FOR THE WEEK OF MAR. 27, 2023
React to news or commentary coverage of this and explain your view.
Look for a Trump-related quote from someone in your area or state. Does it reflect your thinking?
Summarize another legal or political issue in the news.
Donald Trump is feeling the heat of three legal inquiries that could make the ex-president a criminal defendant. Grand jury investigations in New York City and Georgia appear to be wrapping up. And Jack Smith, a special federal prosecutor appointed by the attorney general, is investigating potential national security law violations and obstruction of justice surrounding classified documents that Trump kept at Mar-a-Lago, Fla., after a grand jury subpoena last May ordered their return.
If any of the separate situations lead to prosecution, Trump would be the first current or former American president to face criminal charges. This adds to the drama: He's considered the leading candidate for his Republican Party's presidential nomination next year.
An announcement is expected soon from the Manhattan district attorney. That local prosecutor believes Trump committed a crime during the 2016 presidential campaign when his attorney paid $130,000 to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about a mini-affair, which Trump denies ever took place. Grand jurors will decide whether the ex-president should face trial for allegedly breaking campaign finance laws by turning political donations into a "hush money" payoff. His lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty in 2018 to felony campaign finance law violations and served more than a year in prison.
In Fulton County, Ga., a special grand jury is looking into efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election in that state. The panel of 23 citizens heard from 75 witnesses, including former presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Most consequentially, Smith in Washington is overseeing federal investigations into Trump's efforts to reverse his re-election loss and his handling of classified documents found in his possession after he left the White House. U.S. Court of Appeals judges ruled last week that Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran must immediately turn over documents subpoenaed by Jack Smith's grand jury. Corcoran appeared before the panel on Friday. Another witness called to testify, former Vice President Mike Pence, is resisting Smith's attempt to compel his testimony.
Trump says: "They're not coming after me, they're coming after you. I'm just standing in their way, and I always will stand in their way." – March 21 social media video
Columnist says: "Indicting Trump will cause many Republicans . . . to rally around the former president and help him win the GOP nomination." – Marc A. Thiessen, The Washington Post
Historian says: "It appears that neither the legal nor the political momentum is in [Trump's] favor." – Heather Cox Richardson, Boston College professor