Cases involving former President Donald Trump are playing out in four different courtrooms Tuesday, underscoring the legal challenges he faces as he mounts a third run for the White House.
Four days after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee the entirety of the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into Trump’s handling of classified materials after leaving office, the Justice Department was expected Tuesday to ask a federal appeals court in Atlanta to remove the special master — the independent arbiter appointed to review the materials — from the case.
The special master had been appointed by a federal judge in Florida to review materials seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate to determine which, if any, were protected by executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.
The Justice Department already succeeded in extracting documents with classified markings from the review, but now the DOJ is seeking unfettered access to everything taken from Mar-a-Lago in their August raid of the property. Trump has denied wrongdoing.
In New York City Tuesday, the prosecution was expected to rest its criminal case against the Trump Organization. Former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who in August pleaded guilty to skirting nearly $2 million in income taxes, testified last week that it was his decision alone to commit tax fraud by paying no taxes on the fringe benefits he received from the Trump Organization, including rent paid on his Manhattan apartment.
Prosecutors say Weisselberg’s actions implicate the company because he was a “high managerial agent” entrusted to act on its behalf. The Trump Organization has denied wrongdoing.
The defense was to present a short list of witnesses, including the company’s outside accountant from Mazars USA, after which closing arguments will take place after Thanksgiving.
Also Tuesday, attorneys representing Trump were scheduled to appear in New York State Supreme Court at a hearing in the state attorney general’s civil lawsuit against Trump, his children and his company. In September, after a 17-month investigation, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a $250 million civil suit against the Trumps for allegedly “grossly” inflating the former president’s net worth by billions of dollars and cheating lenders and others with false and misleading financial statements.
James subsequently installed a court-appointed monitor to oversee parts of the Trump Organization while the trial proceeds. Trump, who has denied wrongdoing, has called James’ investigation a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
Finally, former Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll was scheduled to appear Tuesday in federal court in New York City for a hearing in her defamation lawsuit against Trump. Carroll sued him in November 2019 after Trump denied raping her by questioning her credibility and saying that she was “not my type.” Trump has denied the charges.
A trial is scheduled for February. Carroll says she is also planning to file a separate claim for battery under a New York law that goes into effect on Thanksgiving, allowing alleged sex assault victims to sue regardless of timeframe.
Despite these legal challenges, the former president has prevailed in a number of recent cases.
Separate lawsuits by Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, and by his former “fixer,” Michael Cohen, were dismissed last week. Also last week, federal prosecutors in New York City declined to charge Trump’s onetime attorney, Rudy Giuliani, with violating foreign lobbying laws. And Trump’s 2016 inaugural fundraiser, Tom Barrack, was found not guilty of illegal foreign lobbying charges three weeks ago.