Since leaving office in January 2021, former president Donald Trump has been mired in legal difficulties, with a sprawling array of investigations probing his activities in office, his business and his private life.
These legal entanglements threaten to derail Trump’s ambitions to run for president in 2024. Outside of politics, they could also cost him millions or lead to indictments on charges that carry lengthy prison sentences.
Developments in the civil, federal and fact-finding investigations spanning from New York to Florida have come at a rapid pace in the form of Justice Department filings, state and local government disclosures, and media reports. Grid has sorted and summarized those developments in a live tracker that will be updated as long as these investigations continue.
Here is a look at the major ongoing investigations involving Trump, along with news coverage tracking the latest significant developments.
The Department of Justice investigation into government records stored at Mar-a-Lago
Investigation type: Criminal
What is under investigation: On Aug. 8, federal authorities executed a search warrant on Trump’s Florida resort as part of an ongoing criminal investigation of the storage of classified records and other sensitive documents at Mar-a-Lago. The search warrant and a warrant affidavit were unsealed in federal court in late August, revealing that federal investigators had been authorized to seize all physical documents and records located at the property “illegally possessed in violation of” three different criminal laws, including a portion of the Espionage Act. In addition to classified and top secret documents, the affidavit states: “There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the premises.”
Why it matters: Trump has not been accused of a crime in the matter, and the search warrant and affidavit do not amount to a formal accusation. However, the three potential crimes being investigated carry lengthy prison sentences.
"The Justice Department said it would appeal a federal judge’s decision to appoint a special master to sift through thousands of documents the FBI seized from Donald Trump’s Florida residence on Aug. 8, according to a Thursday court filing."
"The order almost certainly slows the pace of the department’s investigation into the presence of top-secret information at Mar-a-Lago, particularly given the judge’s directive that the Justice Department may not for the moment use any of the seized materials as part of its investigation into the storage of government secrets at the Florida property."
"While the unprecedented search has galvanized many Republicans to Trump’s defense, others in the party are unwilling to speak up, often wary of crossing him."
The Fulton County district attorney’s investigation into electoral interference in Georgia
Investigation type: Criminal
What is under investigation: In early 2021, Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis opened an investigation of Trump’s alleged efforts to sway the election results in Georgia, including a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with state Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump said he wanted to “find” enough votes to make up for his margin of defeat. Willis in January requested a special grand jury with investigative power, and in July a judge approved the grand jury’s subpoenas for Trump lawyers Kenneth Chesebro, John Eastman, Jenna Ellis, Rudy Giuliani and Cleta Mitchell, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who also made postelection calls to Georgia election officials.
Why it matters: Solicitation of election fraud is a crime in Georgia, and legal experts told Grid that Trump may have violated state law. The Fulton County district attorney’s investigation has developed at a rapid pace this year and could ultimately lead to criminal charges against Trump or his allies.
The House select committee’s investigation of the Jan. 6 attack
Investigation type: Congressional fact-finding
What is under investigation: Since July 2021, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol has been probing efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. At the committee’s first public hearing in June, its chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the committee’s work had uncovered “a sprawling multistep conspiracy aimed at overturning the presidential election” and that “Donald Trump was at the center of this conspiracy.” The committee has since received additional information and is expected to hold additional public hearings this year.
Why it matters: The Jan. 6 committee does not have the power to bring charges, but it can make referrals to other agencies and can uncover facts that prompt further investigation by law enforcement. Committee members have signaled an intent to deliver a final report by the end of the year, and the committee’s authorizing resolution specifies that it will terminate within 30 days of issuing that report.
The Department of Justice investigation into the Jan. 6 attack
Investigation type: Criminal
What is under investigation: The federal investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the Capitol Building has so far led to more than 800 arrests. By March, the federal investigation into the insurrection had reportedly broadened to include actions by former government officials, including Trump, involved in orchestrating the “Stop the Steal” rally that precipitated the attack. Justice Department prosecutors have reportedly asked witnesses about Trump’s actions in front of a federal grand jury. In early September, a federal grand jury reportedly issued new subpoenas seeking information regarding Save America PAC, one of Trump’s major political fundraising vehicles.
Why it matters: Despite the prosecution and conviction of hundreds of individual participants in the Jan. 6 attack, none of the powerful political figures involved in the events of the day have been charged with a crime. But one year after the attack, Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the Justice Department “remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law.”
The New York state attorney general’s investigation into Trump’s businesses
Investigation type: Civil
What is under investigation: New York State Attorney General Letitia James in early 2019 began a civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s financial practices following congressional testimony by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen indicating the company deflated assets in order to decrease its taxes. Trump’s son Eric Trump was deposed in October 2020 and pleaded the Fifth Amendment more than 500 times. In August, Donald Trump was deposed in the investigation and pleaded the Fifth more than 400 times.
Why it matters: The New York state attorney general’s investigation could lead to a range of outcomes for the Trump Organization, up to and including a possible lawsuit, or even the company losing its ability to conduct certain business operations in the state. Additionally, facts that have come to light through the civil investigation have factored into a joint criminal investigation with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
New York attorney general and Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s investigation into Trump’s business dealings
Investigation type: Criminal
What is under investigation: In 2020, then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. began an investigation into the finances of the Trump Organization. By mid-2021, the state attorney general’s office had joined the Manhattan district attorney in the investigation. In July 2021, the Trump Organization and its longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg were charged in a 15-count indictment alleging they “engaged in a scheme constituting a systematic ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud.” Weisselberg in August pleaded guilty to 15 felonies, many of which related to concealing benefits in order to underreport his income.
Why it matters: Weisselberg is by far Trump’s longest-tenured business partner and one of his most loyal lieutenants. He has reportedly not agreed to cooperate with authorities in their broader investigation into Trump but is required as part of his plea deal to testify at the Trump Organization trial scheduled to take place later this year.
Thanks to Lillian Barkley for copy editing this article.