Search at Donald Trump: we summarize the legal proceedings against the former American president

Investigations are multiplying against the former tenant of the White House. Mar-a-Lago, the famous Florida residence of Donald Trump, was raided on Monday August 8 by the FBI, he himself announced in a press release. “They even broke into my safe!” was indignant Donald Trump, who was not there at the time of the search, according to the New York Times (article in English). LThe FBI did not confirm the search or wish to comment.

“Nobody is above the law (…), not even a former president”reacted on Tuesday, on the American television channel NBC, Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. This operation, linked to an investigation into the mismanagement of classified documents, according to the New York daily, comes to extend the number of investigations already in progress and targeting, from near or far, the former American president.

An investigation into the White House document archive

According to several American media, the search carried out on Monday by the federal police concerns the archiving by Donald Trump of documents related to his presidency. A 1978 law obliges any American president to transmit, at the end of his mandate, all of his e-mails, letters and other working documents to the American National Archives, responsible for keeping them. However, the former president had taken, when he left the White House in January 2021, fifteen boxes of documents, which agents from the Archives had to recover in January, already at Mar-a-Lago.

In February, the washington postwhich cited internal sources, mentioned in particular several tracks on the contents of the recovered boxes (article in English). Among them would be the letter that Barack Obama, his predecessor, had left him on the desk of the White House, during the transfer of power, or even letters exchanged with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.

The federal police have asked the American courts to open an investigation into these facts, which have not yet given rise to any prosecution. Neither the FBI nor the courts gave any indication of the reasons for Monday’s search.

The House of Commons Inquiry into the Capitol Assault

The parliamentary commission of inquiry into the assault on the Capitol, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, recently showed the extent of the pressure that Donald Trump exerted on electoral officials after the 2020 presidential election won by Joe Biden.

The members of the commission completed a series of high-profile hearings on July 22 by devoting two and a half hours to January 6, 2021, the day of the assault, as it was experienced “minute by minute” by Donald Trump. According to the elected representatives of the House of Representatives, the former president of the United States failed to “his duty as Commander-in-Chief” that day, allowing violence to erupt from his supporters.

The elected Republican opened the floodgates “to disorder and corruption”, said Bennie Thompson, who chaired the House of Representatives committee in charge of these investigations, on July 22. Each manager of the events of January 6, 2021 must “answer from [ses] actions in court”, he added. New auditions will take place in September. A final report is expected in the fall.

On July 25, Joe Biden had also criticized his predecessor’s inaction during the Capitol storming, which he called “hell worthy of the Middle Ages”. “For three hours, the battered former President of the United States watched events unfold from the comfort of his private dining room near the Oval Office.”he had launched on the sidelines of a conference of an organization of African-American police chiefs.

A criminal investigation is also underway into the Capitol assault. The federal prosecutors in charge of the investigation have already sentenced a hundred participants to prison terms. But for now, Donald Trump does not seem to be directly targeted in this investigation.

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An investigation into possible interference in Georgia’s 2020 elections

A Georgia prosecutor announced in February 2021 the opening of an investigation into “attempts to influence electoral operations” in his state. Located in the south of the country, Georgia is known to be rather conservative, but it was won by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

In a telephone call dated January 2, 2021, the recording of which had been made public a few weeks before the launch of the investigation, Donald Trump had asked Brad Raffensperger, the Secretary of State of Georgia, to “to find” nearly 12,000 ballots in his name. The goal: to catch up and undo his defeat in this state.

Fulton County Attorney (Georgia, USA), Fani Willis, on May 2, 2022, in Atlanta.   (BEN GRAY/AP/SIPA/SIPA)

In January, Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis, leading the investigation, called for a special grand jury. In letter addressed to the court on July 20 (in English)she considered this step necessary to “investigate facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to possible attempts to disrupt the legal administration of the 2020 elections in the State of Georgia”.

The investigations continue in 2022. The grand jury was first convened in May, reports the American media Vox (article in English). A dozen alleged “false voters” have already been summoned to appear in June. Also according to Vox, the investigation report should not be released before the mid-term elections in the fall.

Suspicions of financial fraud in New York

Manhattan prosecutor Alvin Bragg is investigating, in a criminal case, suspicions of fraudulent valuation of assets within the Trump Organization – which includes golf clubs, luxury hotels and other properties of the real estate mogul – to obtain more advantageous loans from banks, or to reduce taxes. The conglomerate and its ex-chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, were charged with tax evasion. A trial is expected in 2022 in New York.

In a second civil case, Democratic New York State Attorney General Letitia James is seeking to shed light on similar suspicions of fraudulent asset valuation.

The investigation was opened in March 2019 after the explosive testimony to the United States Congress of one of Donald Trump’s former personal lawyers, Michael Cohen. The latter reported fraudulent assessments, upwards or downwards, of assets within the Trump Organization, to obtain loans, obtain tax reductions or better insurance compensation.

Michael Cohen, former lawyer for Donald Trump, after his testimony before a committee of the American House of Representatives, in Washington (United States), February 27, 2019. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

In January, Letitia James had assured to have “uncovered significant evidence that suggests that Donald Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued a number of assets”, in particular golf courses or the personal triplex of the American billionaire, located in the Trump Tower in New York. Suspicions refuted by the lawyers of Donald Trump, for whom Letitia James leads a “witch hunt” Politics.

Earlier this year, the prosecutor managed to get a judge to order Donald Trump and two of his children – Donald Jr and Ivanka – to testify under oath. A hearing scheduled for mid-July has been postponed due to the death of the former president’s first wife, Ivana Trump. “We received a request from the lawyer for Donald Trump and his children to adjourn the three depositions, which we accepted”said the prosecutor’s office.

She had assured, without giving a date, that “the depositions [seraient] rescheduled as soon as possible”. The billionaire was finally heard by the New York Attorney General on Wednesday, as announced by New York Times (article in English). But Donald Trump announced in a press release that he refused to answer questions, “under the rights and prerogatives granted to every citizen by the Constitution of the United States”. The prosecutor does not have the power to indict Donald Trump, but she can initiate civil proceedings and in particular claim financial damages.

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