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Trump’s Many Trials

The Four Indictments Against the Former Commander-in-Chief
Former President Donald Trump photographed(courtesy of Library Congress Prints, 2016).

Throughout American history, a former president has never been indicted. Then, in 2023, Donald J. Trump broke that streak. Over the last year, Trump has raked up more and more indictments, ending with him currently having four indictments total. These indictments include hush money payments, taking highly classified documents, efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, and rallying a mob to storm the Capitol on January 6th.

Former President Trump’s first indictment took place in March of 2023, when it was announced that Trump was accused of falsifying records concerning paying off adult film star Stormy Daniels after they had a sexual encounter. He paid Daniels $130,000 to buy her silence before his final weeks during the presidential campaign in October 2016. Michel Cohen Trump’s attorney at the time paid Daniels in a series of money installations that prosecutors believe were fraudulently posed as company expenses in violation of New York law. Cohen is now a key witness against his boss in the prosecution and there is now also evidence of other hush money payments organized by Trump and his employees. However, these hush money payments could be seen as personal and private matters, and the charges could be seen as insubstantial book-keeping infringements. Trump’s first trial related to this issue took place on April 15, 2024, and the case is scheduled to take place over the next six weeks.

The former President’s second indictment took place on June 8, 2023, when he was accused of taking and keeping highly sensitive classified documents pertaining to national security. He hid these papers at his home in the Mar-a-Lago resort, where it is said that he stashed them in his bedroom, bathroom, storage room, and more. Trump also interfered with the government’s numerous attempts to retrieve them. Prosecutors also believe that Trump, on more than one occasion, showed the classified documents to unauthorized individuals, some of which were audio-taped. Prosecutors are in possession of audio examples of specific statements Trump said, regarding the fact that he knew he could not possess the documents but he still ended up doing it. It has also been alleged that Trump publicly admitted to having classified documents on CNN and similarly, he instructed his aides to move boxes around and destroy security footage. During the presidency, Trump had the authority to declassify documents, so if Trump shows that he declassified them while still in office, that would weaken the charges. The case has been allocated to Judge Aileen Cannon, who was Trump-appointed and has been known to favor Trump in the past. 

The third indictment is one that caught attention all over the world, when it was broadcasted that an angry mob had overtaken the capital. This started when Trump and his advisors started an extensive campaign to undermine the peaceful shift of power to Joe Biden. Trump urged Republican state officials to sabotage the outcome of Biden’s victory in multiple states and he even pressed Mike Pence, the Vice President at the time, to throw away the legitimate results of the election. Because of his efforts, its cumulative result was seen on January 6th, when an angry mob of protesters bombarded the Capital, its goal being to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power from president to president. Some of the biggest pieces of evidence included that mostly all of Trump’s efforts to undermine the results were public and verifiable. Another was that many of Trump’s aides had testified against him giving the investigators much insight as to what happened. Trump claims most of his public statements were protected by the First Amendment, and that he was just speaking out about advice his lawyers had given him. 

Trump’s final indictment took place on August 14th, when it was announced that prosecutors believed that his attempts to annul the 2020 presidential election were the most belligerent in specifically the state of Georgia. This was because the results were very close to Biden only winning by 18 electoral votes. Trump then accused voter fraud and pressured Georgia officials to undermine the results of the vote; he even went as far as to plan to send fake electoral voters to Washington. He then also called Brad Raffensperger and urged him to “find” 11, 780 more votes for him to overcome Biden’s victory. Trump’s reasons to believe there was fraud were based on lies and falsehoods, as evidenced by the eight Trump-appointed false electors that have agreed to cooperate with the prosecutors. Trump’s actions are unprecedented, and Trump may believe that he is immune to such things while being president. He also might argue that most of his claims and statements were under the First Amendment. 

These indictments could create a president behind bars for the first time ever, should Trump get re-elected. One of the most interesting things however about him getting re-elected is that Trump could have the power to pardon himself of these indictments, even though the validity of presidential self-pardon has never been questioned so far in history. Knowing all this could make the risks of the presidential campaign even more serious and unique to those before it. So it will be an interesting electoral season, to say the least.

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About the Contributor
Juliana Manley
Juliana Manley, Journalist
Hi, my name is Juliana I love writing about new upcoming topics that are important to my generation and also writing about topics that could one day impact our future. Some things that I like to do in my free time are playing tennis, baking, reading new books, and hanging out with friends. My favorite season is fall and my favorite holiday is Halloween because of how rainy and cozy it can be. I look forward to writing interesting pieces and reading other's articles. Thanks for reading!

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