Politics and Government

It's not just Stormy Daniels. Here are ongoing criminal investigations Trump faces

Former President Donald Trump addresses the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on March 4 in National Harbor, Md.
Former President Donald Trump addresses the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on March 4 in National Harbor, Md.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

As the possibility looms of a Manhattan grand jury handing down a criminal indictment for former President Donald Trump, he also faces scrutiny in other ongoing investigations that could come with charges of their own.

The proceedings — from New York, Georgia and the federal Department of Justice — all have the potential to upend the 2024 presidential race, in which Trump has already announced his candidacy.

Trump has survived plenty of investigations already — remember the Mueller investigation? How about the Ukraine impeachment inquiry? — but criminal charges, and a subsequent arrest, could have a dramatic effect on his 2024 campaign. Never before has a former president been charged with a crime.

Here are the active investigations:

The Stormy Daniels hush money investigation (Manhattan District Attorney's Office)

This criminal case centers on a $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actor, made just before the 2016 election in order to quiet her allegations of an affair with Trump.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, says that she and Trump had an affair at a celebrity golf tournament in 2006. As Trump's campaign for president picked up steam, she offered to sell her story to gossip magazines. In October, executives at the National Enquirer, a publication long friendly to Trump, alerted Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Cohen reached an agreement with Daniels to pay her $130,000 in exchange for keeping her story quiet. Her attorney received the money from Cohen on Oct. 27, less than two weeks before the election.

After Trump was elected president, Cohen was reimbursed with a total of $420,000, to account for taxes and other costs. Some of the reimbursement checks were signed by Trump himself, who has admitted to repaying Cohen for money paid to Daniels. He has denied having the affair.

According to court records, the Trump Organization's top executives falsely identified the reimbursements as a "retainer" for "legal services."

Now, the grand jury is examining whether Trump committed a felony under New York state law by falsifying business records to cover up another crime — like the violation of campaign finance laws with the hush money payment.

The case is being brought by Alvin Bragg Jr., who was elected district attorney of New York County in 2021. He took over the case from his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., who had opened a broad criminal inquiry into Trump's business activities while Trump was still president.

Earlier this month, reports emerged that prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney's office had offered Trump the chance to testify before a grand jury. In New York, that's usually a signal that charges are coming soon, as potential defendants must have the opportunity to answer questions in the grand jury before an indictment. (Trump declined the offer to testify.)

The Georgia 2020 election interference investigation (Fulton County District Attorney's Office)

The Georgia case centers on the actions of Trump and his allies in the weeks following the 2020 presidential election, as they pressured state officials to undo his loss in the state.

After Trump narrowly lost the state, he repeatedly called Georgia state officials to pressure them to find ways to change the outcome — including the infamous call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021, in which he instructed the Republican Raffensperger to "find 11,780 votes." Trump also called Gov. Brian Kemp and the state attorney general to urge them to contest the election results.

The inquiry has also examined efforts to send slates of fake electors to the Electoral College to say that Trump won, rather than Joe Biden.

The investigation is led by Fani Willis, the top prosecutor in Fulton County, Ga., where a special grand jury spent eight months hearing from more than 70 witnesses. Their work was finalized in early January. A portion of their report was released last month, but a judge ruled that most of it should remain confidential, for now.

Willis has said decisions on indictments are "imminent." It's not clear if Trump would be among those charged. Possible crimes for him or others could include soliciting election fraud, giving false statements to government bodies and racketeering.

A pair of investigations into Trump's actions around Jan. 6 and his mishandling of classified documents (the U.S. Department of Justice)

The U.S. Department of Justice has two ongoing investigations into possible criminal actions by Trump. Both probes are being led by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland last year.

One of the investigations centers on how Trump handled classified documents after his presidency ended. Last June, a lawyer for Trump certified that a "diligent search" for classified documents had been conducted at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and all documents found had been turned over to federal authorities. But two months later, an FBI raid recovered more than 100 additional documents.

(President Biden has been embroiled in his own classified documents scandal after files were found to be improperly stored at his Delaware home and a think tank office in Washington he previously used. A different special counsel has also been appointed to investigate that.)

Smith is also looking at Trump's attempt to interfere with the 2020 election. As part of that probe, prosecutors have interviewed numerous Trump allies and aides. They've also subpoenaed former Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump pressured intensely to overturn the election results during the certification process on Jan. 6.

Prosecutors are also reportedly investigating the finances of Save America, a Trump-affiliated political action committee.

The DOJ investigations are ongoing. There's not much known about when charges, if any, would come. But as the 2024 election draws closer, any indictment is sure to draw accusations of political motivations.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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