The Legal Problems Donald Trump Faces Out of Office — from Accusations of Fraud to Defamation
"President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen," Sen. Mitch McConnell said in February
With the presidency now behind him, Donald Trump is facing a growing number of lawsuits and investigations related to his past behavior — most recently, the U.S. Capitol attack in January.
Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP in February sued Trump, 74, for allegedly conspiring with extremist groups ahead of the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, just days after the former president was again acquitted in his unprecedented second impeachment trial.
The congressman's suit — not the last concerning Trump's role in the riots — was against the former president "solely in his personal capacity," according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE. (The defendants have not entered a response, records show.)
The riot-related lawsuit serves as a reminder of the exposure Trump faces without the legal veil of the presidency.
Lawsuits Over His Effort to Overturn the 2020 Election
Trump "is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (who voted to acquit Trump) nonetheless warned in a speech last month.
In addition to Thompson's lawsuit over the Capitol riot, in which five people died, Trump is also facing investigations in Georgia after his Jan. 2 call to the state's top election official.
Trump asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" him enough votes to somehow declare him the state's winner over Joe Biden, who beat Trump in November's election by 11,779 votes.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis announced a criminal investigation into Trump's call last week, while PEOPLE confirmed the state was also probing Trump's call to Raffensperger.
Trump says he did nothing wrong in the January call and his attorneys have likewise argued he did not incite his supporters in connection with the Capitol attack.
Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell filed another suit on Friday, alleging that Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., attorney Rudy Giuliani and Republican Rep. Mo Brooks not only incited the riot, but also aided and abetted rioters. As a result, the suit claims, Swalwell and "hundreds of others — including police officers, other elected officials, and rank-and-file workers at the Capitol —were put in mortal danger."
Swalwell, a California lawmaker who helped to lead impeachment arguments against Trump for inciting insurrection, said that the former president "lied to his followers" about a rigged election because he was "unwilling to accept defeat."
The Democrat's suit alleges that Trump and his allies violated a number of Washington, D.C., laws by engaging in "conspiracy to violate civil rights" and violating an "Incitement to Riot" statute.
It was unclear Friday if the defendants had entered a response yet. The Trumps have denied wrongdoing and Giuliani denounced the rioters.
Defamation Lawsuits Following Sexual Assault Allegations
In New York, Trump is the subject of two defamation lawsuits from women who say the former president sexually assaulted them years before his presidency, claims he adamantly denies.
Former Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll sued Trump in 2019, arguing the former president defamed her while repeatedly denying that he raped her in a New York City department store in the 1990s.
Trump lambasted the longtime advice columnist on Twitter after she told her story. Her filing said Trump "accused Carroll of lying about the rape in order to increase book sales, carry out a political agenda, advance a conspiracy with the Democratic Party, and make money."
Separately, Trump is facing another defamation lawsuit filed by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, who accused the former TV host of sexual assault during the 2016 campaign.
Zervos filed suit after Trump called her claims "a hoax" on Twitter, the Associated Press reported.
Legal Investigations Into His Real Estate Business
The former president is also facing New York state investigations into whether he or the Trump Organization lied about the true value of their assets in order to get better tax benefits.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. is investigating Trump and his family business in a criminal matter at the local level; New York Attorney General Letitia James is also looking into his business dealings.
In addition to the investigation into possible fraud surrounding his business, Trump's niece, Mary Trump, sued the former president last September, CNN reported.
In her lawsuit, Mary accused Trump and his siblings — her aunt Maryanne Trump Barry and the estate of her late uncle Robert Trump — of fraudulently swindling her out of her family inheritance through her late father, Fred, the eldest Trump brother, who died in 1999.
"Fraud was not just the family business," she wrote in the lawsuit. "It was a way of life."
Trump has said he did nothing wrong.
There are yet other investigations, however: D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit filed last month against Trump's 2017 inaugural committee and the Trump Organization for allegedly overcharging the committee for use of the Trump Hotel in D.C. during the festivities, NBC News reported.
After the district called Ivanka Trump, the former president's daughter and senior adviser, in for a legal deposition last December, the attorney general filed a lawsuit in January charging the committee in a scheme to "grossly overpay" more than $1 million for the use of a ballroom at the Trump Hotel, during the inaugural events.
The Trump Organization maintains no wrongdoing, while Racine's lawsuit read: "District law requires nonprofits to use their funds for their stated public purpose, not to benefit private individuals or companies," adding that the district is "seeking to recover the nonprofit funds that were improperly funneled directly to the Trump family business."
Ivanka has suggested prosecutors are targeting the Trumps because of politics and that the investigation, and her five-hour deposition, was born out of "vindictiveness" and were a "waste of taxpayer dollars."