Trump’s legal woes over sex and fraud allegations
Sounding like Arnold Schwarzenegger without the accent, Donald Trump declared "we will be back" before taking to Air Force One to jet off to Florida but his return will be as inglorious as his time in office and perhaps quicker than he imagined.
His departure from high office now strips him of his legal armour, his immunity has ended and he immediately faces months of both civil and criminal legal attacks in courts across the country.
In coming weeks he could be forced to hand over his finances, phone records and even his DNA as he is pursued for sex and vice.
The Senate has confirmed it was "on track" to hold a trial on the impeachment charge brought by the Democratic-led House of Representatives on sparking the storming of the Capitol earlier this month.
The actual charge of "wilful incitement of insurrection", over his false claim the election was "stolen" and calling on supporters to march on the Capitol, is expected to be heard from next week.
The riot left five people dead and many injured.
The trial is an oddity given the 74-year-old Trump is no longer president but Speaker Nancy Pelosi had blocked out cries from constitutional lawyers and legal experts about a trial of a private citizen, to vow it would go ahead and create legal precedent.
The outcome will determine whether he can ever run again as a presidential candidate but perhaps sensing his legal banning from politics, Trump told colleagues he was keen on creating a "super PAC" or Political Action Committee to support candidates to oust the Republicans from power who he believed had crossed him.
It's not the White House but a way to actively remain in Washington head space and the headlines, albeit on the periphery of both.
He is also likely to remain in the headlines with his election rout rants set to attract legal action.
His infamous telephone call to Georgia's secretary of state Brad Raffensperger with the demand to "find" extra votes to win that state, post the election, may well have violated laws prohibiting the interference in state or federal elections.
Under state law it is an offence for anyone who "solicits, requests, commands, importunes or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage" in election fraud. Experts claim while it was perhaps intimidation of Mr Raffensperger, with suggestions he could face legal retribution if he did not find any votes, it would be hard to prove that he, Trump, would somehow orchestrate that retribution himself at least not on the basis of his meandering telephone call.
Ever since taking office, his term has been dogged by reports of probes into his election campaign and his personal finances with civil and criminal cases mounting, notably in his home state New York.
In office he used the Justice Department assets to legally argue he was immune to prosecutions and or being forced to surrender evidence in the form of documents but that protection and argument are now gone.
One case stems from the alleged paying off of porn star Stormy Daniels, prior to the 2016 election, to keep silent about the affair she had with him. Charges were levelled at his lawyer Michael Cohen who plead guilty in 2018 over the issue but prosecutors did not bother going after the then president himself because of his then position. That is now expected to change.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has also made clear alleged financial improprieties of Trump were also being looked at involving "possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organisation".
That is said to involve tax fraud, insurance fraud and false business records of his empire which is said to now be in deep financial debt and allegedly used false figures to secure fresh loans to stay afloat. Added to this, is apparent evidence he paid no federal tax for 10 years.
Vance's office has subpoenaed his tax files, which he attempted to block in the Supreme Court. Whether that hearing goes ahead could come down to that high court, which now includes three Trump appointees.
New York Attorney-General Letitia James meanwhile is probing four different Trump real estate projects, including one on Wall Street and the Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles, and his failed attempt to buy the NFL's Buffalo Bills. It's a civil case related to whether fraud was involved.
Perhaps no coincidence in Trump's long list of pardons was his former vice chairman of the his fundraising victory committee and presidential inaugural committee Elliott Broidy who along with Cohen was a national deputy finance chairman Republican National Committee. Broidy was jailed last year after a federal probe into his efforts to influence the Trump administration to stop investigations into a Malaysian state fund fraud.
In among these cases there are also claims by several women alleging inappropriate sexual behaviour dating back to the 1970s including an alleged rape of author E. Jean Carroll; she made the claims in her book in 2019. She sued him in a civil court for claiming she was a liar. That hearing is yet to commence but there is speculation he may now be compelled to give testimony about the alleged rape, said to have taken place in a department store dressing room, and even a DNA sample.
Former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos also made sexual related claims against Trump in a suit filed in 2017, that he grabbed her breasts and kissed her uninvited. The case was postponed but Trump already publicly agreed to testify on this one.
Ironically some of Trump's financial challenges he faces now out of office stem from the downturn in the hotel business, of which he is a major player, brought on by COVID-19, a virus pandemic he initially dismissed as fake news.
Originally published as Trump's legal woes over sex, fraud allegations