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Citizen Trump faces slew of legal cases certain to make his position precarious

Jan 27,2021 - Last updated at Jan 27,2021

No longer protected from prosecution by presidential immunity, citizen Trump faces a slew of legal cases certain to make his position precarious. Some cases arose before estate magnate Donald Trump won election in 2016, others cover his behaviour during his time in the White House, and there could be more litigation arising from his ongoing behaviour.

New York prosecutors have investigated allegations of dubious financial practices by the Trump Organisation, his family firm, which could include falsifying records and bank, insurance and tax fraud. Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen accused his boss of providing high valuations of properties when seeking bank loans and of lowering values on tax returns. On personal finances, the New York Times, which managed to secure his tax returns for more than a decade, reported that in 2016 and 2017 (the year he became president), Trump paid only $750 in taxes.  

Before the 2016 election, Cohen testified that on behalf of candidate Trump he had paid a total of $280,000 to two women to keep silent about sexual affairs with him. Prosecutors charged that the payments amounted to campaign finance violations because they were ruled to be donations exceeding the limit of $2,700.

New York prosecutors are also investigating Trump's inauguration committee, which raised $107 million, to see if it accepted illegal foreign funding, misspent funds or traded donations for access to Trump while president.

The most serious pre-2016 election accusation against Trump is that his campaign colluded with Russia and WikiLeaks with the aim of undermining his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton and that Trump obstructed the probe. He was not exonerated by an investigation.

While in office and ahead of the 2020 election, Trump exerted pressure on Ukraine to declare its intention to investigate Democratic candidate Joe Biden for alleged connections, through his son Hunter Biden, with a Ukrainian firm accused of corruption. Trump illegally withheld nearly $400 million in congressionally appropriated security aid at a time armed insurgents backed by Russia were battling that country's forces. This abuse of presidential power for personal gain was not only an impeachable "high crime or midemeanour" but may also have breached federal criminal law. This case led to Trump's impeachment by the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives but he was acquitted in the trial by the Republican-controlled Senate.

In the run-up to last November's presidential poll, Trump harped continuously on the risks posed by mail-in ballots although they should have been the choice of a majority of voters seeking to avoid coronavirus contagion by going to the polls in person.  He and his advisers believed that more Democrats than Republicans voted early by mail. He and his handlers sought to create doubt about the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, thereby depriving millions of their right to vote. He redoubled his assault on mail-in ballots once it became clear that Biden was leading in the presiden tial race and adopted the charge that the election had been "stolen". Without evidence, Trump also claimed that thousands of dead had voted, giving Biden his victory. Both accusations appealed to millions of Trump loyalists who still do not believe he lost the election even though Biden was inaugurated on January 20th and now occupies the White House.

Anticipating that Trump's efforts to overturn the result of the presidential election would  not work, his campaign paid $2.7 million to a number of firms and individuals involved the organisation of the January 6th protest which morphed into a mob assault on the Capitol while legislators were meeting to confirm Biden. The recipients of these funds did not attempt to conceal their roles as they appeared on the list of sponsors of the permit for that event granted by the authorities.

In mid-December, Trump summoned supporters to gather in Washington on that date to take part in a "wild" protest. Thousands flocked to the site near the White House where he greeted the crowd and urged participants to walk down to the Capitol. When said, "We're going to cheer on our brave [Republican] senators and Congressmen and women" to withhold confirmation of Biden. He called on his backers to "fight" and pledged never to concede. He dubbed Democrat successes in the elections "explosions of b…t."

At least 900  managed to break into the Capitol, disrupting the process of confirming Biden, threatening members of the legislature, destroying property, reading confidential papers and stealing trophies. Lawmakers, staff members, journalists and police feared for their lives. Five people, including a Capitol policeman, were killed and many were injured.

Trump initially refused to rein in the invaders, whom he called "great patriots", until compelled by advisers to urge them to go home. Vice president Mike Pence, whom some in the mob threatened with death by hanging, eventually completed the process of confirming Biden, although legislators were shocked and frightened by what happened.

This violence brought about Trump's second impeachment by the House. His second trial in the Senate begins on February 9th. If convicted, he could be barred from again holding office.

Despite his defeat in the election and multiple legal challenges, Trump remains defiant and ready to stand for the presidency again in 2024. His grip on the Republican party is dividing it into Trumpites and traditional Republicans who want to see him gone. Unfortunately, Trump, wounded by becoming a "loser", is both determined to stay on and dangerous to cross.

Meanwhile, his residency in Palm Beach, Florida, is under challenge. Ironically, although he spent more than 130 days while in office at his Mar-a-Largo resort, which he called his "Winter White House", his neighbours have objected to Trump as a permanent fixture. They cite the 1993 agreement granting him permission to convert the historic 1927 mansion and grounds into a private club. This was allowed if it would not be used as a private residence. According to this deal, guests could stay overnight for only 21 days, and no longer than seven days at a time.

Neighbours have long complained about Trump who has repeatedly flouted the traditions of this exclusive residential island but only reacted with a threat to sue when in 2019 he shifted his permanent domicile from New York City to Palm Beach.  While it is expected that he will find away around the ban, his peace-seeking neighbours are certain to complain about disruptions from his secret service protection and, if he decides to carry on with political campaigning, from a constant stream of employees, lawyers and loyalists.

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