Ever since his inauguration in January 2017, Trump’s presidency has been under a ‘cloud’, whether that be the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller’s investigation into claims of Russia collusion, stating the mainstream media was peddling ‘fake news’, calling African countries ‘Shithole Countries’, to his ever changing administration and his family separation policy.
Recently the list of legal woes that Trump personally is facing has expanded to: presidential inauguration money, profiting from foreign government officials staying at his properties, the Trump foundation, cover up payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal and finally the Russia investigation.
Each of Trump’s five legal problems are considered below:
1. Presidential inauguration money
On Thursday, December 13 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that the committee in charge of Mr Trump’s 2017 presidential inauguration has come under federal criminal investigation.
The committee raised in a record $107m in donations.
The probe will scrutinise how the inaugural money was spent and whether donors sought to gain access to Trump’s administration.
A top planner with the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee emailed Ivanka Trump and other Trump Organization employees to “express my concern”about potential event-space overcharging by the hotel and what could occur“when this is audited,” ProPublica reported on Friday. Any charges over the going rate could be violations of tax law.
Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Ivanka Trump’s lawyer Abbe Lowell, responded to ProPublica as follows:
“When contacted by someone working on the inauguration, Ms. Trump passed the inquiry on to a hotel official and said only that any resulting discussions should be at a ‘fair market rate, Ms. Trump was not involved in any additional discussions.”
This new investigation started, in part, by evidence unearthed by federal agents when they raided Cohen’s offices in April.
Risk to Trump
Trump personally has not been implicated to date, however his daughter, Ivanka and a number of personal friends and associates were deeply involved in the planning.
2. Trump hotel
Trump had previously announced that his businesses would donate all income derived from foreign governments to the US Treasury to avoid infringing the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution, which prohibits federal officials from receiving gifts or payments from foreign rulers or representatives.
In March 2018, the Trump Organization donated $151,470 in profits from foreign governments accrued during 2017 – although it offered no further details.
In June 2018,attorneys general for the District of Columbia and Maryland sued Mr Trump,alleging that the president is continuing to profit from foreign government spending at his properties – particularly his hotel in Washington, DC.
The judge overseeing the case allowed the attorneys general for Coumbia and Maryland to issue 30 subpoenas for business records from the Trump organisation and affiliated groups.
Risk to Trump
The legal exposure and risk to Trump has yet to be ascertained, however the probe could possibly expose embarrassing details about Trump’s businesses at the point when Trump is gearing up for 2020.
3. Trump Foundation
New York state investigators are conducting a review of the Trump Foundation.
It has been alleged that the Trump Foundation effectively served as means to advance the president’s political and business interests in violation of state laws governing the tax-free status of charitable organisations.
Trump’s lawyers attempted to have the case dismissed, but in November 2018, a New York judge ruled that:
The allegations “Sufficiently support a claim that Mr Trump intentionally used foundation assets for his private interests knowing that it may not be in the foundation’s best interests”.
Risk to Trump
New York is seeking nearly $3m in restitution, additional financial penalties, a 10-year ban on Trump serving as the head of any New York non-profit organisations and a one-year ban for his three oldest children, Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr.
4. Payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal
On Wednesday December 12, 2018, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, told court how he had arranged payments to Daniels and McDougal to bury their stories during his clients presidential run in 2016.
Cohen admitted charges of campaign-finance law violations. The National Enquirer, which facilitated one of the payments, corroborates Cohen’s account.
Cohen has claimed that he was acting at the direction of Trump himself – something which the president has vehemently denied.
Risk to Trump
Trump has been directly implicated in a campaign finance violation, the same charge for which Cohen received a prison sentence,
5. Russian investigation
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election still continues.
To date there have been 92 criminal charges against 36 people and entities, 7 guilty pleas, 3 people sentenced and 1 convicted in a jury trial
Cohen has helped with that inquiry as well, recently asserting that negotiations on Trump Moscow continued well into 2016 and included contacts with Russian officials.
Trump has maintained there was no collusion with Russia and dismissed the investigation as a ‘Witch Hunt.’
Risk to Trump
Mueller has yet to prove there was collusion, or if it involved Trump.