Former President Trump’s White House chief of staff burned numerous documents at the tail end of the administration out of fear that the “deep state” would obtain them, his former assistant claims in a new memoir. A Colorado judge issues a protective order in the case that will decide whether Trump’s name can appear on the ballot and former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani is hit with more court-ordered sanctions.
Jan. 6 election interference
Meadows burned numerous documents at the end of Trump’s presidency, former aide says in new memoir
In the final days of Trump’s presidency, Meadows set about destroying potentially incriminating documents by burning them in his fireplace, according to Hutchinson’s forthcoming memoir, “Enough,” Insider reported.
The smoke from the documents caused Meadows’s wife to complain that it had become expensive to try to dry-clean the “bonfire” aroma from his suits, according to the book.
Hutchinson told the New York Times that Meadows feared that the documents might fall into the hands of the so-called deep state, meaning agencies like the FBI or the Department of Justice.
Why it matters: Hutchinson’s testimony before the House Jan. 6 select committee proved some of the most detailed regarding Trump’s actions leading up to the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Her testimony will almost certainly play a central role in Smith’s prosecution of Trump. Meadows has been charged with two felonies linked to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.
Colorado judge issues protective order in 14th Amendment case to keep Trump off ballot
Key players: District Judge Sarah Wallace
In the first significant legal challenge that could keep Trump’s name from appearing on the ballot in the 2024 presidential election, Colorado Judge Wallace issued a protective order Friday that prohibits threats and intimidation in the case for those involved, including herself, the Associated Press reported.
“I 100% understand everybody's concerns for the parties, the lawyers, and frankly myself and my staff based on what we’ve seen in other cases,” Wallace said of the order.
The case brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington argues that Trump should be prevented from another White House run because the 14th Amendment to the Constitution bars those who have “engaged in insurrection” from holding office.
Wallace has set a date of Oct. 30 to hold a hearing to decide whether Trump should be removed from ballots in Colorado.
Why it matters: Whatever Wallace decides will likely be appealed up to the Colorado Supreme Court and, after that, the U.S. Supreme Court. The protective order prohibits Trump or other parties in the case from making threats or intimidating statements.
Georgia election interference
Judge sanctions Giuliani an additional $104,000 after he fails to cover plaintiffs legal fees
Citing Giuliani’s failure to pay more than $132,000 in court-ordered fees to Freeman and Moss, who have sued the former New York mayor for defamation stemming from his false claims that they manipulated vote totals in the 2020 presidential election, Howell hit Giuliani with an additional fine of $104,000, CNN reported.
Giuliani has already been found liable for defamation against Freeman and Moss. On Dec. 11, the trial will begin to decide how much he will have to pay the two women.
Why it matters: As well as facing mounting legal bills and sanctions and putting his New York apartment up for sale to help cover them, Giuliani has been sued by his former lawyers for $1.4 million in unpaid fees, he will also need to defend himself in Fulton County, Ga., where he is charged with 13 felonies stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Friday, Sept. 22
A New York judge hears dueling arguments Friday on whether to find former President Donald Trump, his adult sons and his business liable for financial fraud, as well as whether to dismiss the case outright. Two Georgia election workers file a motion claiming that former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani disregarded a judge’s order, and pro-Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro wants his emails to other co-defendants kept out of his trial in Georgia.
New York financial fraud civil case
Judge hears arguments for summary judgment, dismissal in Trump $250 million fraud case
Engoron heard arguments Friday from lawyers for James, who are asking the judge to issue a summary judgment that Trump, his adult sons and his business are liable for fraud ahead of the scheduled Oct. 2 start of the former president’s $250 million financial fraud trial, Reuters reported.
Trump’s lawyers also argued in court that the judge should dismiss all the charges against the defendants, saying that most of the charges fell outside the statute of limitations and that there was insufficient evidence to bring the case to trial.
Engoron, who has said he expects the New York trial to last three months, is expected to rule on the motions Tuesday.
Claiming Enroron is biased against the former president by not granting a request to delay the trial, Trump’s lawyers have also sought to get the judge removed from the case.
After an appellate court judge temporarily halted the trial, a five-judge appeals court will rule next week on whether it should continue.
Why it matters: A ruling by Engoron or the appellate court in Trump’s favor could quash or limit the charges against him. A summary judgment that finds the defendants liable, however, could cost the former president hundreds of millions of dollars and prevent the Trump Organization from operating in New York.
Georgia election interference
Giuliani snubbed judge’s order to pay legal fees and turn over evidence, Georgia election workers argue
In a court papers filed Thursday, lawyers for Freeman and Moss argued that Giuliani had failed to comply with an order by Howell to turn over more evidence to the plaintiffs and to pay their legal fees, NBC News reported.
Last month Howell granted summary judgment that found Giuliani liable for defamation against the two poll workers. At that time, she ordered the former New York mayor to hand over personal and business financial documents and to pay more than $130,000 in legal bills and other costs in the case.
Giuliani will go on trial Dec. 11 to determine the total amount he must pay the two women he falsely accused of manipulating election results in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
Why it matters: If the judge finds Giuliani did flout her orders, he could face further financial sanctions. He faces mounting legal bills and is being sued for $1.36 million in unpaid legal fees by the law firm that represented him as the investigations into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election took place.
Cheseboro asks court to suppress his emails to Giuliani and Eastman during Georgia trial
Lawyers for Chesebro, who has been charged with eight felony counts for his role in the alleged plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia, filed a motion Thursday asking the court to bar the use of five legal memos and emails he wrote to co-defendants Giuliani and Eastman, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Chesebro’s lawyers called the memos and emails “privileged communications between lawyers representing a client.”
According to the criminal indictment filed by Willis, one email from Chesebro to Eastman “outlined multiple strategies for disrupting and delaying the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.”
Chesebro and former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell will be the first of 19 defendants charged in Fulton County to have their trial begin, on Oct. 23.
Why it matters: Trump’s allies, many of whom have been charged in Georgia, have lost numerous attempts to invoke executive privilege claims to prevent evidence from being gathered or presented in court.
Thursday, Sept. 21
Rudy Giuliani must appear in a Georgia courtroom to learn how much money he will have to pay two election workers he was found liable for defaming in the aftermath of the 2020 election. The former Trump lawyer also denied groping allegations made by a former assistant to the president’s chief of staff, while Peter Navarro, Trump’s former trade adviser, said the former president has chipped in $300,000 to help pay for his legal defense.
Georgia election interference
Judge sets start date for Giuliani defamation damages trial
Howell, who found Giuliani liable for defaming Freeman and Moss after falsely spreading a conspiracy theory that they had tampered with voting machine results in 2020, set Dec. 11 as the start date of the trial that will determine the amount of damages the former New York mayor must pay the two women, ABC News reported.
The trial will take three to five days to decide, Howell estimated.
Giuliani is already on the hook for more than $130,000 in legal fees racked up by Freeman and Moss.
Giuliani’s legal bills continue to mount. On Tuesday, his former lawyers sued him for $1.4 million in unpaid legal bills.
Why it matters: The false claims that workers had tampered with the 2020 election results is just one of many findings noted in Willis’s indictments of Trump, Giuliani and 17 others charged in Georgia. Trump, the indictment notes, called Freeman a “professional vote scammer.”
Jan. 6 election interference
Giuliani calls Hutchison groping allegation ‘totally absurd’
In a Wednesday interview with Newsmax, Giuliani called Hutchinson’s allegation that he groped her on Jan. 6, 2021, “totally absurd,” HuffPost reported.
Hutchinson recounts the alleged incident in a forthcoming memoir titled “Enough.” She writes that in the backstage area before Trump addressed his supporters, Giuliani wrapped “one arm around my body, closing the space that was separating us. I feel his stack of documents press into the small of my back. ... His hand slips under my blazer, then my skirt.”
Giuliani, who is being sued for $2 million dollars in unpaid wages by a former employee who alleges he coerced her into having sex with him, scoffed at Hutchinson’s claims.
“She claims that I groped her in a tent on January 6, where all the people went in that were very, very cold as a result of the president’s speech. I’m gonna grope somebody? With 100 people. First of all, I’m not gonna grope somebody at all.” Giuliani told Newsmax, adding, “And number two, in front of like 100 people?”
Why it matters: While the groping claim is tangential to the federal election interference charges Trump faces, Hutchinson and Giuliani will both likely be called to testify in Smith’s case against the former president.
Peter Navarro: Trump pitched in $300,000 for legal defense
Key players: former Trump administration trade adviser Peter Navarro
Navarro, who was found guilty of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena issued by the House Jan. 6 select committee, said in a Wednesday interview with MSNBC that Trump had so far chipped in $300,000 to help him pay his legal bills, The Hill reported.
While Navarro plans to appeal the contempt-of-Congress verdict, he has so far amassed legal bills exceeding $600,000.
Through a crowd-funding effort, Navarro has raised just over $620,000, but he told MSNBC that he expected to spend over $1 million defending himself.
Citing executive privilege, Navarro refused to testify before Congress about his discussions with Trump about the 2020 election.
Why it matters: The courts have handed Trump and his associates a series of losses on the question of executive privilege, obliging former administration figures to testify. Navarro has portrayed himself as a victim of efforts by anti-Trump prosecutors to bankrupt him.
Wednesday, Sept. 20
Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis revealed in a Wednesday court filing that pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood will testify in the case against the former president and 18 other defendants. Three so-called fake electors charged in Georgia seek to have their cases moved to federal court, and the judge handling the sprawling indictment says defendants Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell are entitled to interview members of the grand jury that voted to indict them.
Georgia election interference
Former pro-Trump lawyer to testify for prosecution
“Lin Wood is a witness for the State in the present case,” a court filing by Willis’s office that was made public Wednesday revealed.
Wood attempted to have the 2020 election results overturned on behalf of Trump, and a report released earlier this month showed that the special grand jury in Fulton County voted in favor of indicting him in the case but that Willis opted not to.
Facing the prospect of disbarment in Georgia, Wood gave up his law license in July, the New Republic reported.
In a statement posted to social media, Wood denied that he had "flipped" on Trump.
Why it matters: Wood is the second known Trump ally to agree to testify for prosecutors who have brought criminal charges against the former president. Mar-a-Lago information technology worker Yuscil Taveras changed the testimony he gave in connection with the investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents and agreed earlier this month to testify for special counsel Jack Smith’s team.
3 ‘fake electors’ seek to move trial to federal court
Key players: Former Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer, Republican state Sen. Shawn Still, former Coffee County, Ga., GOP Chairwoman Cathy Latham, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones
Shafer, Still and Latham, all of whom were charged with multiple felonies in the scheme to put forth an alternate slate of state electors in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia, argued Wednesday that their cases should be moved from state to federal court, NBC News reported.
So far, co-defendants Meadows and Clark are also seeking to have their cases moved to federal court, where they would be afforded a larger jury pool. Judge Jones denied Meadows’s request. Meadows has since filed an appeal. Clark put in his own request on Monday, but Jones has yet to rule.
Shafer, Still and Latham all face charges that include violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, forgery and impersonating a public officer in connection with their attempt at passing themselves off as legitimate state electors.
Why it matters: Meadows and Clark argue that the actions they undertook to overturn the Georgia election results were part of their federal duties because Trump directed them to do so. But Shafer, Still and Latham did not hold any official position with the Trump administration, making their bid to have their cases moved to federal court even less likely to win.
Judge allows Chesebro, Powell to interview grand jury members
McAfee ruled Tuesday that Georgia co-defendants Chesebro and Powell, who were granted requests for a speedy trial that will begin on Oct. 23, will be allowed to interview people who served on the special grand jury that voted to indict them, UPI reported.
Lawyers for Chesebro and Powell argued that the interviews were necessary to determine whether the votes to indict their clients had been “properly returned.”
Arguing that releasing the identities of the special grand jurors posed a threat to their safety and privacy, Willis had sought to block those interviews from taking place.
“Setting aside scenarios involving harassment of some kind, the desire to simply talk to the grand jurors is not ‘illegal,’” McAfee wrote in his ruling.
But McAfee also set some limits, writing that the interviews with the former grand jurors would need to be voluntary and that the defendants could not push jurors to reveal their deliberations.
Why it matters: With Chesebro and Powell being the first ones to be tried in Georgia, the verdict in their case will weigh heavily on those that follow. If the interviews yield credible evidence that the indictments were not properly rendered, that will give the defendants an early win.
Tuesday, Sept. 19
Former President Donald Trump’s White House secretary and aide, Molly Michael, testifies about his handling of classified documents, and his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani is sued by the law firm that helped defend him.
Former Trump aide testifies about Trump’s instructions on classified documents
Michael, a former Trump aide, testified to federal prosecutors on Smith’s team that the former president directed her not to discuss boxes full of classified material that he took with him from the White House to his Florida home and country club , sources familiar with the testimony told ABC News.
“You don’t know anything about the boxes,” Trump reportedly told Michael.
Michael, who is widely believed to be “Employee 2” in Smith’s indictment of Trump, also testified that Trump used some documents with classified markings as scrap paper “to-do” lists.
Trump has been charged with 34 felonies stemming from his handling of classified materials after leaving the White House and his attempts to thwart federal investigators.
Two other Trump employees, Nauta and De Oliveira, have also been charged.
Why it matters: The testimony given by Michael certainly contradicts what Nauta told investigators. It also further implicates the former president on charges that he mishandled the documents and lied to investigators about them.
Georgia election interference
Law firm sues Giuliani for $1.4 million in unpaid legal fees
Key players: Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, lawyer Bob Costello
New York law firm Davidoff Hutcher & Citron has filed a lawsuit against Giuliani to try to recover $1.4 million in unpaid legal fees related to the former New York mayor’s work to overturn the results of the 2020 election on behalf of Trump, Reuters reported.
Costello represented Giuliani in federal and state investigations into his efforts to reverse the election results.
The firm says in the lawsuit that Giuliani only paid $214,000 of the nearly $1.6 million he racked up in legal bills.
"I can't express how personally hurt I am by what Bob Costello has done," Giuliani said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Trump hosted a $100,000-a-plate fundraiser, the Associated Press reported, to help cover Giuliani’s legal bills; it brought in a reported $1 million.
Why it matters: Giuliani’s financial and legal woes continue to mount. He is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in Smith’s federal election interference case against Trump and could yet be charged. Damages in the Georgia election workers case have yet to be announced, but Giuliani has already been ordered to pay more than $130,000 in legal expenses for the workers and fines in that case.
Monday, Sept. 18
The former president’s lawyers file more documents to back their claim that a judge is biased against him. Trump concedes in an interview that he was told his election claims had no merit, and another former member of his administration seeks to have his case moved to federal court.
Jan. 6 election interference
Trump lawyers submit supporting materials appeal in bid for judge’s recusal
One week after filing a motion for Judge Tanya Chutkan to recuse herself from handling Trump’s federal election interference case, lawyers for the former president submitted new documents to support their claim that Chutkan was biased against Trump, CBS News reported.
“The public must have confidence that President Trump’s constitutional rights are being protected by an unbiased judicial officer,” the former president's lawyers wrote in supporting documents filed late Sunday.
In their new filing, Trump’s lawyers noted that Chutkan, who had sentenced some Jan. 6 rioters to prison had referred to Trump, saying “blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day.”
Another alleged example of Chutkan’s bias, Trump’s lawyers wrote, was her remark that “a president is not king.”
In his own filing last week arguing the judge should not recuse herself, Smith noted that Chutkan’s statements were both factually true, and made in the context of responding to arguments made by defendants who claimed they were only acting on Jan. 6, 2021, at the direction of the former president.
Why it matters: Ultimately, Chutkan herself will decide whether to recuse, and is under no specific deadline to do so. If she decides to remain on the case, Trump’s lawyers, who have repeatedly sought to paint prosecutors and judges as biased against them, could file a long-shot appeal to have her removed.
On “Meet the Press,” Trump acknowledges being told election was not rigged
In an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump acknowledged that multiple people inside the government had told him that the 2020 presidential election was not marred by fraud, CNN reported.
Rather than heed the findings of people like Pence and Barr, who informed Trump that the election was legitimate, Trump sought out other opinions and came to his own conclusion.
“I was listening to different people, and when I added it all up, the election was rigged,” Trump told Welker, adding. “You know who I listen to? Myself. I saw what happened.”
The Justice Department indictment of Trump notes that the former president had been informed multiple times that the claims of fraud were not “but the defendant disseminated them anyway – to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”
Why it matters: Prosecutors argue that Trump knowingly lied about the election results. By admitting that he was told that fraud did not cost him victory, Trump is acknowledging that he was aware of evidence showing his claims did not add up.
Georgia election interference
Judge skeptical as another former Trump official seeks to move Fulton County charges to federal court
Lawyers for Clark argued Monday that a judge should move the Fulton County felony charges against him to federal court, NBC News reported.
Clark is the second former Trump administration official charged in the 2020 election interference case in Georgia to seek the venue change. Jones has already denied Meadows’ request to move his case to federal court and Meadows is appealing that ruling.
MacDougald argued Clark was acting in his official capacity when he drafted a letter that sought to convince Georgia election officials that voter fraud may have marred the 2020 election results in the state.
Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen refused to send the letter, saying there was no evidence of fraud on that scale, and prosecutors argued that Clark was acting well outside of his official duties when he wrote the letter.
Unlike Meadows, Clark did not testify at his hearing on Monday.
Why it matters: Jones, who already ruled against Meadows, seemed skeptical of the arguments made by MacDougald and refused a request to allow Clark to submit a sworn statement in the case without appearing in person.
Friday, Sept. 15
The former president offers a defense for his handling of classified documents that is undercut by his own past statements. An appellate judge puts a temporary halt on Trump’s financial fraud trial, and New York’s attorney general says she plans to call Trump and his adult sons as witnesses.
Classified documents criminal trial
In interview, Trump says he was 'allowed to take' classified documents
On Thursday, Kelly aired an in-depth interview with Trump in which the former president offered a curious defense for his hoarding of classified documents after leaving the White House, HuffPost reported.
“I’m allowed to have these documents. I’m allowed to take these documents, classified or not classified. And, frankly, when I have them, they become unclassified. People think you have to go through a ritual. You don’t, at least in my opinion,” Trump told Kelly of his apparent misconception of the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which clarifies that a former president is not entitled to simply hold on to classified documents.
Smith has charged Trump with 32 counts of willfully retaining national defense information under the Espionage Act as well as eight counts stemming from his efforts to obstruct the federal investigation into his handling of the documents.
Two Mar-a-Lago employees, De Oliviera and Nauta, have been charged with attempting to delete security camera footage sought by investigators.
Multiple former Trump administration officials have said they have no recollection of the former president having declassified any documents, and Trump himself is captured on tape acknowledging that he could not do so after leaving office.
Why it matters: Remarks made in interviews or in social media posts by Trump will almost certainly be used in the case against him.
New York financial fraud civil trial
Judge temporarily halts New York financial fraud case after Trump lawyers challenge statute of limitations
New York state appellate court judge Friedman on Thursday temporarily halted the proceedings in Trump’s New York financial fraud trial, potentially delaying the Oct. 2 start date, CNN reported.
Trump’s lawyers filed a last-minute lawsuit against Engoron, who is overseeing the case brought by James that accused him of overstepping his authority because he had not yet ruled on whether the statute of limitations had expired on many of the claims against the former president, his adult sons and the Trump organization.
Friedman said the appeals court would reach a decision on the lawsuit by Sept. 25.
Why it matters: Trump’s lawyers have so far been unsuccessful in their attempts to have Engoron replaced. The appellate court’s decision could change that, or it could signal that the case is ready to move forward.
N.Y. AG plans to call Trump, his sons and business associates as witnesses
In a court filing uncovered by the Daily Beast, James proposed a list of 57 possible witnesses in her $250 million financial fraud trial of the former president, his adult sons and his business.
The list includes Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Trump Organization executives and the bankers with whom the company did business.
Why it matters: If Engoron approves the witness lists for the defense and the prosecution in their current state, Trump and his sons could be forced to take the stand.
Thursday, Sept. 14
A judge ruled Thursday that all 19 of the criminal defendants in Georgia will not be tried in a single case. The names of 30 unindicted co-conspirators in the case will be revealed to lawyers for the defense. And an appeals court rules that federal prosecutors cannot obtain a Congressman’s phone records of calls with other lawmakers regarding the 2020 election.
Georgia election interference
Judge severs October trial for Powell and Chesebro from Trump and 16 others charged
McAfee ruled Thursday that Trump and 16 others charged by Willis for their attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia would be tried separately from Powell and Chesebro, CBS News reported.
Powell and Chesebro both requested a speedy trial, which is scheduled to begin on Oct. 23. Willis had asked McAfee to rule that all 19 defendants could be tried together starting on that date.
McAfee also denied requests by Powell and Chesebro to be tried separately from each other.
“Beginning with the logistical concerns, the Fulton County Courthouse simply contains no courtroom adequately large enough to hold all 19 defendants, their multiple attorneys and support staff, the sheriff’s deputies, court personnel, and the State’s prosecutorial team,” McAfee wrote in his ruling. “Relocating to another, larger venue raises security concerns that cannot be rapidly addressed.”
McAfee did not set a date for the start of the trial for the remaining 17 people charged, including Trump, and noted that “additional severances may follow.”
Why it matters: Prosecutors have estimated that a single trial for all the defendants could last four months. In her own court filing, Willis noted that “breaking this case up into multiple lengthy trials would create an enormous strain on the judicial resources of the Fulton County Superior Court.” Trump’s strategy in all of the cases brought against him is to delay the proceedings until after the 2024 presidential election.
Prosecutors to share names of 30 unindicted co-conspirators with defense lawyers
Key players: Willis, Judge McAfee, Chesebro lawyer Scott Grubman, Powell attorney Brian Rafferty
Willis agreed during a Thursday court hearing to release the identities of 30 unnamed and unindicted co-conspirators to lawyers representing the 19 people charged with attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia, the Independent reported.
Lawyers Grubman and Rafferty had asked McAfee to compel Willis to provide that information as part of discovery for their Oct. 23 trial.
Willis will request a protective order to keep those names from being made public.
Why it matters: A report was made public last week that showed that the special grand jury voted to charge 39 people with nearly 160 criminal counts in the sprawling case. Willis opted to charge far fewer individuals, but those unindicted co-conspirators will likely be called to testify during the trials for the 19 who were indicted.
Jan. 6 election interference
Appeals court blocks prosecutors from obtaining Rep. Scott Perry’s phone records
Key players: Special counsel Jack Smith, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa.
A ruling made public Wednesday by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals prevents federal prosecutors on Smith’s team from obtaining phone records pertaining to Perry’s discussions with other lawmakers about the 2020 election, CNN reported.
Perry’s phone was seized by the FBI in August 2022. Smith has sought access to his phone records as part of his investigation into efforts to illegally overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
While the appeals court found that conversations about the election between members of Congress were protected from scrutiny by prosecutors, it also ruled that prosecutors may still be able to access Perry’s conversations and texts with Trump and members of his administration.
Perry is known to have pressured the White House to challenge the election results in Pennsylvania.
Why it matters: By defining conversations between lawmakers about elections as under the scope of official duties, the appeals court took away a potential avenue of investigation for Smith and his team.
Wed. Sept. 13
One judge ruled Trump can’t yet look at classified documents in the Mar-a-Lago case. Another rejected the former president’s bid to move a legal challenge to his candidacy to federal court, and Trump waived his right to a speedy trial in Georgia.
Judge rules Trump and his lawyers can’t see or discuss classified documents at Mar-a-Lago — for now
Cannon issued a ruling made public Wednesday that placed some restrictions on how and where Trump and his lawyers could discuss and view classified documents at the heart of the Justice Department’s case against the former president, The Hill reported.
Trump’s lawyers had asked Cannon to allow them to create a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) at Mar-a-Lago so they could view documents there to prepare for trial. Smith scoffed at this request, noting that Mar-a-Lago is the scene where the bulk of the 40 criminal counts he has charged Trump with were committed.
Cannon ruled that only a SCIF operated by the U.S. government could be used by the defense to review and discuss the classified documents at issue in the case. But the judge, who was appointed to the federal bench by Trump, did not rule out the establishment of a SCIF at Mar-a-Lago in the future.
Why it matters: After coming under fire for some prior rulings in the documents matter that seemed to favor Trump, Cannon left the question of whether a SCIF could be set up at Mar-a-Lago to a chief information security officer, who would act as a neutral party.
Federal election interference
Judge rejects Trump appeal to move Colorado 14th Amendment lawsuit to federal court
Key players: U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold
On Tuesday, Brimmer shot down Trump’s request that a case brought by six Colorado voters to block Trump from appearing on presidential ballots due to his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol be moved to federal court, NBC News reported.
The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that no person shall be allowed to hold office who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.”
Brimmer said in his four-page ruling that Trump and his lawyers had not properly served Griswold or obtained her consent for the removal of the case. As a result, he sent the case back to the state court in Denver County.
Why it matters: A growing number of 14th Amendment legal challenges are being put forth in state courts to keep Trump’s name from appearing on ballots.
Read more on Yahoo News: Should Trump be barred from running for president?
Georgia election interference
Trump waives right to speedy trial
In a court filing Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers waived his right to a speedy trial, the Associated Press reported.
Willis is seeking to try all 19 defendants in her sprawling election interference case starting on Oct. 23. So far, McAfee has agreed to that start date for two defendants — Powell and Chesebro — who requested a speedy trial.
Defendants in Georgia have the right to demand that their cases be tried without delay.
Why it matters: Trump has consistently sought to delay the proceedings in the criminal and civil cases against him until after the 2024 election.
Tuesday, Sept. 12
Lawyers for the former president want a new judge in the Jan. 6 election interference case, charges dismissed in Georgia, and delays in the criminal proceedings in New York and a second defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who says Trump sexually assaulted her.
Jan. 6 election interference
Trump seeks recusal of Jan. 6 case judge
Key players: Trump lawyers Todd Blanche and John Lauro, Judge Tanya Chutkan
In a long-shot Monday court filing, Trump’s lawyers asked Chutkan to recuse herself from the federal election interference and obstruction case because she appeared prejudiced against the former president, Politico reported.
“Although Judge Chutkan may genuinely intend to give President Trump a fair trial — and may believe that she can do so — her public statements unavoidably taint these proceedings, regardless of outcome,” Trump lawyers Todd Blanche and John Lauro wrote in the filing.
Chutkan has overseen many of the Justice Department’s cases against those who rioted at the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021. In an October sentencing hearing for two of those found guilty, she noted that the rioters “were there in fealty, in loyalty, to one man — not the Constitution,” adding, “It’s a blind loyalty to one person who, by the way, remains free to this day.”
In response to the recusal motion, Chutkan gave prosecutors in the case until Thursday to submit their reply, the Independent reported.
Why it matters: The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1994 that “only in the rarest of circumstances” can a judge be forced to recuse. Chutkan will make the decision as to whether to step aside, and most experts agree she is unlikely to do so.
Georgia election interference
Trump asks judge in Georgia to dismiss state charges against him
Following the lead of Giuliani, Chesbro and Smith, lawyers for Trump submitted a court filing Monday asking for McAfee to toss the Georgia indictment against him due to deficiencies in the case, CNN reported.
Trump is charged with 13 felonies in Georgia stemming from his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss there, including a violation of the state’s RICO Act.
Such motions are common before criminal trials get underway, but are rarely successful.
Why it matters: The 19 co-defendants are each pursuing their own defense to the charges made against them, and a court victory by one of them would likely usher in similar challenges by the others.
New York hush money case
Judge in New York hush money civil case signals willingness to reschedule trial
Though Merchan rejected a May motion by Trump’s lawyers for him to recuse himself from the financial fraud and hush money payment trial against the former president, he signaled Monday that he would be willing to move the start date of the trial due to possible scheduling conflicts with Trump’s other cases, ABC News reported.
The New York Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Blanche to remove Merchan from the case over his alleged “preconceived bias” against the former president.
Why it matters: Trump’s strategy in the four criminal cases in which he has been indicted is to push them beyond the Nov. 2024 presidential election. Polls show that a guilty verdict could significantly dampen Trump’s political support.
E. Jean Carroll defamation case
Trump lawyers ask appeals court to delay second defamation trial
Key players: Trump attorney Alina Habba, Judge Lewis Kaplan, Second U.S. Court of Appeals
Trump’s lawyers asked an appeals court to pause E. Jean Carroll’s pending defamation trial so that the former president could have more time to submit an immunity defense, ABC News reported.
“With a trial scheduled for January 15, it is imperative that this court stays all district court proceedings until it resolves whether a president may raise his immunity defense,” Trump lawyer Alina Habba told the Second U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
Kaplan has already ruled that Trump does not deserve presidential immunity in the case because he waited three years to try to invoke it.
Why it matters: Kaplan has ruled that the trial is simply to decide how much money Trump will owe Carroll, CBS News reported. In May, a jury found Trump liable for defamation and sexual battery against Carroll stemming from an incident in a New York department in the 1990s.
Monday, Sept. 11
A case moves forward to bar Trump from appearing on the ballot in Colorado, the former White House chief of staff files a change-of-venue appeal and the New York financial fraud trial against the former president will last for nearly three months.
Georgia election interference
Key players: Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones
Following a ruling by Jones that denied Meadows’s attempt to move his case, which stems from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia, to federal court, lawyers for the former White House chief of staff filed an appeal with the 11th Circuit, Reuters reported.
Charged along with Trump and 17 others, Meadows faces two felony counts: a violation of Georgia’s RICO Act, which covers organized crime, and solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer.
Trump is also said to be considering attempting to change the venue for his trial to federal court, which would expand the potential jury pool.
Why it matters: A loss on appeal would significantly diminish the chances that Meadows, Trump and the other defendants will be able to change the venue for their upcoming trials.
Jan. 6 election interference
Colorado secretary of state vows to pursue 14th Amendment challenge to Trump’s 2024 bid
Key player: Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold
In response to a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington that seeks to bar Trump from appearing on the Republican primary ballot, Griswold signaled her support for pursuing the case, The Hill reported.
“Section 3 of the 14th Amendment clearly lays out in very clear terms that if someone swears to uphold the Constitution, they are disqualified from holding office if they go and engage in insurrection, rebellion, or aid or comfort to the enemies of the Constitution,” Griswold said in a Saturday interview with MSNBC.
“And Donald Trump incited an insurrection, and there are big constitutional questions around that provision as to whether he is disqualified from the Colorado ballot,” Griswold continued. “So, we’ll see this litigation through, and ultimately I think it’s important for a court to weigh in to provide guidance.”
Trump has asked that the Colorado case be moved to federal court.
Why it matters: With 14th Amendment legal challenges to Trump’s candidacy being filed in multiple states, the U.S. Supreme Court could ultimately decide whether the former president is allowed to run again.
The Yahoo News 360: Should Trump be disqualified from running for president?
New York financial fraud
Trump financial fraud trial expected to last nearly 3 months, judge says
Engoron, the judge overseeing the civil trial in New York over charges that Trump, his adult sons and his business illegally overvalued the worth of their business assets, said Friday that the case would last nearly three months, AFP reported.
Engoron has already refused to delay the start of the trial, which is scheduled to begin on Oct. 2 in Manhattan and end on Dec. 22.
In a court filing, James has asked Engoron to issue a summary judgment that Trump, his sons and business did illegally inflate the value of their business holdings and has also asked the judge to sanction Trump for “frivolous conduct” in the case.
Why it matters: The length of the trial ensures that it will generate headlines through Dec. 22, just prior to the start of the presidential primary season.
Friday, Sept. 8
The special grand jury report in Fulton County, Ga., reveals that many others narrowly avoided being indicted. Donald Trump held a New Jersey fundraiser Thursday for one of his co-defendants in Georgia, and New York’s attorney general says the former president inflated his net worth by billions of dollars every year.
Georgia election interference
Special grand jury recommended charges for Graham, 20 other Trump allies
Key players: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, former Trump adviser Michael Flynn, lawyer Boris Epshteyn, lawyer Lin Wood, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis
A special grand jury in Fulton County, Ga., recommended criminal charges be brought against Graham and 20 other Trump allies who ended up not being indicted by Willis, HuffPost reports.
Those revelations appear in the grand jury report on the investigation into the efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Ultimately, Willis did not include in her sprawling indictment Graham, Perdue, Loeffler, Flynn, Wood and others the grand jury voted to charge. Nineteen people, including Trump, have been charged with multiple felonies, including racketeering.
After losing a court challenge, Graham testified before the 21-person grand jury, which later voted 13-7 to indict him, with one member abstaining.
In a statement posted to his social media website, Truth Social, Trump said the release of the report has “ZERO credibility and badly taints Fani Willis and this whole political Witch Hunt.”
Why it matters: Some on the grand jury argued that for political figures like Graham, Perdue and Loeffler, “pandering to their political base” did not rise to “being guilty of a criminal conspiracy.” Willis, who has a reputation as a meticulous prosecutor, apparently agreed.
Trump hosted $100,000-a-plate fundraiser to help co-defendant Giuliani pay his legal bills
Key players: Lawyer Rudy Giuliani, his son Andrew Giuliani
On Thursday, Trump hosted a $100,000-per-person fundraiser to help Giuliani, his former attorney, pay his mounting legal bills, the Associated Press reported.
The event was held at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., and was expected to raise $1 million for Giuliani, according to Andrew Giuliani, the former New York mayor’s son, who told WABC radio, “It won’t be enough to get through this.”
Giuliani is facing 13 felony counts in Fulton County, Ga., for his efforts to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the state.
Why it matters: Trump had faced criticism from some of his co-defendants for not offering to help cover the costs of their legal bills. In July, Giuliani listed his Manhattan apartment for sale for a price of $6.5 million.
New York civil financial fraud
Prosecutors: Trump inflated his net worth by up to $3.6 billion per year
In a court filing Friday, James’s office said that Trump inflated his net worth by as much as $3.6 billion per year, ABC News reported.
Trump, his adult sons and his business regularly misled financial institutions by adding square footage to properties, ignoring development requirements and disregarding unfavorable appraisals, according to the filing.
“After factoring in these and other fundamental considerations that any informed buyer and seller in the marketplace would take into account, Mr. Trump’s net worth would be further substantially reduced by between $1.9 billion to $3.6 billion per year, which is still a conservative estimate,” the filing in the $250 million civil case states.
Trump and his sons have all pleaded not guilty in the case.
Why it matters: Engoron has scheduled a Sept. 22 hearing to decide whether to grant a summary judgment against Trump ahead of the Oct. 2 start of the trial. If he does so, the case will boil down to deciding how much money the former president, his family and business are liable to pay the state and whether they can continue to operate there.
Thursday, Sept. 7
Another former Trump official is found guilty of contempt of Congress. The Georgia prosecutor trying former President Donald Trump and his allies for their attempts to overturn the 2020 election results seeks to keep the identity of jurors secret. A former Mar-a-Lago employee avoids criminal charges by agreeing to testify for the prosecution and the New York financial fraud civil trial will not be delayed.
Jan. 6 election interference
Former Trump official found guilty of contempt of Congress charges
Navarro was found guilty Thursday of two counts of contempt of Congress for his refusal to offer testimony and documents after being subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, the Associated Press reported.
Each count carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison. Mehta set Navarro's sentencing date for Jan. 12.
Navarro is the second former Trump official to be found guilty of contempt of Congress. Last year, Bannon was sentenced to four months in jail for defying a House subpoena. His case is under appeal.
Why it matters: Navarro’s lawyers argued he did not have to turn over evidence or testify about his dealings with Trump because he was shielded by executive privilege claims. Those same arguments are likely to be made in special counsel Jack Smith's upcoming case against Trump.
Georgia election interference
Willis seeks protections for jurors
In a motion filed Wednesday, Willis asked McAfee to prohibit the 19 defendants, the news media and others from publishing images, videos, photos or drawings of those being considered as jurors in the sprawling criminal case regarding attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.
In the motion, Willis seeks to block the release of information about jurors — “specifically physical descriptions, telephone numbers, addresses, employer names and membership affiliations” — that could be used to intimidate or harm them, the Associated Press reported.
Why it matters: In the wake of the release of the 41-count indictment against Trump and his allies, the identities of the grand jury members were posted online and they were subject to harassment, including death threats, from supporters of the former president.
Classified documents case
Mar-a-Lago IT worker strikes deal with prosecutors
In a worrisome development for Trump, an IT worker at Mar-a-Lago has agreed to testify for the prosecution in the case brought by Smith regarding the former president’s handling of classified documents after leaving the White House.
In exchange for his testimony, Taveras will avoid being charged with crimes in the case, CNN reported.
Two other Trump employees, valet Nauta and property manager De Oliveira, have already been charged with helping Trump hide documents from federal investigators; both have pleaded not guilty.
Why it matters: Last month, Taveras reportedly admitted that he initially lied to Smith’s team. He has since told investigators that Trump requested that he delete potentially incriminating security camera footage regarding the documents.
New York financial fraud case
Judge rejects Trump request to delay start of civil trial
Engoron, the judge overseeing the $250 million financial fraud civil case brought against Trump, his two adult sons and the Trump Organization, rejected arguments made by the former president and his lawyers seeking to delay the start of the trial.
“Defendants’ arguments are completely without merit,” Engoron wrote in his ruling, ABC News reported.
James and the state of New York allege that Trump and his co-defendants committed fraud over decades by overinflating business assets in order to obtain favorable loan terms.
The trial is expected to begin Oct. 2.
Why it matters: In all the legal cases facing the former president, Trump’s lawyers have sought to delay the proceedings until after the 2024 presidential election. So far, those efforts have fallen flat.