The judicial horizon is loaded for Donald Trump. The first step, Tuesday, is that of the trial in the Senate against the former president (2017-2021) about the invasion, on January 6, of the Capitol, the seat of the American parliament, which he is accused of having provoked. Then, in different cases, the former head of state could be indicted in the next few months in criminal proceedings for allegations related to his affairs.
The New York tycoon, based in his luxurious Florida residence, has long been a regular in civil courts, with an army of lawyers ready to step up to defend him as well as attack his opponents. Once again a simple citizen, he risks the affront of indictment: at least one criminal investigation is aimed at him, led by the New York prosecutor of Manhattan, Cyrus Vance, a Democrat who has been fighting for months to obtain eight years of declarations tax and banking services of the former real estate developer and reality TV star.
Initially centered on payments made, before the 2016 presidential election, to two alleged mistresses of the billionaire, the investigation also examines possible allegations of tax fraud, insurance fraud, or bank fraud. The Supreme Court in July 2020 ordered the president to turn over the requested documents to the prosecutor, but her lawyers have requested her to challenge the scope of those documents. Donald Trump called the investigation “the worst witch hunt in US history.” The Supreme Court has yet to render its decision.
Imprisonment possible, in theory
The case, heard behind closed doors before a grand jury, seems to be moving forward despite everything. According to US media, Cyrus Vance investigators recently interviewed employees of Deutsche Bank, long financial backer of Donald Trump and his holding company, the Trump Organization, as well as his insurance company, Aon. They also re-interviewed the president’s ex-personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who is serving a prison sentence. He asserted in Congress, Parliament, that Trump and his company were artificially inflating or reducing the value of their assets, to alternately obtain bank loans or reduce their taxes.
New York State Democratic Attorney Letitia James is also investigating the allegations. She fought successfully against attorneys for the Trump Organization to be able to audition one of Trump’s sons, Eric Trump, and obtain documents on some family properties. Its investigation is civilian in nature. But “if we found out criminal facts, it would change its nature,” she recently said.
If these accusations are true, they will expose the former president to possible imprisonment. And unlike federal offenses, violations of state laws are not pardonable by the US president, even though Joe Biden, the current president, who has made a vow of reconciliation, would like it.
“A scenario à la Al Capone”
Some anti-Trump are delighted in advance to see the septuagenarian indicted, such as the activists of “Rise and Resist”, who demonstrated in early January in New York to demand his imprisonment. But prosecutors, aware of the electric political climate, may think twice before calling him to account, said several lawyers. “No one is going to rush,” said Daniel Richman, former prosecutor and law professor at Columbia University. “The last thing we want is for the process (judicial) either used, or perceived to be used, as a political instrument, ”he emphasizes.
“There are two schools,” said Roberta Kaplan, a lawyer who is leading three civil actions against the former president. “I am from school who thinks that we should not refrain from doing justice for fear of adding fuel to the fire. If we don’t take action to make it clear that the principles on which this country is based apply to everyone, president or otherwise, I think we run much greater dangers. “
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For Gloria Browne-Marshall, professor of law at the University of the City of New York (CUNY), a Donald Trump in the dock would constitute “a logical outcome”, “a scenario à la Al Capone”, legendary gangster of the years 1920 finally convicted in 1931 for tax evasion. But even if she believes his indictment is likely before the end of the current term of prosecutor Cyrus Vance in November, she would not bet on a trial or a term sentence.
With millions of supporters potentially ready to finance his defense, Donald Trump could counterattack with his own legal actions and drag the cases “for years,” she said. This would force prosecutors, elected officials dependent on taxpayers’ money, to mobilize considerable resources to fight the battle, she adds.
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr