politically motivated and would interfere with next year’s presidential election, while also eroding the public’s confidence in “the evenhanded application of justice.”
Other Republicans echoed the accusation that Bragg’s investigation was political. Among them was a likely Trump rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
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