Former president Donald Trump confirmed last night (15 November) that he will run for the office of President once again in 2024, during a characteristically erratic speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Trump has long been expected to run and is considered one of the most likely Republican candidates to get the nomination, although he will face challenges from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis among others.
The former president will have to navigate a long campaign and dispel criticisms that he was in large part responsible for the Republican’s poor performance in the recent midterm elections if he is to secure the party’s nomination.
He may also run into trouble as a result of any one of a number of investigations currently ongoing into his conduct as president and his business operations.
Classified documents at Mar-a-Lago
The former president is under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ), which is looking into whether Trump illegally removed or concealed classified materials when he left office.
It is alleged that Trump illegally mishandled a number of official documents that were taken from the White House to the Trump resort at Mar-a-Lago when he left office. If he kept hold of or destroyed White House documents without authorisation this would be a breach of a criminal law.
The National Archives, which is tasked with collecting presidential material, has previously said that at least 15 boxes of White House records - including some classified documents - were recovered from the Florida resort by the FBI in August. Of around 2,700 documents seized, more than 100 were classified, while the former president has claimed that around 120 are exempt due to Presidential Privilege, which protects “Presidential communications related to the performance of official duties”.
Trump’s lawyers have argued that as he was still president when the documents were taken to Mar-a-Lago, he was entitled to designate them as personal documents, while the DOJ prosecutors say he was not able to do so in the manner he did, and that this would not apply to all the documents.
January 6 and the 2020 election
Trump is implicated in investigations by both the House select committee and the DOJ into events relating to the 2020 election and the Capital riot on 6 January 2021.
After refusing to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election which saw Joe Biden defeat him, Trump and a number of his allies attempted to overturn the results of the election by spreading false claims about voter fraud and pressuring officials including the vice president.
Many also blame Trump personally for sparking the events of 6 January in Washington DC, often referred to as an attempted insurrection, which saw thousands of his supporters storm the US Capitol building. The select committee’s investigation has been holding public sessions, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence about the former President’s involvement before and on the day of the riot.
Trump himself has not yet testified to the committee, but is locked in a legal battle over whether he must comply with an order to give testimony and provide documents to the investigation.
Alongside this public-facing inquiry, the DOJ has been working on an investigation of its own into the same events involving witness interviews with a grand jury, though it has largely been conducted privately, with few details emerging.
Trump has also attempted to prevent key former advisers from testifying to the DOJ’s investigation by citing presidential and attorney-client privilege, in a bid to stop details of key conversations and events outside the scope of the investigation.
The former president and a number of his allies are also under investigation by the Georgia District Attorney in relation to alleged attempts to overturn the election results in the state, after Trump called the Georgia Secretary of State and pressured him to “find” votes to overturn the election.
Trump Organization in New York
Trump’s business, the Trump Organization, is at the centre of a number of investigations in the state of New York, including a criminal tax fraud trial and probes by the District Attorney and Attorney General. The primary case does not involve Trump as an individual, but could have serious ramifications for his business, as the Trump Organization is accused of paying executives with lucrative perks without paying tax on them.
Prosecutors say that a 15-year scheme carried out by two entities of the Trump Organization saw high-level employees given apartments and luxury cars without reporting these benefits to tax authorities. A former senior executive has already pleaded guilty to his role, while the company itself has pleaded not guilty.
Meanwhile, Letitia James, the New York Attorney General, has sued four members of the Trump family, including the former president, and the Trump Organization, over their alleged involvement in fraud which goes back over a decade.
The firm is accused of inflating the value of its assets in order to deceive lenders, insurers and tax authorities, with the AG seeking to recover $250 million which was allegedly fraudulently acquired.
Finally, a probe by the Manhattan District Attorney into the accuracy of the Trump Organization’s financial statements is ongoing.
The investigation is reported to have slowed in recent months after a special grand jury expired in April and two senior prosecutors working on the investigation quit after they were told criminal charges could not yet be brought in the case.
Other ongoing cases
In addition to the investigations outlined above, Trump is being sued by police officers who were caught up in the events of 6 January and a writer who claimed she was raped by the former President in the 1990s.
Democrats are also continuing in a long-running attempt to force the Internal Revenue Service to release Trump’s tax returns, which has been upheld by a federal appeals court, although that ruling is subject to an appeal by Trump to the Supreme Court.