US Election 2020: Legal battles Trump may face after losing presidential privileges
While US President Donald Trump was impeached by House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress, he remained protected from any legal action in other cases, civil or criminal, due to the presidential privileges. However, the recent defeat in US elections has ensured that Trump will be stripped of his privileges soon, leaving him vulnerable to civil and criminal proceedings.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has been looking into the finances of the Trump Organization and real estate business of Trump’s family for a criminal investigation. Vance, a Democrat, had sought Trump’s tax returns for the investigation. US District Judge Victor Marrero allowed the enforcement of the ‘dragnet’ subpoena, forcing Trump to disclose eight years of business and personal tax returns from his longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA.
Trump has been seeking absolute immunity from criminal probe while he remains in the White House. The US President urged the federal court of appeals to block the enforcement of the subpoena, arguing that it amounts to political harassment, but the court disagreed. Trump is now expected to appeal in Supreme Court against Vance’s attempt to obtain his tax returns. The tax returns could provide Vance with ample ammunition to move forward with his investigation into alleged tax and bank fraud.
In 2018, Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels spoke out about their sexual relationships with Trump and alleged that they received payments to remain quiet. Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen admitted arranging payments for the two women and was sentenced to three years in jail on charges of campaign finance fraud and lying to Congress. Cohen, who is often described as Trump’s “fixer”, tried to make a case in his tell-all memoir that the US President is “guilty of the same crimes” that landed him in jail. A criminal investigation into the payments in still underway in New York.
Several women have accused Trump of inappropriate sexual behaviour and misconduct, which has been dismissed by the Republican as “fake news”. E Jean Carroll, an American journalist and advice columnist, has accused Trump of raping her at a Manhattan department store. Trump is facing a defamation lawsuit for calling her a liar and making “she’s not my type” remark to defend himself.
Carroll has sought unspecified damages and demanded a retraction of the statement. In September, US Department of Justice tried to replace Trump with the United States as a defendant in the case, but a federal judge ruled against the intervention, arguing “the allegations have no relationship to the official business of the United States”.