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The Senate may have acquitted President Trump in his second impeachment trial, but his legal problems are far from over. CBS News legal expert and analyst Rikki Klieman joined CBSN to break down the issues the former president is likely to face.
ERROL BARNETT: Republicans are trying to figure out what's next after many of them refused to convict former President Trump in his second impeachment trial. Just seven Republicans voted with Democrats to convict the former president of inciting the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill. Some have already faced backlash from within the party. The 57 guilty votes made this trial the most bipartisan impeachment in US history. But it was still 10 senators shy to prevent Mr. Trump from running again in 2024.
Members of the GOP are scrambling now to decide how the former president should factor into the party's future. And among those trying to influence that outcome is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He did not join his colleagues in voting to convict the former president. However, the GOP Leader is attempting to distance Republicans by condemning Mr. Trump's actions.
MITCH MCCONNELL: President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.
ERROL BARNETT: Now, it is not clear right now whether the former president will face criminal or civil charges for the January 6 riot. However, his legal troubles are far from over. Take a look at this, just a handful of the legal problems the former president faces. Fulton County, Georgia is investigating his call with the Georgia Secretary of State. In that call, he asked Brad Raffensperger to, quote, "find votes" to overturn his loss to President Biden.
Prosecutors in New York have opened criminal and civil probes against the Trump organization. And Mr. Trump faces defamation suits from two women who claim he sexually assaulted them. CBS News Legal Expert and Analyst Rikki Klieman joins us now from Hampton Bays in New York to speak about what could be next.
Rikki, always good to see you. We mentioned some of the cases the former president now faces. What kind of charges could those investigations lead to, and how do you see those cases progressing?
RIKKI KLIEMAN: I'm going to start with New York, because it has been going on the longest. New York has criminal investigation by the district attorney in New York County, which is Cy Vance. And that is Manhattan. He is dogged, determined. He's highly ethical. And he has been looking into allegations of tax fraud, bank fraud, insurance fraud. This all began, back at the time-- which seems like ancient history now-- of the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal as hush money.
But that investigation by Cy Vance has blossomed into a major look at Donald Trump's personal finances and the finances of the Trump organization. They are engaged, these two litigants, with Cy Vance, going all the way up and back to the United States Supreme Court for Cy Vance to get about eight years of tax returns. That's what he's waiting on now. Whether he's going to hold off until he gets everything or go forward sooner, that remains to be seen.
The civil investigation by Letitia James, the attorney general in New York, she is looking at what Michael Cohen testified to before Congress. That is the fact that Michael Cohen says, in essence, the Trump organization kept two sets of books. When they wanted loans, they inflated the value of their properties. When they wanted to pay taxes-- or had to pay taxes-- they deflated the value. So that's New York. That's moving apace.
Meanwhile, the case I say to what is in the District of Georgia, which is called Fulton County, that surrounds Atlanta. We have a new district attorney there. She is highly aggressive. She is determined to look into not only that infamous phone call in January by Donald Trump to the Secretary of State, Fred Raffensperger, but she's determined to look at the entire panoply of calls and other interference.
And what she's looking at in terms of the law is what we call solicitation to commit election fraud conspiracy, to commit election fraud, and the intentional interference with the lawful duties of someone involved in the election system. Those could be felonies. Those could be misdemeanors, depending on how they charge.
But Errol, the thing to really see if she is going to go for the gusto-- she is unafraid of going forth with a racketeering prosecution, because she's done that already with educators. So will she go that far with a former president and his associates? That is, Lindsey Graham, Rudy Giuliani, and others. Well, that remains to be seen. But my eyes are looking wide at the month of March.
ERROL BARNETT: That's pretty incredible. We've talked about New York and Georgia. But we haven't mentioned Washington, DC. Federal prosecutors there have said no one's above the law when it comes to investigating the January 6 terror attack, including Mr. Trump himself. Do you anticipate any charges being laid out there stemming from the impeachment trial specifically?
RIKKI KLIEMAN: [AUDIO OUT] But it's a highly political calculus, as well as a legal calculus. You have a local prosecutor there who deals with municipal ordinances. And he has made some noise that he would like to charge the president with a misdemeanor for the inciting of violence.
I think if we get to that level, we're looking fairly petty, that we should not be dealing with a misdemeanor charge to get a president, Former President Trump back to Washington. You couldn't do that by trying to extradite him on a misdemeanor.
So what are we really looking at in Washington? Well, Merrick Garland, it is assumed, will be confirmed as the new attorney general. He has to decide, not only based on the investigation and the law, if he should go forward with charges as serious as the incitement to insurrection, which would carry a 10-year count-- that's what we call inciting riot-- or if he should go all the way to a seditious conspiracy, which is a 20-year count.
But what he has to consider also is the political calculus. Joe Biden is very clear. He is going to be independent from the Department of Justice. That is, Merrick Garland as the attorney general will make these decisions on his own, with, of course, conversations within the Department of Justice. Merrick Garland is not going to be beholden to the moods, the whims, the ideas of the White House, as we have seen in the last four years.
Well, does Merrick Garland really want to put a former president in the oldest living republic, democracy that we have in the United States of America? That's a mighty big decision indeed-- so political plus legal. The question is really wide open.
But it's a situation where Merrick Garland doesn't live in a cave. He has been here. He knows what Joe Biden has said in the press about democracy does not go after its past opponents and throw them in jail, as they would in a banana republic. So does that enter his mind? I'm sure he cannot divorce himself from that sentiment.
ERROL BARNETT: Certainly no shortage of angles into the post-presidency life of Donald Trump. Rikki Klieman, thank you so much.
RIKKI KLIEMAN: Great to see you, Errol.