PICTURE ABOVE WAS POSTED BY PAPA MIKE AND NOT BY THE SOURCE OF THIS ARTICLE
If things don’t go Donald Trump’s way on Election Day, the President may face more serious matters than how to pack up the West Wing.
Without some of the protections afforded him by the presidency, Trump will become vulnerable to multiple investigations looking into possible fraud in his financial business dealings as a private citizen — both as an individual and through his company. He faces defamation lawsuits sparked by his denials of accusations made by women who have alleged he assaulted them, including E. Jean Carroll, the former magazine columnist who has accused him of rape. And then there are claims he corrupted the presidency for his personal profits.
As President, Trump has been able to block and delay several of these investigations and lawsuits — including a yearlong fight over a subpoena for his tax returns — in part because of his official position. Many of those matters have wound through the courts and will come to a head whether he is reelected or not.
But with the polls showing that Democratic rival Joe Biden is leading in the race, the stakes become much higher for Trump if he loses the election. A raft of legal issues, including a criminal investigation by New York prosecutors, will come into focus in the weeks after Election Day.
“In every regard, his leaving office makes it easier for prosecutors and plaintiffs in civil cases to pursue their cases against him,” said Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor in the Manhattan US attorney’s office. “For example, he is claiming a higher protection from subpoenas in the criminal cases and also in the congressional subpoena cases, [and that] is based largely on the fact that he is President.”
Some have suggested a formal apparatus for investigating Trump after he leaves office. Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, has floated the creation of a “Presidential Crimes Commission,” made up of independent prosecutors who can examine “those who enabled a corrupt president,” as he put it in an August tweet. “Example 1: Sabotaging the mail to win an election.”
In the course of that probe, Trump has challenged a subpoena to his accounting firm for eight years of tax returns and financial records. Five courts have ruled the subpoena is valid, and last week Trump faced the latest setback when a federal appellate court denied his appeal, ruling that the grand jury subpoena was not overly broad or issued in bad faith. On Tuesday, Trump’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to block the enforcement of the subpoena to allow it time to appeal to the court. Trump already lost an appeal to the highest court in July, when it ruled that the president is not immune from a state grand jury subpoena.
New York prosecutors have said the tax records, working papers and documentation around business transactions are crucial to their investigation, which has been underway for more than a year.
There are legal questions as to whether a state prosecutor could file charges against a sitting president.
“He’s so powerful right now. They know that they can’t indict him right now so there is an incentive to build their case and get ready. I think what happens if he loses and leaves office that things will move very quickly,” said Jennifer Rodgers, a CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor.
Playing fast and loose with value of company assets
The New York attorney general is also proceeding with a separate civil investigation into the Trump Organization and whether it improperly inflated the value of certain assets in some instances and lowered them in others, in an effort to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.
Investigators are looking into the tax breaks taken at the Trump Seven Springs property in Bedford, New York, and the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. They are also investigating the valuation of a Trump office tower on Wall Street and the forgiveness of a more than $100 million loan on the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.
Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, sat remotely for a deposition with civil investigators last week. The lawyers are seeking additional depositions with Sheri Dillon, Trump’s longtime tax lawyer.
Lawyers for the Trump Organization have said in court documents that they believe New York Attorney General Letitia James is politically motivated, and they initially tried to push off Eric Trump’s deposition until after Election Day, but a judge rejected that request. The state lawyers, who have said they are not coordinating with any criminal law enforcement agency, said their investigation is civil in nature. But they could make a criminal referral if they believe there is enough evidence.
“With a big-time executive, when they do these multiple or hundreds of millions of dollar transactions, they’re always advised by lawyers and accountants,” said Dan Alonso, a former prosecutor with the Manhattan district attorney’s office. “There are a lot of layers between messing up the tax treatment and criminal liability on the part of the President, that’s a big leap.”
Opening the floodgates to lawsuits
If Trump is not reelected, he will lose the deference that courts have given to sitting presidents, opening the floodgates for many lawsuits.
The state attorneys general of Washington, DC, and Maryland sued the President in 2017, alleging he corruptly profited off his position by placing his financial interests above those of American citizens.
The state investigators prepared more than 30 subpoenas, including to the Trump Organization, and others relating to the Trump businesses. Trump sued to block the lawsuit, which alleges he violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution by virtue of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that foreign governments and others have spent at his properties. Trump has appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, which has not yet decided whether to hear the case. A second emoluments lawsuit brought by hotel and restaurant operators in New York is also pending.