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While Donald Trump’s path through Republican primaries is clearing up, he faces looming unanswered questions in multiple different courts.
Keeping track of the complicated and ever-evolving web of Trump-related court cases is nearly impossible, but some key developments are expected in the coming days and weeks.
Is Trump’s New York business career over?
New York State Judge Arthur Engoron could rule at any moment how much Trump will have to pay for inflating his wealth to get the friendly loans that helped build his real estate empire. New York Attorney General Letitia James has asked for $370 million. There is also the question of whether his state business license could be revoked. It is also possible Engoron could theoretically order Trump to dissolve his New York real estate empire.
Status: Closing arguments wrapped January 11. Expect appeals no matter what happens.
Is he immune from prosecution?
A three-judge panel for a federal appeals court in Washington, DC, is weighing Trump’s claim that presidents enjoy an “absolute” immunity from prosecution. While the judges seemed deeply skeptical of the idea that presidents should be completely above the law, the question needs to be answered before Trump can be prosecuted for trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election by Special Counsel Jack Smith. The US Supreme Court has, for now, declined to take up the case because justices wanted this particular appeals court panel to weigh in. His trial date in that election interference case is still currently scheduled for March 5, but that date seems more unlikely with each passing day as we await word on Trump’s immunity claim. His other three criminal trials are currently scheduled to come after that.
Status: Panel heard oral arguments January 9. Could rule at any time.
Can he be barred from primary ballots for being an insurrectionist?
While the Supreme Court has for now declined to consider if Trump can be prosecuted, justices are gearing up to decide if he can be barred from state ballots for being an insurrectionist. The justices are set to decide a case out of Colorado, where one judge found after hearing testimony that Trump did engage in insurrection and the state supreme court ruled that he should be kept off their primary ballot as a result. Trump will remain on the ballot for Colorado’s primary pending the Supreme Court decision. The case is specifically focused on Colorado and Maine is the only other state to disqualify Trump from the primary ballot. But there are lawsuits around the country that could be affected by the Court decision. In Illinois, the state elections board declined Tuesday to remove Trump from the ballot, sending the question there to state courts.
Status: Supreme Court oral arguments are scheduled for February 8. Colorado’s primary is set for Super Tuesday, March 5.
Will he be prosecuted by Fani Willis?
Will he have to pay $458.3 million?
The back-of-the-envelope total of what he could be ordered to pay in civil penalties is an astromical sum, even for a man who claims to be a multi-billionaire.
$370 million at stake in New York civil fraud trial. Engoron is expected to rule any day in the New York fraud trial.
$88.3 million awarded in defamation trials. A federal jury in New York found last week that Trump must pay $83.3 million to E. Jean Carroll, the woman he was found liable for sexually assaulting in the 1990s. A separate New York court also found last year that he must pay Carroll $5 million. Trump is appealing the Carroll decisions and is sure to appeal any adverse decision in the civil fraud trial.
Still, that’s a combined $458.3 million he could eventually have to pay.
Side question: How much money does Trump have? It’s not exactly clear. In an ironic twist, his comments bragging about his wealth in an April 2013 deposition in the New York fraud civil fraud trial were played for the jury in the Carroll defamation case.
“We have a lot of cash,” Trump told lawyers from the New York Attorney General’s office. “I believe we have substantially in excess of 400 million in cash, which is a lot for a developer. Developers usually don’t have cash. They have assets, not cash. We have, I believe, 400 plus and going up very substantially every month.”
Professional guestimators at Forbes and Bloomberg have suggested Trump could have somewhere in the neighborhood of $600 million in liquid assets. When he launched his presidential campaign, Trump was required to file a financial disclosure form, but it is an imprecise gauge of wealth.
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