What to know about 4 criminal investigations into former President Donald Trump
As former President Donald Trump pushes forward with his 2024 campaign, incidents from before, during and after his term in office are under intense legal scrutiny, most notably in New York, where a grand jury has voted to indict him.
Here's where four investigations, led by two state prosecutors and a federal special counsel, stand:
The Manhattan "hush money" probe
A New York grand jury investigating the circumstances surrounding a "hush money" payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016 has voted to indict Donald Trump, making him the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges.
The specific charge or charges have not yet been made public and the indictment remains under seal. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office said more guidance would be provided "when the arraignment date is selected."
The case stems from a payment made just days before Trump was elected president in 2016. His former attorney, Michael Cohen, arranged a wire transfer of $130,000 to Daniels in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair. Prosecutors were believed to be investigating potential falsification of business records related to reimbursements made to Cohen. Trump has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels, and vehemently denied wrongdoing in this case.
In recent weeks, a steady stream of former Trump employees and White House staffers were seen entering Bragg's offices, including Trump's former White House counselor and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, former director of strategic communications Hope Hicks, and his former lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen.
Cohen, who went to prison on federal charges related to the $130,000 payment to Daniels, has met repeatedly with prosecutors this year — more than a half dozen times since mid-January. He appeared before the grand jury twice.
In his memoir "Disloyal," Cohen described a intense effort in October 2016 — just before the presidential election — to prevent the actress from speaking publicly about an alleged affair with Trump. Ultimately, Cohen wired the money through a newly-created limited liability company, and both Cohen and Daniels have claimed she and Trump signed a non-disclosure agreement using the aliases David Dennison and Peggy Peterson.
Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing in connection with the payment, and in recent days has lashed out the Manhattan investigation, led by D.A. Alvin Bragg, calling it "a political Witch-Hunt." Upon learning of his indictment, he said in a statement that it was "Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history," and accused Democrats of "weaponizing our justice system to punish a political opponent, who just so happens to be a President of the United States."
"The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to 'Get Trump,' but now they've done the unthinkable — indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant Election Interference," Trump said.
The Fulton County, Georgia, election meddling investigation
The Fulton County District Attorney's Office's investigation into Trump's conduct following the 2020 election began in February 2021 — spurred by an infamous recorded Jan. 2, 2021, phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump pressed him "to find 11,780 votes."
The probe grew in size and scope over the next two years, ultimately leading to the creation of a special purpose grand jury — tasked with investigating not only Trump, but alleged efforts of dozens of his allies to thwart Georgia's election, which President Joe Biden won.
The special purpose grand jury had subpoena power, but could not issue indictments. The panel of 23 Georgians interviewed 75 witnesses in 2022, and completed a report in January, which was provided to Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis — who has not said publicly if she plans to file charges in the case.
In February, a judge ordered a small portion of the report to be made pubic. In the introduction, the grand jurors wrote that they rebuked a claim often made by Trump and his allies.
"We find by a unanimous vote that no widespread fraud took place in the Georgia 2020 presidential election that could result in overturning that election," the report said.
The report also said that a "majority of the Grand Jury believes that perjury may have been committed by one or more witnesses testifying before it" and recommended that the district attorney seek "appropriate indictments" for crimes where the "evidence is compelling."
Lawyers close to several Republican witnesses in the probe are preparing to move to quash any possible indictments in the case, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The special counsel's Jan. 6 and documents probes
In Washington, D.C., a special counsel is reviewing Trump's handling of sensitive government documents found at his Mar-a-Lago home and possible obstruction of efforts to retrieve them.
The special counsel, Jack Smith, was appointed in November to oversee the Justice Department's criminal investigations into Trump, including efforts to interfere with the lawful transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election and the certification of the Electoral College vote held at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Former Vice President Mike Pence challenged a subpoena issued by the special counsel in February. In late March, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled that Pence must testify before a grand jury, although the scope of the questioning allowed is not yet clear. Pence says he is still consulting with his legal team about whether to file an appeal. Special counsels have broad subpoena power, and it's unclear what information the special counsel is seeking in the subpoena.
Smith is also investigating allegations that Trump mishandled national defense information at his residence at Mar-a-Lago. Trump's handling of documents drew scrutiny after the discovery in August 2022 of White House material —some marked top secret— in his home office. Federal prosecutors said in an August court filing that documents were "likely concealed and removed" from Mar-a-Lago as part of an effort to "obstruct" the FBI's investigation.
Trump has criticized Smith on his social media site, Truth Social, calling Smith a "radical."
Trump has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing in connection with each of the investigations.
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