The investigations and potential charges that Trump is facing
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Former President Trump has survived plenty of investigations already. There was the Mueller investigation, the Ukraine inquiry. But getting arrested and individually charged with a crime - that would be uncharted territory for Trump. No former president has ever been indicted. But that could change very soon, with several criminal investigations hanging over Trump's head. NPR's Becky Sullivan joins us now to give us the latest on those investigations.
BECKY SULLIVAN, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.
CHANG: OK, so let's start with the charges that could be imminent as of now. This is out of the Manhattan district attorney's office.
CHANG: All right.
SULLIVAN: So this case centers on the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels. She is the adult film actress who alleges that she had an affair with Trump after meeting him at a celebrity golf tournament back in 2006. So in the runup to the 2016 election, as Trump's campaign was picking up steam, Daniels was trying to shop her story around to gossip magazines like the National Enquirer. But the National Enquirer's leadership was friendly with Trump.
They alerted his lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, who negotiated a deal with Daniels to pay her $130,000 in exchange for keeping her story quiet. Cohen transferred that money to Daniels less than two weeks before the election. And then after Trump won, Trump reimbursed Cohen, including with his own personal checks. Now, Trump admits to the reimbursement, but he denies the affair.
SULLIVAN: So now what the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, is trying to do here - he's a little bit uncharted. The potential crime is falsifying business records. So basically, the Trump Organization said that those reimbursement payments were for legal fees, which is not true. But in New York, that's only a felony if it was done to cover up another crime - in this case, probably the violation of campaign finance laws. And there's been a lot of signals coming out of New York that an indictment could be coming any day now.
CHANG: All right, so that's out of the Manhattan DA's office. What other criminal investigations is Trump facing?
SULLIVAN: Yeah. So the other one that could come soon is this election interference case out of Georgia. You might remember in 2020, Georgia was a very slim-margin state that decided for - the election for Joe Biden. And Trump and his allies for weeks tried to pressure state officials in Georgia to basically undo his loss there. That included Trump's famous phone call to the Georgia secretary of state, in which he asked him to, quote, "find about 12,000 votes."
Trump allies also tried to cook up this fake-electors scheme to send fake electors to the Electoral College to overrule the state's voters and say that Trump won Georgia instead. All of this and more was the subject of an inquiry by a special grand jury in Fulton County, Ga. That wrapped up in January. And the top prosecutor there, Fani Willis, has said that decisions about charges are imminent.
CHANG: And then there's also another investigation related to classified documents, right?
SULLIVAN: That's right. So that investigation is being led by the U.S. Department of Justice. Last year, the attorney general appointed a special counsel to oversee it. His name is Jack Smith, and he's actually overseeing another federal investigation as well. So there's the mishandling of the classified documents. So that includes the ones that had to be recovered from Mar-a-Lago by the FBI. But also, he's looking into Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election, including any issues related to January 6.
So we don't know much about what the timeline could be there. This doesn't seem as close to charges as the state cases do. And then, of course, with the 2024 election getting closer and closer, any indictment out of the federal DOJ is sure to draw accusations of political motivations.
CHANG: OK. That sounds like a lot of investigations so far, but you're not even...
SULLIVAN: I'm know.
CHANG: ...Done, right?
SULLIVAN: It's true. Yes. He's also facing some high-profile civil suits. There's two from E. Jean Carroll. This is the woman who accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s, which Trump denies. One of her suits is scheduled to go to trial in April. And then also, the New York state attorney general, Letitia James, has sued Trump, along with three of his adult children and the Trump Organization, over what she says is years of financial fraud. And that trial is scheduled for October.
CHANG: That is NPR's Becky Sullivan.
Thank you so much, Becky.
SULLIVAN: You are very welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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