- Trump and his businesses are tangled in at least a dozen significant investigations and lawsuits.
- The probes the mishandling of sensitive documents, efforts to overturn the US election and possible financial wrongdoing.
- Check back here for updates on Trump’s legal troubles, and on what’s next.
It’s hard to keep track of Donald Trump’s very busy legal docket.
The former president is the subject of at least four major investigations into wrongdoing relating to his handling of White House documents, the election, the insurrection, and his finances — probes based in Florida, Fulton County, Georgia; Washington, D.C., and New York.
Trump’s business also remains under indictment in Manhattan for an alleged payroll tax-dodge scheme. On top of all that, Trump is fighting or bringing a grab-bag of important lawsuits.
Keep up to date on the latest of Trump’s legal travails, both criminal and civil, with this guide to the ever-evolving Trump docket.
The Trump Organization Payroll Case
The Parties: The Manhattan DA is prosecuting The Trump Organization.
The Issues: Trump’s real estate and golf resort business is accused of giving its executives pricey perks and benefits that were never reported as income to taxing authorities.
The company’s co-defendant, former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, has pleaded guilty to the 15-year, payroll tax-dodge scheme.
As part of his August 18, 2022 plea deal, Weisselberg agreed to serve 5 months in jail and pay back $2 million in back taxes and penalties.
What’s next: Weisselberg also agreed to testify for the prosecution if lawyers for the Trump Organization fight the indictment at trial; an October 24 trial date has been set.
Weisselberg would describe to jurors a tax-dodge scheme in which company executives, himself included, received some pay in off-the-books compensation that included free apartments, cars, and tuition reimbursement. But Weisselberg is hardly the ideal prosecution witness. He still works for Trump Org as a special advisor, and Trump’s side is hoping to turn his testimony to its advantage.
The Trump Organization could face steep fines if convicted of conspiring in the scheme by omitting the compensation from federal, state, and city tax documents and by failing to withhold and pay taxes on that compensation.
The Fulton County election interference probe
The parties: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Trump, and his Republican associates
The issues: Willis is investigating whether Trump and his associates tried to interfere in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Her probe has expanded to also include investigating an alleged scheme to send a fake slate of electors to Georgia’s state Capitol in an attempt to overturn the elections.
She’s notified Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former personal attorney, that he’s a target in the investigation. Giuliani testified for six hours under court order on August 17.
What’s next: A federal appeals court temporarily halted on Sunday a court order for Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to testify before the Fulton County special grand jury on Tuesday, August 23.
The Justice Department investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election
The parties: Federal investigators are increasingly scrutinizing the role Trump and his allies played in the effort to overturn the 2020 election.
The issues: The Justice Department is facing pressure to prosecute following a string of congressional hearings that connected the former president to the violence of January 6, 2021, and to efforts to prevent the peaceful handoff of power.
In a series of eight hearings, the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol described Trump’s conduct in criminal terms and pointed to an April court decision in which a federal judge said the former president likely committed crimes in his effort to hold onto power. In that ruling, Judge David Carter called Trump’s scheme a “coup in search of a legal theory.”
Prosecutors have asked witnesses directly about Trump’s involvement in the effort to reverse his loss in the 2020 election and are likely to issue more subpoenas and search warrants in the weeks ahead.
In June, federal investigators searched the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who advanced Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.
On the same day, federal agents seized the phone of John Eastman, a lawyer who helped advise Trump on how to overturn the 2020 election. A top prosecutor in the Justice Department’s inquiry, Thomas Windom, revealed in late July that investigators had obtained a se cord warrant allowing a search of Eastman’s phone.
Rep. Liz Cheney, the top Republican on the panel, lost her primary bid for reelection on August 16.
What’s next: The Justice Department has remained largely silent about how and whether it would consider charges against Trump, but in July, prosecutors asked witnesses directly about the former president’s involvement in the attempt to reverse his electoral defeat.
The Justice Department investigation into the handling of classified documents
The parties: The FBI searched Trump’s estate in South Florida, Mar-a-Lago, on August 8 as part of an investigation into the possible mishandling of government records, including classified documents. Trump and his lawyers alleged prosecutorial misconduct and condemned the search as politically motivated.
The issues: Early in 2022, Trump turned over 15 boxes of documents — including some marked as classified and “top secret” — to the National Archives. But federal investigators scrutinizing the former president’s handling of records reportedly grew suspicious that Trump or people close to him still retained some key records. The FBI seized about a dozen boxes of additional documents during the raid of Mar-a-Lago, in a search that immediately demonstrated how Trump’s handling of records from his administration remains an area of legal jeopardy.
What’s next: A federal judge in South Florida granted Trump’s request for an outside arbiter — known as a special master — to review the more than 11,000 documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago, including about 100 records marked as classified. Judge Aileen Cannon halted the review of those records as part of the Justice Department’s criminal inquiry but said intelligence agencies could continue assessing the potential national security risk raised by Trump’s hoarding of government records at his West Palm Beach estate. In response, the Justice Department said that bifurcation was unworkable and that Cannon’s order had effectively paused the national security assessment.
The Justice Department asked Cannon to exclude the 100 classified documents from the special master review. If she declines to do so by September 15, the Justice Department signaled that it would go to the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
Lawsuits against Trump
The NY AG’s civil filing against the Trump family and Trump Organization
The parties: New York Attorney General Letitia James has sued Trump, his family and the Trump Organization.
The issues: James says she has uncovered a decade-long pattern of financial wrongdoing at Trump’s multi-billion-dollar hotel and golf resort empire.
She alleges Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in bank loans and tax breaks. Trump has derided the AG’s efforts as a politically motivated witch hunt.
The 220-page lawsuit arose from a three year investigation, and makes multiple, corporation-crippling demands that would eventually be decided by a Manhattan judge.
The demands include that the company pay back $250 million that Trump allegedly pocketed by misleading banks about his worth.
The lawsuit further demands that Trump and his three eldest children — Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, who have all served as Trump Organization executives — be permanently barred from running a New York state corporation.
It also demands that for the next five years, an independent receiver be put in place to monitor the company’s finances and that Donald Trump be personally barred from buying property from a New York-registered bank over those same five years.
Perhaps most extremely, it asks the judge to pull the Trump Organization’s New York papers of incorporation. That’s the charter that lets Trump draw revenue from his New York properties, including the lucrative commercial rents at his Manhattan skyscrapers.
These demands, if ordered, would run Trump’s corporate headquarters out of New York and bar him from selling, buying, collecting rent from or borrowing against any property in New York, potentially putting the Trump Organization out of business entirely.
What’s next: Barring a settlement, next comes an “eye-glazing” litigation slog — legal filings, arguments, appeals — that could go on for two years before a trial can decide if anything actually happens to the Trumps and the family business.
But in announcing her office’s lawsuit, the AG also revealed that she has referred her findings of alleged financial fraud and tax fraud to federal prosecutors in New York and to the Internal Revenue Service. Either of those referrals could result in federal criminal charges and a bill for millions of dollars in back taxes and penalties.
Lawsuits alleging ‘incitement’ on January 6
The Parties: House Democrats and two Capitol police officers accused Trump of inciting the violent mob on January 6.
The Issues: Trump’s lawyers have argued that his time as president grants him immunity that shields him from civil liability in connection with his January 6 address at the Ellipse, where he urged supporters to “fight like hell.”
A federal judge rejected Trump’s bid to dismiss the civil lawsuits, ruling that his rhetoric on January 6 was “akin to telling an excited mob that corn-dealers starve the poor in front of the corn-dealer’s home.”
Judge Amit Mehta said Trump later displayed a tacit agreement with the mob minutes after rioters breached the Capitol when he sent a tweet admonishing then-Vice President Mike Pence for lacking the “courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country.”
What’s Next: Trump has appealed Mehta’s ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and requested an oral argument. In a late July court filing, Trump’s lawyers said the immunity afforded to the former president cannot be “undercut if the presidential act in question is unpopular among the judiciary.”
Galicia v. Trump
The Parties: Lead plaintiff Efrain Galicia and four other protesters of Mexican heritage have sued Trump, his security personnel, and his 2016 campaign in New York.
The issues: They say Donald Trump sicced his security guards on their peaceful, legal protest outside Trump Tower in 2015.
The plaintiffs had been demonstrating with parody “Make America Racist Again” campaign signs to protest Trump’s speech announcing his first campaign for president, during which he accused Mexican immigrants of being “rapists” and drug dealers.
Trump fixer-turned-critic Michael Cohen said in a deposition that Trump directly ordered security to “get rid of” the protesters; Trump said in his own deposition that he didn’t even know a protest was going on until the next day. His security guards have said in depositions that they were responding to aggression by the protesters.
What’s next: Trial is set for jury selection on October 31 in NY Supreme Court in the Bronx.
E. Jean Carroll v. Trump
The Parties: Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll sued Trump for defamation in federal court in Manhattan in June 2019.
The Issues: Carroll’s lawsuit alleges Trump defamed her after she publicly accused him of raping her in a Bergdorf-Goodman dressing room in Manhattan in the mid-90s.
Trump responded to Carroll’s allegation by saying it was untrue and that she was “not my type.” Trump also denied ever meeting Carroll, despite a photo to the contrary.
What’s next: Arrangements for the sharing of evidence are ongoing behind the scenes, including for the possible collection of Trump’s DNA.
Carroll has said she wants to compare Trump’s DNA with unidentified male DNA on a dress she wore during the alleged rape. The trial is tentatively set for Feb. 6, 2023; Carroll has said she would never settle the case.
The ‘multi-level marketing’ pyramid scheme case
The Parties: Lead plaintiff Catherine McKoy and three others sued Trump, his business, and his three eldest children, Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, in 2018 in federal court in Manhattan.
The Issues: Donald Trump is accused of promoting a scam multi-level marketing scheme on “The Celebrity Apprentice.” The lawsuit alleges Trump pocketed $8.8 million from the scheme — but that they lost thousands of dollars. Trump’s side has complained that the lawsuit is a politically motivated attack.
What’s Next: The parties say in court filings that they are working to meet an August 31 deadline for the completion of depositions.
Michael Cohen’s ‘imprisonment’ case
The Parties: Trump fixer-turned-critic Michael Cohen sued Donald Trump, former Attorney General Bill Barr, and more than a dozen federal prison officials and employees, in federal court in Manhattan in 2021.
The Issues: The president’s former personal attorney is seeking $20 million in damages relating to the time he spent in prison for financial crimes and lying to Congress about Trump’s dealings in Congress.
Cohen says in his suit that he had been moved to home confinement for three months in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic, but was then vindictively thrown into solitary confinement when he refused to stop speaking to the press and writing a tell-all book about his former boss. A judge ordered him released after 16 days.
What’s Next: A decision is pending on defense motions to dismiss the case.
The Electric Avenue copyright case
The Parties: Eddy Grant, the composer/performer behind the 80s disco-reggae mega-hit “Electric Avenue,” sued Donald Trump and his campaign in federal court in Manhattan in 2020.
The Issues: Grant is seeking $300,000 compensation for copyright infringement. His suit says that Trump made unauthorized use of the 1983 dance floor staple during the 2020 campaign. About 40 seconds of the song played in the background of a Biden-bashing animation that Trump posted to his Twitter account. The animation was viewed 13 million times before being taken down a month later.
Trump has countered that the animation was political satire and so exempt from copyright infringement claims. He’s also said that the campaign merely reposted the animation and have no idea where it came from.
What’s Next: There was an August 21 deposition completion deadline for both sides — including for Trump and Grant. Pretrial motions are not due to be filed until October.
Mary Trump v. Donald Trump
The Parties: The former president’s niece sued him and his siblings in 2020 in the state Supreme Court in Manhattan.
The Issues: Mary Trump alleges that she was cheated out of at least $10 million in a 2001 court settlement over the estate of her late father, Fred Trump, Sr.
Mary Trump alleges she only learned by helping with a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times article that she’d been defrauded by her Uncle Donald, her aunt, Maryanne Trump Barry, and the late Robert Trump, whose estate is named as a defendant.
The Times’ 18-month investigation “revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges,” the Pulitzer Committee said in praising the piece. Lawyers for the Trumps have countered that it’s far too late for Mary Trump to sue over a 2001 settlement that she had knowingly participated in.
What’s next: The defendants’ motion to dismiss, including on statute of limitations grounds, is still pending.
Lawsuits brought by Trump
Donald Trump v. Mary Trump
The Parties: The former president counter-sued his niece Mary Trump — and the New York Times — in 2021 in New York state Supreme Court in Dutchess County.
The Issues: Mary Trump, the Times and three of its reporters “maliciously conspired” against him, Trump alleges, by collaborating with the Times on its expose of and breaching the confidentiality of the family’s 2001 settlement of the estate of Mary Trump’s father, Fred Trump, Sr.
What’s Next: Mary Trump’s motion to dismiss is pending in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, where the case has since been transferred to.
Donald Trump v. Hillary Clinton
The Parties: Trump has sued Hillary Clinton, her campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and prominent Democrats including former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and former Clinton campaign chair John Podesta in a federal court in southern Florida in March, 2022.
The Issues: Trump alleged in this unusual use of federal racketeering statutes that Clinton and her campaign staff conspired to harm his 2016 run for president by promoting a “contrived Trump-Russia link.”
The defendants succeeded in getting the massive lawsuit dismissed in September; a federal judge in Florida said the suit was structurally flawed and called it “a two-hundred-page political manifesto” in which Trump detailed “his grievances against those that have opposed him.”
What’s Next: Trump’s side has promised to appeal the dismissal.