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When Donald Trump was president, his lawyers repeatedly claimed that presidential immunity shielded him from civil litigation unrelated to his official duties, among other legal actions. Court after court rejected that position, with various judges ruling “no one is above the law” – though his numerous appeals delayed litigation.
Trump is out of the White House, paving the way for legal action against him to continue in earnest. Here are some of the top legal proceedings involving Trump.
Manhattan grand jury
On 25 May, the Washington Post reported that Manhattan prosecutors had “convened the grand jury that is expected to decide whether to indict former president Donald Trump, other executives at his company or the business itself, should prosecutors present the panel with criminal charges”.
Vance’s office is exploring whether the valuation of any real estate in his company was gamed to cheat insurers or banks, and whether any value manipulation enabled illegal tax breaks. The New York attorney general has also intensified its inquiry from a civil investigation, saying: “We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.”
E Jean Carroll
Advice columnist E Jean Carroll, who has alleged that Trump raped her in the mid-1990s, sued him in November 2019 after he denied the allegations. Trump claimed that Carroll had fabricated the allegation to sell her book, and remarked: “She’s not my type.”
The US Department of Justice, which is representing Trump, had claimed that he should be considered a regular federal employee and that his statements fell within the parameters of his employment. As such, the DoJ contended, Trump was protected by the “Federal Tort Claims Act” – meaning its lawyers could represent him.
The judge in the case did not agree that Trump was a regular federal worker, nor that these statements were part of his work. The DoJ appealed against this ruling before Biden assumed office. Roberta Kaplan, who represents Carroll, said they are “confident” the appeals court will rule in their favor and that the case will ultimately be set for trial.
Former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos claimed in October 2016 that Trump groped her. Trump, who was on the campaign trail at the time of these allegations, said that her claims were false and fabricated. Zervos filed suit against him in 2017, saying his denials defamed her.
Trump had tried to halt the case, citing presidential protection from the legal action. Trump’s legal team appealed to New York’s highest court after suffering prior legal defeats related to the immunity issue. On 30 March, the court ultimately rejected this appeal, saying “the issues presented have become moot” given that he is no longer president. This enables Zervos’s lawsuit to proceed.
According to multiple reports, Georgia prosecutors are investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results. Fani Willis, Fulton county district attorney, asked state officials to preserve documents, such as documentation involving Trump’s call to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, urging him to “find” more ballots in his favor.
The letter said that “particular care” needed to be “given to set aside and preserve those that may be evidence of attempts to influence the actions of persons who were administering that election”, Reuters quoted the 10 February correspondence as saying.