NEW YORK (AP) — Acquitted by the Senate of inciting last month’s U.S. Capitol insurrection, former President Donald Trump faces more fallout from the unrest, including a lawsuit from a congressman on Tuesday. But his biggest legal problems might be the ones that go much further back.
In one of what is expected to be many lawsuits over the deadly riot, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson accused Trump of conspiring with far-right extremist groups that were involved in storming the Capitol.
Trump, who made a fiery speech to supporters prior to the riot, could also be hit with criminal charges — though courts, wary of infringing free speech, have set a high bar for prosecutors trying to mount federal incitement cases.
But riot-related consequences aren’t the only thing Trump has to worry about.
With his historic second Senate impeachment trial behind him , here’s a look at the legal road ahead for Trump:
Criminal investigations: Atlanta prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into whether Trump attempted to overturn his election loss in Georgia , including a Jan. 2 phone call in which he urged the state’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to reverse Biden’s narrow victory.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat elected in November, announced the probe Feb. 10. In the call, Trump told Raffensberger: “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have” to get to erase Biden’s lead, and argued that Raffensberger could alter the results to award him the necessary votes , an assertion the Republican secretary of state firmly rejected.
Details of the call, such as Trump’s focus on the vote total, “lets you know that someone had a clear mind, they understood what they were doing,” Willis told MSNBC last week. “When you’re pursuing the investigation, facts like that — that might not seem so important — become very important.”
Willis’s office declined to identify who was under investigation but said it was focusing on “the matters reported on over the last several weeks,” including Trump’s call. The Washington Post, the Associated Press and other media outlets obtained a recording of the call Jan. 3.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller described the Georgia inquiry as the continuation of a “witch hunt” — a term Trump himself has used to describe investigations into his behavior — and the “Democrats’ latest attempt to score political points” at the expense of the ex-president.
Karl Racine, the attorney general for Washington, D.C., has said district prosecutors could charge Trump under local law that criminalizes statements that motivate people to violence.
But the charge would be a low-level misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of six months in jail.
Federal prosecutors in Washington, meanwhile, have charged some 200 Trump supporters with crimes related to the riot, including more serious conspiracy charges. Many of the people charged said they acted in Trump’s name.
But the bar is very high to charge Trump with any crimes related to the riot. There has been no indication that Trump would be charged in the riot though prosecutors have said they are looking at all angles.
Trump could also be sued by victims, though he has some constitutional protections, including if he acted while carrying out the duties of president.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat, is in the midst of an 18-month criminal investigation focusing in part on hush-money payments paid to women on Trump’s behalf, and whether Trump or his businesses manipulated the value of assets — inflating them in some cases and minimizing them in others — to gain favorable loan terms and tax benefits.