Donald Trump this year became the first U.S. President to be indicted in the nation’s 234-year history—and has since broken that record three more times.
He has now been charged in four separate criminal cases related to his business and political activities, bringing his total criminal charges to date to 91. The cases are expected to play out over the coming months, setting up a long string of legal battles that will overlap with next year’s presidential primaries as Trump runs for President again in 2024.
In New York, Trump faces 34 felony counts over allegations that he falsified business records to conceal hush-money payments to a porn star. He’s also facing 40 felony counts in Florida for allegedly hoarding classified documents and obstructing the government’s efforts to retrieve them, and four counts in Washington related to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Most recently, the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga. charged Trump with 13 felony counts in connection to his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election result in that state.
Here is a guide to Trump’s criminal cases and where they stand.
Georgia election interference case
Fani Willis, the Fulton County District Attorney, began investigating Trump in early 2021 after a recording was released of the former President asking Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" 11,780 votes—one more than the margin of his loss in the decisive swing state. Raffensperger refused. At the time of the call on Jan. 2, 2021, Georgia officials had already counted the votes three times, won multiple lawsuits over the outcome, and debunked extravagant fraud claims by Trump's team. At each turn, Joe Biden’s victory was confirmed. Trump has said he did nothing wrong, describing the phone call with Raffensperger as “absolutely perfect.”
The Fulton County investigation expanded to other alleged efforts by Trump and his allies, including the breach of voting data in Georgia’s rural Coffee County, the targeted abuse and harassment of state election workers, and the orchestrated attempt to send alternate electors slates to Congress to undermine the will of the voters.
On Aug. 14, Trump was charged with 13 counts in the Georgia election interference case, including violating state racketeering laws and soliciting a public official to violate his oath of office, conspiring to commit forgery in the first degree, conspiring to file false documents, and making false statements.
The indictment accuses 19 named defendants of criminal wrongdoing, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and legal adviser Sidney Powell, and contains a total of 41 state-law felony charges. They collectively face a gamut of different charges but are all being prosecuted under the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO. That law has typically been used to prosecute members of the mob and allows prosecutors to bundle together disparate crimes if those crimes are perceived to be in support of a common objective.
After investigating Trump and his allies for nearly two years, Willis spent this summer presenting her evidence to a grand jury, which approved a 98-page indictment in August. Trump was booked at the Fulton County Jail on Aug. 24 but avoided having to wait behind bars by negotiating a $200,000 bail agreement in advance of his court appearance. Willis has asked the court to hold his arraignment the week of Sept. 5. The trial date will then be set by the presiding judge, who already scheduled an Oct. 23 trial for one of the co-defendants.
Fulton County Superior Court judge Scott McAfee is overseeing the Georgia case brought against Trump and 18 others. The judge was appointed to the bench in February by Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp after previously serving as inspector general for the state from 2021 to 2023. In June, McAfee fined pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood $5,000 in contempt of court for violating a non-disparagement injunction.
Jan. 6 election case
Federal prosecutors led by special counsel Jack Smith have accused Trump of trying to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election to falsely claim victory. The investigation into his efforts to remain in power after losing the election follows the work of the House Select Committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, which voted in December 2022 to refer Trump and his attorney John Eastman to the Justice Department for prosecution.
Smith's prosecutors have alleged that Trump repeatedly lied about voter fraud, urged Republican state officials to undermine the results in states that Joe Biden won, assembled false slates of electors, and pressured Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally reject the election results. The wide-ranging effort to hold onto power reached a crescendo on Jan. 6, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and disrupted the Electoral College certification.
A Washington grand jury voted to indict Trump on Aug. 1, 2023 after hearing months of testimony from his former aides and Administration officials, including Pence. Trump has been charged with four crimes in the investigation, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstructing an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights in connection to alleged attempts to oppress citizens in their right to vote in an election.
In the 45-page indictment, the Justice Department accused Trump of repeatedly lying about election malfeasance even though he knew those claims were false. It alleges that multiple administration officials told him there was no widespread fraud that would have changed the election outcome, including Pence, senior DOJ officials, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, and senior White House attorneys.
The indictment also details private phone calls in the days before the Jan. 6 attack between Trump and Pence, who took “contemporaneous notes” of the conversations, according to the indictment. In one of them, Trump allegedly told his Vice President he was “too honest" after Pence said he didn’t have the authority to reject the election results. By the time Trump’s efforts to override the election had culminated on Jan. 6, the indictment alleges, Trump exploited the violence refusing to approve a message directing rioters to leave the building. Yet even after the crowd dispersed hours later, Trump would not relinquish his claims that the election was rigged. “The White House counsel called the defendant to ask him to withdraw any objections and allow the certification,” the indictment says. “The defendant refused.”
Trump has not yet appeared in court to enter a plea, but he's expected to plead not guilty. In a Truth Social post published shortly before the DOJ announced the charges, Trump called the indictment “fake” and accused Smith of trying to “interfere” with the 2024 election.
Trump was summoned for his initial court appearance in the case on Aug. 3 before a magistrate judge in Federal District Court in Washington and will make another court appearance on Aug. 28. A trial date has not yet been set, though prosecutors asked the judge to start the trial on Jan. 2, just before the first caucus votes are cast in Iowa.
U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan was assigned to oversee Trump’s case in Washington. Appointed by former President Barack Obama, Chutkan has emerged as one of the toughest jurists in cases against Jan. 6 rioters and has previously squelched an effort by Trump to use executive privilege to withhold White House communications from the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot. “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President,” Chutkan said in her November 2021 ruling. Chutkan will have broad authority over both the pace of the proceedings and a slew of pretrial litigation, such as what information can be admitted as evidence.
Classified documents case
In the other investigation run by Smith’s team, federal prosecutors have accused Trump of violating the Espionage Act by illegally holding on to 31 classified documents containing national defense information after he left the White House in January 2021. Prosecutors also charged Trump and two others with a conspiracy to obstruct the government’s repeated attempts to reclaim the classified material from his Mar-a-Lago resort, where the documents were stored haphazardly. Smith's team claimed that Trump directed Walt Nauta, one of his personal aides, to move boxes so the FBI and Trump’s own lawyer would not discover some of the classified material. Prosecutors say that Trump showed classified documents to individuals who were not authorized to view them on at least two occasions. One of the meetings during which Trump allegedly showed off a classified Pentagon document about attacking Iran was captured in an audio recording, and Trump can be heard rustling paper and describing the material as a secret. “As President, I could have declassified, but now I can't,” he said. The classified documents that Trump allegedly took included White House intelligence briefings, communications with foreign leaders, assessments of U.S. and foreign countries' military capabilities, and reports on military activities, prosecutors say.
Trump faces 40 felony counts in the classified documents case, of which 32 are related to willful retention of national defense information in violation of the Espionage Act, while the remaining are related to obstructing justice and making false statements. Under the Espionage Act, it is a crime to retain records containing sensitive national security information.
Trump was charged—along with Nauta—on June 9, and pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in Miami four days later. (Nauta also pleaded not guilty to his charges.) Smith’s team unveiled a superseding indictment on July 27 adding three new felonies against Trump and two new felony charges against Nauta, as well as a third defendant: Carlos De Oliveira, a Mar-a-Lago employee who is accused of engaging in a plot to delete security footage after the government issued a subpoena for it. De Oliveira made his first court appearance on July 31 and was released on a $100,000 personal surety bond.
Trump will stand trial in the classified documents case on May 20, 2024 in Fort Pierce, Florida.
The Justice Department opened its investigation into Trump’s retention of classified documents in early 2022, followed by an FBI search of his resort that yielded 102 documents with classified markings. Special counsel Smith was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in November 2022 to lead the investigation.
The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee who has a history of issuing rulings that are favorable to Trump. Last year, she allowed a special master to review evidence seized from Mar-a-Lago in the classified records probe—an order that was later reversed by a three-judge federal appeals panel. As the judge, Cannon will have the authority to determine whether information obtained from Trump’s lawyers can be admitted as evidence. The trial date Cannon set in May is a compromise between the prosecutors' wish for December 2023 and Trump's lawyers' request to postpone it until after the 2024 election.
Trump has been accused of falsifying business records in connection with hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress who claimed she had a sexual encounter with him before the 2016 presidential election. The payments allegedly were made to keep her from speaking publicly about the affair in the final weeks of Trump’s presidential campaign. Prosecutors allege that Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney and “fixer” at the time, paid $130,000 to Daniels in October 2016. Once in the White House, Trump then allegedly reimbursed Cohen in a series of installment payments processed by Trump’s business, which prosecutors say were fraudulently disguised as corporate legal expenses in violation of New York law.
The charges against Trump in the hush-money case, brought on April 3, include 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. Under New York law, falsifying business records is usually a misdemeanor but it can become a felony when there is an “intent to defraud” that includes an intent to “commit another crime or to aid or conceal” another crime. Prosecutors will have to prove that Trump is guilty of maintaining false business records with the intent to hide a $130,000 payment in the days before the 2016 election to cover up an alleged 2006 affair. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought the charges, has said that the alleged scheme was intended to cover up violations of New York election law, which makes it a crime to conspire to illegally promote a candidate. He also said the $130,000 payment exceeded the federal campaign contribution cap. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
A trial is scheduled for March 25, 2024, roughly one year after a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Trump. The former President turned himself into authorities in April and was processed as a criminal defendant, marking the first time in American history that a current or former U.S. President was charged with a crime. Trump had sought to move the case to federal court, but a federal judge ruled in July that the case will remain in state court. Prosecutors and Trump’s defense team are currently engaged in pretrial evidentiary issues.
New York Supreme Court Justice Juan M. Merchan, who oversaw the jury that indicted Trump in the hush-money case, is also presiding over the criminal proceedings that will follow. The two already have some history: Merchan oversaw the five-week tax fraud trial of Trump’s family real estate business, the Trump Organization, which ended in December with a conviction and $1.6 million in fines. Trump has previously lashed out at Merchan on social media, declaring that the judge “HATES ME.”
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