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Trump Criminal Cases: What's Next?

FILE - Former President Donald Trump arrives to board his plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, in Arlington, Va., after facing a judge on federal conspiracy charges that allege he conspired to subvert the 2020 election.
FILE - Former President Donald Trump arrives to board his plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, in Arlington, Va., after facing a judge on federal conspiracy charges that allege he conspired to subvert the 2020 election.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s mounting legal woes are threatening to jeopardize his presidential bid — and personal freedom.

Last week, Trump was indicted on four felony counts in connection with his alleged efforts to reverse his election loss to President Joe Biden in 2020. This was his third indictment in more than four months — one state and two federal. In all, the former president faces 78 criminal charges.

A fourth indictment is widely expected later this month in the southern U.S. state of Georgia, where a local prosecutor has been investigating Trump and his allies for election meddling in the state.

If convicted of all charges in the three indictments and given the maximum penalty, Trump could face up to 641 years in prison, according to a Politico calculation.

A conviction is not a given, however, and legal experts say the former president could avoid jail time by negotiating plea deals with prosecutors and appealing the verdicts.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in all three cases and termed the charges “election interference” designed to hurt his presidential run.

His legal troubles have not dented his dominance as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. But with at least two criminal trials looming next year, the criminal cases will likely cast a long shadow over the presidential race, as well as the news headlines.

Here is a look at where the cases stand.

Hush money payment

This case, announced in March, made Trump the first and only former American president to be charged with crimes.

On March 30, a Manhattan grand jury indicted him on 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with paying off an adult film star in 2016.

In an unprecedented scene, Trump surrendered to authorities five days later and was arraigned in a Manhattan courthouse.

Trump’s lawyers sought to move the case from New York state court to federal court, arguing that his alleged conduct in the case was related to his official duties as president.

But in July, a federal judge rejected the argument, setting the stage for a trial in a state court.

The trial is scheduled for March 25, 2024.

Classified documents

This case, brought by special counsel Jack Smith, marked the first federal indictment of an American president, sitting or former.

The case grew out of Smith’s monthslong investigation of Trump’s handling of government secrets after he left the White House in January 2021.

On June 8, a grand jury in Miami indicted Trump on 37 felony counts, including 31 counts of illegally retaining national defense information, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta, was also charged. Trump was arraigned on June 13.

In late July, prosecutors unveiled three additional charges and added another co-defendant to the case — Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker Carlos De Oliveira.

Among the new charges, Trump and his two aides are accused of asking another employee to “delete security camera footage at the Mar-a-Lago Club to prevent the footage from being provided to a federal grand jury.”

Trump has pleaded not guilty to the new charges.

The trial in the case is set to begin May 20, 2024, in Fort Pierce, Florida.

The trial date, set by the presiding judge, Aileen Cannon, was a compromise between a request by prosecutors to schedule the trial for December and Trump’s request to put it off until after the presidential election.

2020 election

In what many see as the most damning indictment against Trump, this federal case is focused on the former president’s alleged efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Last week, Smith issued a four-count indictment, charging Trump with three conspiracy counts and one obstruction count in connection with the scheme.

The indictment stemmed from the Justice Department’s massive investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump’s supporters.

On Aug. 3, the former president appeared in Washington, D.C., before a federal magistrate judge, who gave prosecutors one week to propose a trial date.

The first hearing in the case before the presiding judge, Tanya Chutkan, has been set for August 28.

After his arraignment, Trump complained on his Truth Social platform that he can’t get a fair trial in Washington, a Democratic-leaning city.

A judge would have to approve a change of venue request, and it remains unclear if it will be granted.

Georgia election interference

Trump could face criminal charges in Fulton County, Georgia, where District Attorney Fani Willis has been probing attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn the outcome of the presidential election.

A special grand jury examined the state case and issued a report in January recommending criminal charges.

Willis said she’ll announce charging decisions by mid-August.

More than a dozen people have been notified by Willis’ office that they are under investigation, suggesting some or all of them could face charges.

Implications for presidential bid

Although the outcome of the charges remains uncertain, there is a consensus among legal experts that even if convicted, Trump can still run for president.

The U.S. Constitution sets forth three key requirements for presidential candidates: they must be natural-born American citizens, at least 35 years old and residents of the United States for no less than 14 years. However, the Constitution is silent on the question of criminal records or convictions of candidates.

That means Trump could run for president as a convicted felon or even from behind bars, as Eugene V. Debs, the Socialist Party presidential candidate, did more than a century ago.