Advertisement

We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Trump appearing in court for an arraignment in New York on 4 April 2023 Alamy Stock Photo
Explainer

78 criminal charges and counting: Everything Donald Trump is facing in court

Trump has been indicted over allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 election. It’s his third felony indictment this year.

IN THE LAST four months, the heat has been turned up on former US President Donald Trump as he is hit with indictment after indictment.

More than two years since the tumultuous events of 6 January 2021 that sent a shock rippling through the US, Trump was indicted yesterday over allegations that he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

He has already been charged earlier this year in investigations into the mishandling of government documents and hush money payments.

While the alleged hush money payments are linked to events in the run-up to the 2016 election, the charges over the confidential government files and attempts to overturn the election relate to actions taken during and after his presidency

It is the definition of unprecedented: Trump is the first US president to ever have been arrested on criminal charges, former or serving.

He denies the charges against him and insists that the investigations are a conspiracy to damage him and bring down his 2024 campaign to return to the White House. 

With court hearings scheduled this week and later in the year, here is a breakdown of the indictments that have been served against Number 45.

2020 election

The newest indictment comes after an investigation into attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which saw Democrat Joe Biden beat out then-incumbent Trump after months of bitter-fought campaigns. 

Charged with three felony counts of conspiracy and one felony count of obstruction, Trump is accused of conspiracy to defraud the US and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding (a joint session of Congress on 6 January 2021 to certify Biden’s win).

Felonies in the US are offences that are punishable under criminal law, usually by imprisonment of more than one year, and considered to be more serious than the lesser charge of ‘misdemeanours’. 

The indictment was brought by US special counsel Jack Smith, aged 54, who is leading two investigations into Trump and has served in Manhattan’s district attorney’s office, the US attorney’s office, the US justice department, and as an investigator for the International Criminal Court.

The 45-page indictment states that “shortly after election day – which fell on November 3, 2020 – the defendant launched his criminal scheme”.

“The purpose of the conspiracy was to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by using knowingly false claims of election fraud.”

Trump has been summoned to appear before a federal magistrate judge in Washington tomorrow over the charges.

washington-united-states-01st-aug-2023-special-council-jack-smith-speaks-during-a-press-conference-after-donald-trump-is-indictment-on-criminal-charges-by-a-federal-grand-jury-in-the-2020-election Special Council Jack Smith at a press conference after a federal grand jury indicted Trump over 2020 election interference Bonnie Cash / UPI/Alamy Live News Bonnie Cash / UPI/Alamy Live News / UPI/Alamy Live News

Mishandling government documents

In June, the former president was indicted after a long investigation into the removal of confidential documents from the White House.

The US Justice Department investigation led to charges of 37 felony counts related to retaining classified information, obstructing justice, and false statements. An updated version of the indictment in July added an additional three charges for Trump, bringing the total to 40.

The indictment detailed that Trump took secret documents that contained information about the US’ nuclear and weapons programs from the White after he left office, potentially putting national security at risk.

The documents were kept at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

“The classified documents Trump stored in his boxes included information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to foreign attack,” the indictment stated.

“The unauthorized disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods.” 

An aide, Walt Nauta, who was recorded removing boxes at Mar-a-Lago by a surveillance camera, was charged with withholding documents, concealing documents, scheming to conceal facts from investigators and making false or misleading statements. Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira has also been charged on four counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements.

Trump appeared before a courthouse in Miami to face the charges, where he pleaded not guilty.

He denied any wrongdoing and called the charges a “hoax”.

He is currently due to face trial starting from 20 May 2024, at a time when the 2024 presidential campaign will be well underway.

Hush money

In April, Trump became the first American president to be arrested on criminal charges after an indictment by a New York grand jury.

Of the three indictments, this one is viewed in legal circles as the least solid case, and is also carrying the lightest of the charges.

These charges were for 34 felony counts of falsifying business records linked to ‘hush money’ payments to silence people, including over an alleged affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

The investigation looked into a payment of $130,000 (€119,000) to Daniels shortly before his election victory.

Michael Cohen, a former lawyer and aide for Trump who has since turned against him, said he arranged the payment to Daniels in return for her silence about an affair she says she had with Trump in 2006, which he denies. 

The accusations of falsified business records included some that were allegedly mischaracterised for tax purposes.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement that Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election”. 

He described the alleged payments as a “catch-and-kill” scheme aimed at stifling potentially negative revelations about Trump during his first campaign for presidency. 

Trump pleaded not guilty to the 34 felony counts at a hearing on 4 April. 

The trial is scheduled to start on 25 March 2024.

Additional reporting by AFP

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
Our Explainer articles bring context and explanations in plain language to help make sense of complex issues. We're asking readers like you to support us so we can continue to provide helpful context to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.