Former U.S. President Donald Trump, indicted Thursday in connection with a hush money payment to a porn star, is also facing several other significant criminal investigations related to his 2020 reelection loss and classified documents he took with him when his presidential term ended two years ago.
Trump is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and trying to reclaim the White House, but his political future is clouded by the array of probes that could lead to more charges, or possibly clear him of allegations of wrongdoing.
Special counsel Jack Smith, appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, with an extensive team of prosecutors, is heading the two most wide-ranging probes.
One involves Trump’s role in trying to upend his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the weeks after the November 2020 election and Trump’s subsequent admonition on Jan. 6, 2021, to his supporters to head to the U.S. Capitol and “fight like hell” to keep Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote count that Biden had won.
About 2,000 Trump supporters stormed into the Capitol, ransacked congressional offices and clashed with police that day. About 1,000 of the rioters have been charged with criminal offenses and about half have been convicted so far, with some sentenced to prison for several years.
Smith’s other investigation centers on hundreds of classified documents Trump took with him to his oceanside Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida when he left office, even though he was required by law to turn them over to the National Archives.
Trump voluntarily returned some of the documents after authorities asked for them, but when Justice Department officials concluded that he had still more at Mar-a-Lago they secured a court-ordered search warrant last August and FBI agents discovered more classified material in a search of his estate. Trump has contended he was entitled as a former president to keep the documents.
In a narrower criminal probe, a state prosecutor in Atlanta, Fani Willis, is investigating Trump’s role in trying to overturn his 11,779-vote loss to Biden in the southern state of Georgia.
In a recorded conversation days ahead of the congressional certification of Biden’s victory, Trump pleaded with Georgia state election chief Brad Raffensperger and other election officials to “find” him 11,780 votes, one more than he needed to overcome his loss.
“The people of Georgia are angry. The people in the country are angry,” Trump said in the call to the Georgia officials. “And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”
Both Smith and Willis have subpoenaed an array of former Trump administration officials to testify before grand juries about their conversations with Trump in the weeks after the election, his efforts to upend the election result and to stay in power. One effort, never fully implemented in states Trump lost to Biden, was to sign up fake electors supporting Trump to replace the legitimate ones committed to Biden in the Electoral College vote count as the Trump supporters rampaged into the Capitol.
In the past week, former Vice President Mike Pence, Trump’s second-in-command, was ordered to honor a grand jury subpoena to testify about his interactions with Trump in the post-election period when the former president unsuccessfully pushed him to delay counting the electoral votes on Jan. 6 two years ago.
Willis has signaled she will decide whether to file charges against Trump or any his aides by May, while Smith could also bring his investigation to a head in the coming months.
In a civil inquiry that centers on events related to Trump’s real estate business empire, New York state Attorney General Letitia James has accused Trump of lying to lenders and insurers about the value of his properties.
She is seeking to bar Trump, along with his sons Donald Jr. and Eric and his daughter Ivanka, from continuing to run a business in New York. A New York judge declined in January to dismiss James’ suit, increasing the likelihood that he will eventually face a trial in the matter later this year.