WASHINGTON — Now that the New York Attorney General has charged Donald Trump with fraud, one thing seems more certain: If Trump becomes president again in 2024, he will do so while defending himself in court.
Maybe multiple courts.
The long-running arsenal of investigations into Trump — covering his business practices, his handling of classified information, his efforts to undo his 2020 election loss, and his role in the January 6, 2021 uprising — will tax any presidential run in 2024 by the former. CEO, analysts said.
The lawsuit of New York Attorney General Letitia James is a civil rather than a criminal one. position for a major party candidate.
Citing James’ consideration of charges against Trump, including fraud that run into the tens of millions of dollars or more, historian Michael Beschloss said, “I’ve never seen anything like it in the history of the US presidency.”
And with a separate tax fraud case also currently pending against the Trump organization, Trump’s legal troubles will be in the headlines for months or maybe even years.
“It will be in the news again and again,” said Andrew Weissmann, a former federal prosecutor who was part of the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
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Anger – and discovery
Trump and his allies — including some former allies — say the investigation will only help him politically as voters rally around a man they believe has been unfairly targeted.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr, who criticized Trump for his actions in a classified documents case, criticized James over the lawsuit. Failing to make her case, Barr said, could hurt other investigations involving voters who believe the Trump administration is “piling up.”
“I don’t think it will hurt him,” Barr said. “The more these things are thrown overboard, the more I think it will help him.”
In an interview aired Thursday, Trump agreed with TBEN News host Sean Hannity’s claim, without evidence, that investigators would flinch if he simply announced he was inactive in 2024.
But Trump said he wouldn’t because a formal announcement would subject him to fundraising rules. “I have to fight,” Trump said at one point. “I am besieged.”
Weissmann said Trump’s response is understandable — “he thrives on being victimized and acting against the elites” — but can be difficult to sustain as cases develop against him.
Discovery, or the process of exchanging information in court, and filing court documents could be “horrific” for Trump and his case, Weissmann said.
A 2024 test in 2022
Trump has not formally run for president in 2024. He frequently flirts with the idea, especially after some bad legal news, including the announcement of James’ lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, the attorney general said Trump and members of his family fraudulently overvalued property to secure or devalue bank loans to reduce tax bills.
Claiming the appraisals amounted to financial fraud, James said, “There are no two laws for people in this country. Former presidents must be held to the same standards as ordinary Americans.” James also said she has referred the Trump case to federal prosecutors in New York and the Internal Revenue Service.
Trump, who accused James of criminalizing standard business practices, has been under investigative clouds since he left the White House on Jan. 20, 2021.
His only term ended two weeks after a crowd of supporters stormed the Capitol in a failed attempt to block President Joe Biden’s election victory. The January 6, 2021 uprising followed weeks of false claims by Trump about a stolen election.
Now a grand jury in Atlanta is investigating Trump’s pressure on state officials to reverse his election loss in Georgia.
The Justice Department is investigating whether Trump is to blame for the uprising.
The DOJ is also investigating Trump’s removal of classified information from the White House. That probe inspired Trump’s Aug. 8 search of his home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, by the FBI, a stunning legal development that fueled speculation about the former president’s political future.
Strong on Republicans, weak on Independents
Trump-backed candidates in the current midterm elections are struggling in some cases.
Candidates who have won nominations, thanks in large part to Trump’s support, have struggled in general elections, including races in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona that will decide which party controls the US Senate.
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“The 2022 interim deadlines are a test case” for the impact of Trump’s legal troubles, said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.
In Ohio – a key, stands in most presidential elections — only 26% of independents have a favorable view of Trump, Paleologos said.
“He has always had to fight for independents,” Paleologos said. “The investigations are not helping him.”
A number of people wonder how Trump could make a credible presidential candidacy while he is in court, especially if he is hit with criminal charges.
Michael Cohen, the former Trump attorney whose congressional testimony led to the James investigation into real estate valuations, said he always doubted there would be another Trump presidential campaign and said he thinks Trump is on his own. talk to raise money.
“I never thought he would run in 2024 and that this was a stunt to get rid of his supporters for as long as possible,” said Cohen, a former confidante who has since turned on his former boss.
Given the James lawsuit and the other investigations, Cohen said he just doesn’t see how Trump can mount a presidential campaign, or how voters can take him seriously. Cohen said, “There’s no way he could legitimately run a race with all the legal baggage plaguing him.”
Grand juries investigating Trump are not expected to take formal action against the ex-president before this year’s Election Day on Nov. 8. In the meantime, however, news leaks, lawsuits and legal discoveries may continue to rain down on Trump, a taste of the legal and political storms to come.
The Trump Organization, the former president’s company, has also been charged with fraud in a separate case and will face court in October. Some of the testimonials are expected to relate to Trump and his business dealings. It is expected that little will help Trump politics.
But Matt Wolking, a deputy communications director for Trump’s 2020 campaign, said the James lawsuit and the other investigations will at least encourage Trump to walk. “It definitely gives him an incentive to fight back,” he said.
Republicans point out that the investigations may not loom as the biggest problems voters will face as the Republican primary rolls around in early 2024 — especially if the economy continues to struggle. For example, the rate of inflation is hovering around its 40-year high, putting Americans under pressure on everything from rent to the cost of eggs.
There’s also the fact that Trump survived some scandals on his way to the White House the first time around, said Liz Mair, an anti-Trump Republican political adviser.
“The problem with Donald Trump,” said Mair, “is that he doesn’t operate in the same reality as everyone else.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New York Fraud Case Complicates Possible Trump 2024 Plans