A year out of office, Trump's legal woes continue to mount

·7 min read

One year after he left office, former President Donald Trump's legal woes continue to mount.

This week alone, the Supreme Court denied the former president’s request to prevent the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot from obtaining White House records concerning Trump’s activities leading up to and during the insurrection. The same committee also subpoenaed Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other attorneys involved in pushing baseless voter fraud claims in Trump's effort to overturn the election, and asked his daughter Ivanka to cooperate voluntarily in its probe.

Meanwhile, a Georgia district attorney looking into Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results in the state requested a special grand jury to aid in that investigation. And the New York State attorney general said this week that she has uncovered "significant evidence" of fraud in her ongoing investigations into the Trump Organization's business practices.

The Jan. 6 committee’s latest subpoenas — and revelations

Donald Trump
Donald Trump. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP, Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the committee issued subpoenas to the Trump legal team that worked to overturn the 2020 results, including Giuliani, a former New York City mayor.

“The four individuals we’ve subpoenaed today advanced unsupported theories about election fraud, pushed efforts to overturn the election results, or were in direct contact with the former President about attempts to stop the counting of electoral votes,” committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement.

In addition to Giuliani, the committee subpoenaed Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, attorney and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell and Boris Epshteyn, a top political strategist for the former president. Epshteyn called the effort a “witch hunt” in a tweet responding to the news.

In the aftermath of the November 2020 election, Trump’s team filed dozens of lawsuits, many of which were struck down within days, and held numerous press events where they baselessly disputed the legitimacy of the election.

On Wednesday, the committee subpoenaed two leaders of a white nationalist group that wants Trump to “rule for life.” The next day, the committee sent a letter requesting the cooperation of Ivanka Trump, the former president’s elder daughter, who served as a senior adviser during his time in the White House.

“We are particularly interested in discussions inside the White House and with the President before and after his 2:24 p.m. tweet,” stated the letter, a reference to Trump’s Jan. 6 tweet castigating his vice president, Mike Pence, for not joining the effort to reverse the election results.

“Testimony obtained by the Select Committee indicates that members of the White House staff requested your assistance on multiple occasions to intervene in an attempt to persuade President Trump to address the ongoing lawlessness and violence on Capitol Hill.”

That letter detailed the chaos at the White House during the violence at the Capitol and noted that Trump recorded multiple versions of a video in which he belatedly told his supporters to go home late on the afternoon of Jan. 6.

The committee said it was looking into the then president’s specific actions during the afternoon hours, including whether he had called for National Guard deployment to help stop the rioters.

The Supreme Court rejection

Trump supporters clash with police
Trump supporters clash with police outside the Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court voted 8-1 against blocking the release of White House records concerning Trump’s activities leading up to and during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The high court’s decision marked the latest hurdle to the former president’s bid to claim executive privilege over hundreds of pages of documents sought by the Jan. 6 committee. In November, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that Trump did not have the authority to overrule current President Biden, who has so far chosen to waive executive privilege over the records requested by the committee.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., affirmed that ruling in December, prompting Trump to submit an emergency request last month asking the Supreme Court to intervene.

But nearly all of the justices ruled against Trump’s request on Wednesday, with only Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting.

Thompson and the committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., praised the Supreme Court decision in a statement Wednesday evening, calling it “a victory for the rule of law and American democracy.”

On Friday, Politico reported that one of the documents Trump was attempting to shield was a draft executive order calling for the seizure of voting machines.

Election interference in Georgia

Donald Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump
Then-President Trump and his daughter Ivanka in January 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Thursday also brought a new development in an investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 results in the state of Georgia. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis made the request in a letter to the chief judge of the county’s Superior Court.

Fulton County is Georgia’s most populous county and is home to Atlanta, the state capital and the center of Trump’s push to flip the presidential race there. Biden won Georgia by a narrow margin, becoming the first Democrat to carry the state since 1992. Willis, a Democrat, cited the lack of cooperation from witnesses, including the state’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who “refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony.” The special grand jury would be empaneled longer than normal and would focus solely on the case, but would not be able to issue indictments.

The inquiry started last February and centered on a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Raffensperger. Trump urged Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” that made up Biden’s winning margin in the state. Raffensperger refused, and has been the target of Trump’s ire ever since.

Earlier this month, Willis told the Associated Press her team was making progress in the case but was not rushing things.

“I believe in 2022 a decision will be made in that case,” she said. “I certainly think that in the first half of the year that decisions will be made.”

In a statement responding to the news, Trump said he “didn’t say anything wrong” in his “perfect” call with Raffensperger. He also repeated his baseless claims of election fraud, saying that the special grand jury “should be looking into ... the large scale voter fraud that took place in Georgia.”

In an interview with Fox News Thursday afternoon, Raffensperger called Democrats the “party of stolen elections claims” and said Willis was “trying to score some cheap political points with her Democrat friends.”

The business inquiry in New York

New York State Attorney General Letitia James
New York State Attorney General Letitia James. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters/File)

On Tuesday, New York State Attorney General Letitia James moved forward with an attempt to get Trump, son Donald Trump Jr. and daughter Ivanka Trump to comply with her ongoing investigation into Trump Organization finances.

James’s office filed court papers in response to the Trump family’s attempts to avoid testifying in the probe. Last month, the former president filed suit against James in a bid to thwart her investigations into his business practices.

“We have uncovered significant evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent and misleading asset valuations on multiple properties to obtain economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions for years,” James, a Democrat, tweeted.

“Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump have all been closely involved in the transactions in question, so we won’t tolerate their attempts to evade testifying in this investigation.”

"We will not be deterred in our efforts to continue this investigation, uncover the facts, and pursue justice, no matter how many roadblocks Mr. Trump and his family throw in our way,” James added. “No one is above the law.”

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