• Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

Trump legal world: What happened this week and what’s next

Trump legal world: What happened this week and what's next


Donald Trump’s legal schedule is getting fuller by the day as the political season heats up, with the former president facing multiple criminal charges with more possibly on the way.

This week, Trump was indicted on charges of leading a conspiracy to overturn his 2020 presidential election defeat and had to travel to Washington, DC, to plead not guilty in federal court.

Now comes a flurry of legal filings and the possibility of yet another indictment, this time in Georgia, where a grand jury is looking at efforts to flip his defeat in the Peach State.

READ: Tracking the criminal indictments in one place

Here’s what happened this week and what’s next:

Special counsel Jack Smith dropped the hammer against Trump on Tuesday, charging the former president with conspiracy and attempting to obstruct Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory. That effort ultimately led to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

“(F)or more than two months following election day on November 3, 2020, the defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won,” the indictment states.

“These claims were false, and the Defendant knew they were false,” it adds, referring to Trump. “But the defendant disseminated them anyway – to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”

READ: CNN’s annotation of the indictment

Trump took the short trip from his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club to appear in federal court on Thursday to enter a not guilty plea to all charges.

The arraignment was at a courthouse that’s been central to the efforts to hold people accountable for the January 6 riot. Over 1,000 people charged in Capitol riot cases have made a similar appearance as Trump’s – the building is located within sight of the Capitol and judges there have overseen trials or sentencing of the rioters.

One of the next major issues in the Trump case will be when to set a trial date. Judge Tanya Chutkan – who has sentenced multiple rioters – appears to be moving quickly on that front.

The Trump team signaled Thursday that it doesn’t think this case can be sent to trial in the normal timeline as dictated under a federal law known the Speedy Trial Act that allows for exemptions in certain circumstance. The special counsel’s office disagrees.

Trump has until Tuesday to file a motion that would pause the clock under the Speedy Trial Act, which would help to slow the pace down, and prosecutors have until August 13 to issue any objection to the request.

Another critical filing will be next Thursday, when the special counsel must propose a trial date and say how long it will likely take them to put on their case before the jury. Trump must respond by August 17.

The next hearing – the first before Chutkan – will be August 28. Trump does not have to appear in person.

Meanwhile, the first Republican primary debate is August 23, though it’s unclear if Trump will participate.

Meanwhile, Smith’s indictment cites six unnamed co-conspirators who allegedly worked with Trump to support his efforts. CNN can identify five of the six.

“Co-Conspirator 1” is former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. “2” is former Trump lawyer John Eastman, who masterminded the plan to appoint false electors and is now facing disbarment proceedings in California. “3” is former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who worked with Giuliani in court. “4” is former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who Trump at one point hoped to install as acting attorney general to help him overturn the election. “5” is pro-Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, who sent an email to Giuliani about the fake electors plot.

The identity of “6” is unclear. The indictment says this person is a political consultant who is tied to the fake elector slate in Pennsylvania.

The next moment in the criminal case against Trump is Thursday, August 10, when a magistrate judge in Florida will hear the plea of Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker Carlos De Oliveira, who allegedly attempted to delete security camera footage at the former president’s resort after the Justice Department issued a subpoena for it.

Trump, via court filing Friday, pleaded not guilty to the charges recently added to the case and indicated to the court that he would not be physically present for the arraignment.

Lawyers for co-defendant Walt Nauta will be present to enter their client’s plea to the new counts.

READ: Mar-a-lago indictment annotated

A grand jury hearing evidence in Smith’s investigation returned the superseding indictment in late July against Trump, who had already faced 37 criminal charges, charging the former president with one additional count of willful retention of national defense information and two additional obstruction counts.

Also next week, Trump’s lawyers will have a chance to respond to claims by prosecutors that he is unwilling to travel to a secured facility to access classified documents being turned over to the defense for the case. By August 10, Trump will have to respond to Smith’s proposal for a protective order restricting access to classified discovery in the case, and in the filings with the proposal, prosecutors have said that Trump has requested to view the documents in Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster – a request Smith’s team opposes.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to ask a grand jury to file charges by September 1 in her probe into efforts by Trump and allies to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election result.

“The work is accomplished,” Willis told CNN affiliate WXIA at a back-to-school event. “We’ve been working for two and half years. We’re ready to go.”

Security at the Fulton County courthouse has notably increased in anticipation of Willis’ actions.

READ: Timeline of Trump’s efforts in Georgia to overturn the election

A federal judge last week dismissed a $475 million defamation lawsuit Trump brought against CNN that accused the network of defaming him by using the phrase “the big lie” and allegedly comparing him to Adolf Hitler.

District Judge Raag Singhal, a 2019 appointee of Trump’s, said that use of the phrase or similar statements are opinion that don’t meet the standard for defamation.

“CNN’s use of the phrase ‘the Big Lie’ in connection with Trump’s election challenges does not give rise to a plausible inference that Trump advocates the persecution and genocide of Jews or any other group of people. No reasonable viewer could (or should) plausibly make that reference,” Singhal wrote.

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