If you need an updated scorecard on Donald Trump’s legal troubles, that’s completely understandable. In order of the potential seriousness of legal outcome, there are:
- New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into the Trump organization, which has already found the Trump Organization guilty of 17 counts of tax fraud that was “officially sanctioned by Trump,” with a bonus “secret” finding of contempt.
- Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation, which has already generated a felony conviction for Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg on 15 counts that included tax fraud, altering business records, and grand larceny. This one should be more dangerous to Trump, except that Bragg has already confessed that he’s reluctant to bring charges against the man who most deserves them.
- The House Select Committee referrals to the Department of Justice, which, while they don’t represent direct indictments, will provide another public airing of Trump’s participation in the planning for both the violent insurrection on Jan. 6 and the underlying attempt to overthrow the government in a plan that included Republican officials at the federal, state, and local level. This could help to encourage other investigations to go forward with charges, and add to the list of felonies facing Trump.
- The Department of Justice investigation into Trump’s theft and unlawful holding of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Charges for improper handling and use of federal documents are a given. So are multiple instances of obstruction. But the big ticket here is the evidence that Trump repeatedly and purposely violated the Espionage Act.
- The other DOJ case, this time directly involving actions related to Jan. 6. Charges emerging from this investigation are likely to start where the recent trial of Oath keepers members ended: with seditious conspiracy against the United States. Add on obstruction of Congress, interfering in a federal investigation, and as many counts of lying to federal officers as the DOJ feels like putting down on paper.
- Georgia. It may not seem that what’s happening in a single state could be more important than what’s going on at the DOJ. The danger may seem even smaller with a Southern state under a Republican governor and almost a whole slate of Republican officials. But Donald Trump did his best to screw the Peach State, and now it could give him the pit.
The investigations of Trump in Georgia almost deserve a spreadsheet of their own. Over the summer, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis convened a special grand jury to receive testimony related to Trump’s attempts at election interference in Georgia. That’s in addition to a larger state investigation that includes Trump’s “perfect call” to Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he tried to convince the AG into making up just enough votes (11,780) to hand Trump victory in the state, as well as another set of subpoenas issued in August to members of Trump’s election team and a former GOP county chair who were involved in a scheme to collect and copy both voting results and the software from voting machines in Coffee County, GA. These actions were coordinated by Trump attorney Sidney Powell, who is also the proud owner of some GBI paperwork.
Then there is the whole false elector scheme, in which Trump and his D.C. staff communicated with state and local officials to select a slate of unelected electors, looked for ways to get them some kind of pseudo-official recognition, and tried to get them to Washington in time to sew confusion on Jan. 6. That investigation goes deep into the state Republican Party and is currently a focal point for both the state and federal DOJ.
On Tuesday, Talking Points Memo took a look at the entire chaotic structure of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia. That review shows that Republicans were so eager to find a way to do in messy old democracy that what started as a false statement on right-wing TV in the morning, could be a plan in action by that afternoon.
Dick Morris, the former Bill Clinton strategist-turned-conservative pundit, had appeared on the far-right cable channel Newsmax that morning touting a plan to have Republican state legislatures “take over the counting process” in key states. Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), one of 34 members of Congress who messaged Meadows about overturning the vote, had sent Meadows a text highlighting Morris’ strategy. That evening, Meadows wrote Georgia state Sen. Marty Harbin and urged him to contact Morris to put the wheels in motion.
What was the basis for saying that state legislatures could simply determine the winner of the election and put forward any candidate they chose? There was no basis. But then, Trump’s team didn’t need one. (This incident is one of the reasons why Meadows may come out of the House select committee decorated with more charges than anyone else.)
If Meadows was a clearinghouse for Republicans in their attempts to create a framework for their coup, the focus of much of their scheming repeatedly returned to Georgia. That includes this helpful explainer from the first person to actually mention the upcoming Jan. 6 deadline in the collection of 2,319 texts that crossed Meadow’s phone. “It’s very simple,” began the text. In states where they couldn’t get courts to hand the vote to Trump, one quick step would fix things, in both Georgia and other states Trump needed to carry the electoral vote.
… the State Assemblies can step in and vote to put forward the electoral slate. Republicans control Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina etc. We get Trump electors.
From nothing, they created a scheme in which Republican state legislatures could both declare that the vote in a state was not “certified” and then select the electors of their choice.
Back in November, a report from The Brookings Institute looked into both Trump’s actions in Georgia and the investigations that have resulted. Reviewing his actions and the relevant law, their conclusions were stark.
Based on these facts and a litany of additional public reporting, Trump appears to be at substantial risk of prosecution for both election and non-election crimes in violation of Georgia state law.