Photograph: Octavio Jones/Reuters He’s Teflon Don no more, at least when it comes to court.
Donald Trump, no longer insulated by claims of presidential protections, faces a host of increasingly serious legal problems in some of the US’s most high-profile courts, including both criminal investigation and civil litigation.
So even as Trump maintains his grip on the Republican party and teases ambitions to run again for president in 2024 – his legal woes could render all that debate meaningless: Trump’s future could lie in the courtroom, not the Oval Office.
Trump “can face criminal charges for activities that took place before he was president, after he was president, and while he was president – as long as they were not part of his duties while he was president of the United States,” said attorney David S Weinstein, partner at Jones Walker LLP’s Miami office.
Trump has not been charged with any crimes, and he has repeatedly denied wrongdoing personally and in his business dealings. His attorneys did not respond to requests for comment. A request for comment through his website received an automatic response of: “Thank you for your inquiry. Our staff is currently reviewing your request.”
But the exact impact of this on Trump’s political future is unclear. Political science experts say that legal actions against Trump might not pose problems, as even if he were found to have committed wrongdoing, his loyalists might stick with him.
The most threatening legal investigation, which involves potential for jail either for Trump or his associates if it proceeded and resulted in conviction, does not relate to his presidential duties.
The Washington Post reported on 25 May that Manhattan prosecutors had convened the grand jury that is “expected to decide whether to indict Donald Trump, other executives at his company or the business itself, should prosecutors present the panel with criminal charges”.
This development suggests that Manhattan prosecutors’ inquiry into Trump and his business concerns have hit an “advanced stage” after proceeding for more than two years. More, it indicates that Manhattan prosecutors believe they have discovered evidence of a crime. This potential evidence could be against Trump, an executive at his company, or his business.