What legal cases are targeting Donald Trump? What is he really risking? Could these lawsuits impact the presidential elections?
Could Donald Trump campaign from behind bars
With all the legal cases initiated against the former American president, it is becoming difficult to navigate. Donald Trump appeared in Atlanta, Georgia as part of the alleged illicit attempts to reverse the result of the 2020 election, in this key state won by Joe Biden. The 77-year-old former president of the United States is being prosecuted with 18 other people under a law on organized crime.
This case is added to the other disputes of the Republican candidate, who is already charged in three other criminal cases: the so-called Stormy Daniels case, where he is accused of accounting fraud in a payment during his 2016 presidential campaign; the case of concealment of confidential documents; and that of the Capitol riots. On the eve of the 2024 American presidential elections, what does he risk, or on the contrary, what could he gain from them.
Cases targeting Donald Trump
The 2020 election in Georgia
Donald Trump must therefore go to Atlanta and appear as part of an attempt to manipulate the election in 2020, during the presidential elections won by Joe Biden. The criminal investigation was opened to find out whether the former president had indeed tried to pressure Republican Brad Raffensperger, Secretary of State of Georgia. Indeed, a few weeks earlier, the Washington Post had made public a recording where we could hear the American president asking the Georgia secretary of state to change the results of the presidential election in his favor.
Conversation between Trump and Raffensperger
“All I want is to find 11,780 votes. Because we won the state,” Trump said. “Well, Mr. President,” Raffensperger replied. The problem is that the data you have is wrong.” “There’s just no way I lost Georgia,” Trump said. It’s not possible… But they added a lot of votes, late at night. You know that well, Brad. And that’s what we’re working on very, very rigorously.”
“We disagree that you won,” the secretary of state responded.
Donald Trump was indicted by the justice system of the state of Georgia, along with 18 other people. He is facing 13 charges, including attempted electoral fraud and pressure on employees. The defendants engaged in an organized criminal enterprise to overturn the outcome of the election in Georgia. They announced a trial within six months. But it’s up to the judge to decide.
The Stormy Daniels affair
An investigation was opened in 2018 by New York justice into a payment of $130,000 made to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, just before the 2016 presidential election, so that she would keep quiet about an alleged extramarital affair with Donald Trump. The sum, recorded as legal expenses, had not been declared in the campaign accounts, which potentially corresponds to campaign fraud.
In this case, the former president is accused of having orchestrated a series of payments to cover up three embarrassing affairs with the 2016 election, according to the indictment.
Donald Trump’s embarrassing affairs
In addition to the amount paid to Stormy Daniels, several payments have been noted, including that of a doorman at the Trump World Tower who claimed to have proof of the existence of a hidden child and that of Karen McDougal who also claims to have been paid to keep quiet about extramarital affairs.
Donald Trump was then indicted in March 2023 for accounting falsifications aimed at buying the actress’s silence. The ex-president appeared in New York and pleaded not guilty. A trial is scheduled to take place in March 2024.
The document concealment affair
Donald Trump was indicted for illegally storing classified documents at his private residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, after leaving the White House in 2021 and plotting to thwart government efforts to recover them.
It all started when the national archives estimated that Donald Trump had not returned several official documents. After receiving 15 boxes containing nearly 200 classified documents, the agency asked the US Department of Justice to open an investigation. Donald Trump’s lawyers then returned 38 documents and the FBI raided his villa at Mar-a-Lago on August 8. On site, they discovered around thirty other boxes, containing nearly 11,000 documents.
According to the indictment, the documents include information on the defense capabilities of the United States and foreign countries, on American nuclear programs and on potential vulnerabilities in the event of an attack against the United States and its allies. In this case, Donald Trump is targeted by 37 charges, some of which are punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison. Three new charges were then added for attempting to erase surveillance video. Again, the former president pleaded not guilty. The trial date has been set for May 20, 2024. But the trial could be delayed.
Assault on the Capitol
On January 6, 2021, the capitol was invaded. Donald Trump is accused of inciting sedition. He faces four counts: conspiracy against the United States by fraud, dishonesty and deception; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, namely the counting and certification of the election by Congress on January 6, 2021; obstruction of an official proceeding; and conspiracy to undermine the right of voters to have their votes counted.
What does Donald Trump risk
It is difficult to know exactly what the former president risks. In the Stormy Daniel case, the maximum sentence is 4 years in prison. For the attempted manipulation of the presidential election in Georgia, the prosecutor cited a law in force in the state on organized gang delinquency, used in particular against gangs and providing for sentences of five to twenty years in prison. Finally, in the case of the concealment of confidential documents and that of the call to sedition in the context of the Capitol riot, these are unprecedented cases.
Could they have an impact on the presidential elections
Donald Trump can run and be elected, even from the back of a cell. But the court cases could have an impact on his electoral base. According to Lauric Henneton, everything will depend on the trial schedule. There are three scenarios: if a trial falls during the Republican primaries, the impact would not be enormous.
If a trial falls during the second part of the presidential campaign, between the Republican convention and the November election, it would become a little more sensitive. We are in the configuration of Hillary Clinton and the email affair: according to her, it would have cost her the presidency. Finally, if the trial begins after 2024, it could end up trying a sitting president.
Could Donald Trump campaign from behind bars
He will not go behind bars, because the final judgment will not take place before the elections. According to specialists in American history and civilization, court delays, the potential lack of unanimity of the jury in deciding and possible procedural flaws could lead to his non-conviction. And if he is cleared, he will be able to triumph by repeating: ‘I told you, they have nothing against me! I am innocent!’. Finally, if a trial results in a conviction, subsequently confirmed on appeal, he could be imprisoned.