Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., with impeachment managers Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., and Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., right, speaks to members of the media during a presser.
( AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Cindy: After former president Donald Trump was acquitted on Saturday, several of his former Republican allies who voted to acquit, still condemned Trump for his role in the January 6th Capitol insurrection. Their statements are likely to ring hollow for anyone hoping to see the Senate hold Trump accountable. Speaking on the Senate floor, after the acquittal vote, Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell argued that Trump can still be punished through the courts.
Mitch: President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen. Unless the statute of limitations is wrong, still liable for everything he did, while he was in office. He didn't get away with anything, yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country, we have civil litigation and former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.
Cindy: Going forward, Donald Trump could face a range of potential legal challenges for actions that extend far beyond the Capitol insurrection. Who better to break this all down than Andrea Bernstein, co-host of the Trump Inc. podcast from WNYC and ProPublica, and author of American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps and the Marriage of Money and Power. Hi Andrea.
Andrea: Hey Cindy. It's so great to talk to you on the show.
Cindy: Likewise, likewise. We've got a lot of ground to cover here. There's been some reporting that the Washington DC attorney general is considering whether to bring charges against Trump for his role in the Capitol insurrection. What can you tell us about that case?
Andrea: There isn't a case yet, but we do know that the attorney general of the district of Columbia, Karl Racine has said that it is possible that the president could be charged, that he could charge the president in connections with his actions on January 6th. Nothing has happened yet, nor has anything happened with the federal prosecutors in Washington who, as we know, have indicted dozens of individuals so far, in connections with their actions and seem to be proceeding at a pretty rapid pace. It was interesting that during the impeachment trial, Trump's lawyers gestured to the federal prosecutors in Washington, is what they said, was the appropriate forum to handle possible repercussions for the former president.
We shall see, if it ever came to that, what Trump's lawyers would argue then. If past is prologue, I suspect that they would say that is also not an appropriate venue, which seems to be one of their standard defenses in all of the different litigation and legal troubles Trump has faced over the years.
Cindy: Now we can jump to Georgia, where there's an investigation regarding Donald Trump's call to Georgia Secretary Of State, Brad Raffensperger, where Trump asked him to find the votes to tip the state's election in his favor. Is that investigation still ongoing?
Andrea: Yes. This is the first real criminal investigation we know of that stem from former president Trump's post-election actions. We know that last week, the district attorney there, Fulton County, sent out letters to a number of state officials requesting information about their interactions with former President Trump and also associates. While that case has only just begun, it could, in theory, if they decide they have the evidence to make out criminal charges, be a case that proceeds pretty quickly. It's not a complex financial investigation. It doesn't involve any Russian or foreign actors. It just involves things that happen in a discrete period of time. As we know, lots of criminal investigations proceed rapidly. Even though it's just happened, if the district attorney decides to go forward and, of course, President Trump has said that there is no crime that was committed there, then that could be something that could resolve itself fairly rapidly.
Cindy: Okay. Then, Andrea, there's also these investigations looking into the spending practices of Trump's inaugural committee. Why are they being investigated?
Andrea: This is something that actually stemmed out of work that we did in our podcast, where my colleague, Ilya Marritz, actually found an email exchange with Ivanka Trump and members of the inaugural committee about the prices that the Trump hotel was charging during the last inaugural, the one that happened in 2017 when Trump became president. Trump's team was advised that they were overcharging and they went ahead and did it anyway and that could be a violation of charity's laws. This is an investigation also by the DC attorney general Karl Racine and it is quite far along. Now, it's a civil investigation and it doesn't involve Trump, but it does involve his inaugural committee from the last time around.
Cindy: I see. Now, as you've mentioned, Trump Inc has reported extensively on Donald Trump's personal finances. Where do things stand on the Manhattan district attorney's possible case against Trump?
Andrea: Yes. This is a case that is both very far along and caught up in the Supreme court for a second time. This is the case where the Manhattan district attorney started investigating Trump's business practices from before he was president, and whether he had committed bank fraud, tax fraud, insurance fraud, and other financial violations. Trump, when he got wind of this, sued the district attorney to prevent him from getting his tax returns, and that case went to the Supreme Court, the Supreme court ruled against Trump, and his lawyers brought it back to the Supreme court on different grounds, claiming the subpoenas were overly broad, and that is where it is now.
Everyone thought the case would be dismissed in January after Trump no longer was president, but that hasn't happened. Although by all reports and from everything we can glean, the district attorney's investigation is intensive, serious. It is stymied by not having those tax returns. The next decision date is at the end of this month and it may be that he gets those documents then, in which case, he could proceed if he thinks there's evidence with indictments of Trump, his associates, or his business.
Cindy: Okay. That's one case that stems out of New York. There's another case that's with Attorney General Letitia James. She's also pursuing a civil case against the Trump organization. What is the latest there?
Andrea: Exactly. It's about whether the Trump organization lied when they valued their properties in order to avoid paying New York State taxes. That's a civil case. There's also separate civil litigation brought by private parties. There is a lot of litigation facing Trump and his business going forward that we expect to see some resolution in the courts around.
Cindy: Okay, Andrea, what's Trump's legal strategy been while he was president and, you already explained some of that, but will that continue to be his strategy going forward?
Andrea: Yes, I expect so. When the House tried to investigate him, he said, "No, they're trying to act like law enforcement groups." When the Manhattan DA, a law enforcement officer tried to investigate him, he said, "You can't investigate a sitting president." We saw during the impeachment trial, they said, "Well, he's not now president anymore, so we can't impeach him." The, "This is the wrong venue charge, this is not appropriate," is something I expect to see going forward, as well as what we've always heard. Trump, when he's cornered says, "These investigations are politically motivated."
Cindy: Andrea, thank you so much for that rundown. Andrea Bernstein is the co-host of the Trump Inc podcast from WNYC and ProPublica. Thanks, Andrea.
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