Breaking Down Breaking News: The legal entanglements of Donald Trump


Credit: Alyssa Ao

WSPN’s Emily Roberge discusses former President Donald Trump’s recent legal entanglements.

Emily Roberge

What you need to know:

On Tuesday, May 9, a New York federal jury found former United States President Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming journalist and former magazine writer E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s. Following the jury’s decision, Carroll was given $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages. While Carroll is not the first person to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct, as Trump has more than a dozen accusers, her case marks the first time one of the allegations has been decided on by a jury.

Carroll had enough evidence to prove to the New York federal jury that the former president had sexually abused her in the dressing room of the department store Bergdorf Goodman 30 years ago. However, the jury did not find that Trump had raped Carroll, which she had claimed.

She also accused Trump of defamation, citing that Trump had defamed her by posting on his Truth Social platform that her accusations and lawsuit against him were “a complete con job” and a “Hoax and a lie.” The jury ruled that Trump did in fact defame Carroll.

The response:

In response to her accusations of sexual abuse and defamation against Trump, Carroll said, “I filed this lawsuit against Donald Trump to clear my name and to get my life back. Today, the world finally knows the truth. The victory is not just for me but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed.”

Trump’s lawyers said he would appeal the jury’s finding. Following the verdict, Trump posted on Truth Social saying, “I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. This verdict is a disgrace – a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time!”

What this means:

The court’s findings are civil, not criminal. This means that Trump will not go to prison or face any criminal charges. However, Carroll’s lawsuit against Trump represents one of many against the former president.

For civil cases, there is currently a lawsuit against Trump for business fraud in New York, in which New York Attorney General Leticia James claims that Trump lied about his net worth and the value of his real estate properties. Alongside the former president, three of his children are also named in the lawsuit: Donald Junior, Ivanka and Eric. James’ goal is to ban Trump from running a business in the state of New York and is asking for $250 million. The case will go to trial in October.

As for criminal cases, Trump is facing four lawsuits.

Classified documents at Mar-a-Lago:

One of the four lawsuits against the former president claims that Trump tampered and obstructed the government’s investigation of the classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence.

If convicted, some charges Trump could face and their maximum sentences are the unauthorized retention of national security documents (penalty could be up to 10 years in jail per document), obstruction (carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years for each offense), contempt of court ($1000 fine and six months in jail) and conspiracy to make a false statement (maximum sentence of five years).

Election tampering in Georgia:
Trump is being indicted on claims that he tried to interfere with the results of the 2020 election, in which he lost to current President Joe Biden. This comes two years after Trump made a call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger asking to find the adequate amount of votes so that Trump could overturn Biden’s win in Georgia.

If convicted, some of the charges Trump could face include election code violations and racketeering (which involves 20 years in prison for a maximum penalty).

2020 election and involvement in the Jan 6. insurrection:
Following Trump’s involvement in inciting the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol, the United States House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 election has been investigating Trump’s role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election and inciting an insurrection at the Capitol, which resulted in five deaths and the suicide of four police officers following Jan. 6.

If convicted, some charges Trump could face include the obstruction of an official proceeding (maximum sentence of 20 years in prison), conspiracy to defraud the United States (maximum sentence of five years in prison), conspiracy to make a false statement and insurrection.

Hush Money to Stormy Daniels:
Before the 2016 election, Trump sent $130,000 to former adult actress Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with the former president. Throughout 2017, Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, and the Trump Organization reimbursed his payments.

If convicted, a charge Trump could face is bookkeeping fraud (maximum of four years in jail).

What are other sources to look at?

“How big are Donald Trump’s legal problems?” – British Broadcast Company

“An overview of Donald Trump’s legal troubles” – Reuters

“Donald Trump faces several investigations. Here’s where they stand.” – New York Times