What investigations is former President Trump facing?
From probes into his businesses and his role in efforts to overturn election results to possible violations of the Espionage Act, Trump is under intense legal scrutiny
When former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty on Thursday to 15 felonies related to his role in a yearslong tax fraud scheme, he joined a growing cast of associates of former President Donald Trump who are facing significant criminal charges.
Trump himself is the subject of several federal, state and local investigations of varying scopes and severity. If you’re having trouble keeping up, here’s a breakdown of the latest developments in Trump’s legal and political probes.
The FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago
The investigation represents the greatest potential vulnerability for Trump. The search warrant approved by Attorney General Merrick Garland shows the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago for evidence of violations of the Espionage Act.
The affidavit used to justify the warrant is still confidential, but on Thursday a federal magistrate said he is open to releasing a redacted version of the affidavit to the public.
A related court filing unsealed on Thursday shows the investigation includes possible offenses of “willful retention of national defense information,” “concealment or removal of government records” and “obstruction of federal investigation.”
Weisselberg and the Trump Organization
Weisselberg, who has worked for the Trump Organization for 40 years, pleaded guilty to 15 felonies in a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization being conducted by the Manhattan district attorney. He also admitted he didn’t pay taxes on $1.7 million in income, which came in the form of perks such as a Manhattan apartment, two Mercedes-Benz cars and private school tuition for his grandchildren, The Associated Press reported.
As part of the plea deal, Weisselberg will pay almost $2 million in back taxes and has agreed to testify against Trump’s company in a trial. Weisselberg will be sentenced to five months in New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex — assuming he meets the requirements of the plea deal — and will remain free on bail until he is formally sentenced following the company’s trial.
The company faces similar charges of tax fraud and could be forced to repay double the amount of unpaid taxes.
The Trump Organization said Weisselberg was a good employee who has been “persecuted and threatened by law enforcement, particularly the Manhattan district attorney, in their never-ending, politically motivated quest to get President Trump.”
Civil investigation into Trump Organization
In addition to the criminal case, the Trump Organization is also the subject of a civil investigation by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Trump is under suspicion of fraudulently inflating the value of his hotels and other properties in order to obtain loans.
In court filings, James accused Trump of — among other things — claiming he owned seven mansions worth $161 million, even though the homes had never been built.
Trump has cast the investigation as politically motivated, and invoked the Fifth Amendment hundreds of times in a deposition with James last week.
Georgia election interference case
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Wallis is investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results. Prosecutors have notified Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former attorney and former New York City mayor, that he is a target of their investigation, along with 16 Trump supporters who fraudulently signed an “unofficial electoral certificate” in an effort to cast Georgia’s 16 electoral votes for Trump.
Giuliani testified in private before a grand jury on Wednesday. The grand jury will hear testimony from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. — another close Trump ally — next week.
Justice Department examining broader efforts to overturn election
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election, including a desperate plan to use “fake electors” to block the certification of President Joe Biden’s win.
In July, two top aides to former Vice President Mike Pence testified to a grand jury, making them the highest-ranking administration officials to talk with DOJ investigators.
House Jan. 6 Committee
The House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection concluded its summer series of public hearings last month, laying out a never-before-seen narrative about Trump’s actions leading up to Jan. 6. Revelations show Trump wrestled with the wording of his remarks given during the riot, and that he allegedly tried to grab the steering wheel from a Secret Service officer who refused to take him to the Capitol that day.
The committee continues its investigation, and is expected to hold further hearings starting in September, per NPR.
Other legal issues
Prominent Trump allies also are facing a variety of lawsuits, many of them stemming from their efforts to cast doubt on or overturn the 2020 election results:
- MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell was ordered by a judge to pay some legal fees that Smartmatic, a maker of voting machines, incurred while defending against a lawsuit filed by Lindell. The judge said Lindell’s claims about Smartmatic’s machines were “groundless” and fall “on the frivolous side of the line.”
- Dominion Voting Systems filed a lawsuit for $1.6 billion against the Fox Corp. for baseless allegations, promulgated by Fox News hosts such as Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro, that Dominion’s technology is intentionally inaccurate. If successful, Dominion’s suit could have far-reaching consequences for the future of Fox News, as well as other media companies that regularly promote falsehoods and conspiracy theories.
- Dominion also filed defamation lawsuits against Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell — members of Trump’s legal team — for similar claims they made about voter fraud and Dominion’s systems.