According to analysts, a new civil complaint filed in New York charging the Trump family of “staggering” fraud might endanger a presidential campaign.
Donald Trump has hinted at a 2024 presidential run, but that could be derailed by the cascade of criminal, civil and congressional inquiries against him. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP
Politicians and legal perils agree that Donald Trump’s legal difficulties have gotten out of hand and might derail his chances of winning the next election.
Trump and three of his adult children were charged on Wednesday with engaging in a “staggering” fraud scheme in which they systematically overstated the worth of his properties in order to benefit themselves.
The civil lawsuit was brought by the attorney general of New York at the same time that the FBI is looking into whether Trump held confidential government records at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and that a special grand jury in Georgia is examining whether he and others tried to sway Georgia election officials after he lost to Joe Biden there.
The former US president has repeatedly hinted that he wants to run for president again in 2024. However, the series of criminal, civil, and legislative investigations may still fail to succeed.
Trump is the target of a lawsuit by the New York attorney general that claims he “falsely inflated his net worth”
“He’s done,” said Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University, in Washington, who has accurately predicted every presidential election since 1984. “He’s got too many burdens, too much baggage to be able to run again even presuming he escapes jail, he escapes bankruptcy. I’m not sure he’s going to escape jail.”
Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, said after a three-year investigation that Trump supplied misleading asset appraisals and deceptive assertions of his net worth in order to get and repay loans, receive insurance benefits, and avoid paying taxes. Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric’s children were all included as defendants.
James made fun of Trump’s 1987 autobiography and business how-to book The Art of the Deal at a press conference.
“This investigation revealed that Donald Trump engaged in years of illegal conduct to inflate his net worth, to deceive banks and the people of the great state of New York. Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to ‘the art of the deal’. It’s the art of the steal,” she said.
Her agency asked the state to impose a family business prohibition and to require the former president to pay at least $250 million in fines.
James said that she was reporting claims of criminal fraud to federal prosecutors in Manhattan as well as the Internal Revenue Service even though she is unable to file criminal charges against Trump in this civil probe.
Using his Truth Social platform, Trump once again claimed that the lawsuit is “another witch hunt” against him and referred to Black James as racist. He also called James “a fraud who campaigned on a ‘get Trump’ platform, despite the fact that the city is one of the crime and murder disasters of the world under her watch!”
However, detractors said that the lawsuit goes to the core of Trump’s self-description as a successful real estate developer who earned billions, hosted the reality TV program The Apprentice, and vowed to use his financial savvy to win the president.
The civil component “involves things of particular significance to Trump and his family and his organization, namely their ability to defraud the public, to defraud banks, to defraud insurance companies, and to continue to subsist through corruption,” according to Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University. Without all of that corruption, the Trump enterprise as a whole would be close to collapsing.
Tribe added: “Trump is probably more concerned with things of this kind than he is with having to wear an orange jumpsuit and maybe answer a criminal indictment … As a practical matter, this is probably going to cause more sleepless nights for Mr Trump than almost anything else.”
No past president has ever faced this so numerous and so serious of an inquiry. FBI officials searched Mar-a-Lago last month and found government papers with the designations Top Secret, Secret, and Confidential. Trump may be charged for breaking the Espionage Act, hindering a federal investigation, or handling secret government documents improperly.
Trump attempted to sour the legal process, as he has done so often throughout his commercial career. By convincing a court to appoint Raymond Dearie as a special master to evaluate the papers, he gained time. Dearie, though, far from a yes-man at this point. He sent Trump’s attorneys a warning on Tuesday: “My view is you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
In Georgia, a state grand jury is also looking into the ex-alleged president’s attempts to rig Georgia’s 2020 election results. The US Capitol was attacked fatally on January 6 by a crowd of his followers who wanted to stop the certification of Biden’s election win. The law department is looking into his involvement in this incident. The concurrent probe by a House of Representatives committee, whose parallel investigation are scheduled to start next week, has helped it in its efforts.
Additionally, the Trump Organization, which oversees hotels, golf courses, and other properties around the globe, is scheduled to go on trial the following month in a case alleging that it planned to give senior executives untaxed benefits, including its longtime finance chief Allen Weisselberg, who alone received more than $1.7m in extras.
In spite of this, Trump has been setting the basis for a future return campaign and has claimed that Biden’s administration is trying to harm his electoral chances by focusing on him.
When asked what would happen if he was charged with possessing secret papers at Mar-a-Lago, a conservative radio host asked Trump. He said, “I believe you’d have difficulties in our nation the likes of which probably we’ve never seen before. The American people wouldn’t tolerate that, in my opinion.
Democratic National Committee advisor Kurt Bardella said: “If the best justification you have for your behavior is that if you hold me accountable, there will be violence, that sounds like someone who has no business being in public service or being outside of jail.”
Bardella hoped that Trump will finally be held accountable. “The grift has always been at the center of Donald Trump’s life. Always, it has been about the scam. His reveal is about to happen right now.
Thanks to The Guardian whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.