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The latest on Donald Trump's legal issues

What happened today in the Trump investigations

8:25 a.m. ET, March 24, 2023

Trump claims DOJ is creating "unprecedented" carveout in suggesting he’s not immune in January 6 civil lawsuits

President Donald Trump listens during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House April 3, 2018 in Washington, DC.  (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump stood by his broad claims of immunity against January 6-related lawsuits brought against him by police officers and congressional Democrats in a Thursday court filing with a federal appeals court.
The Justice Department has argued that Trump cannot be immune in the lawsuits if he was found to have incited violence, something Trump’s new filing called an "unprecedented specific carve out" to presidential immunity.

Such an exemption to presidential immunity would throw “open the doors for civil claims against a President and creates a stricter standard for a President than for ordinary federal officials, who have successfully claimed qualified immunity on far more egregious facts," Trump's filing said.

“DOJ’s new carve out is a sui generis rule applied ex post facto that has no underlying principle or explanation beyond ‘we think what President Trump did was bad,’” Trump argued in the new filing. “This is not how the rule of law works.” 
The US DC Circuit Court of Appeals is considering whether the former president can be held liable for his conduct in the lead-up to the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol in a civil lawsuit brought by US Capitol Police officers and Democratic lawmakers.  

Trump argued that even if presidential immunity does not cover conduct that incites violence, his speech at the rally that preceded the riot would still be protected because he ���never instructed the crowd to engage in unlawful activity.” 

“President Trump’s use of the word ‘fight’ was clearly metaphorical, referring to a political ‘fight,’ not a literal fistfight or other violent interaction,” his filing said. “For example, he stated, in reference to Rudy Giuliani, ‘He’s got guts. He fights, he fights.’ No reasonable listener would understand that metaphorical statement to suggest that Mr. Giuliani, a 76-year-old man, is getting into fist fights.”

The additional round of briefing was ordered after the DC Circuit heard arguments on the dispute over Trump’s potential immunity.

Those suing Trump over his January 6-related conduct also argued on Thursday that the former president's sweeping claims of immunity should be rejected. But the lawmakers and police officers took issue with the DOJ's recommendation that the DC Circuit issue a narrow ruling on presidential immunity that doesn’t say anything more about the immunity’s limits besides an exception for incitement.

The lawmaker and police officers argued that the DC Circuit should draw firmer lines around when a president can be immune for his conduct while he is in office, saying the question of whether Trump is immune in the case shouldn’t turn on whether he incited private violence, as the DOJ is arguing. 

Their filing said that there are non-violent actions Trump could have encouraged about Congress’ certification that would also fall outside the sphere of the “official” responsibilities of a president. 

“Urging private citizens to use any means that obstruct Congress from carrying out its constitutional duty to certify a presidential election—a procedure the Framers expressly placed beyond presidential reach—bears no connection to any presidential responsibility,” the lawmakers and police officers said in their Thursday submission. 

4:10 p.m. ET, March 23, 2023

Carroll v. Trump jury will be anonymous, judge says, citing Trump's reaction to hush money probe

In this October 2020 photo, E. Jean Carroll departs from her hearing at federal court in Manhattan. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

The court will keep jurors' personal information confidential and take other measures to protect them during the trial on E. Jean Carroll's civil lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, the judge handling the lawsuit said Thursday.
Judge Lewis Kaplan cited Trump's history of attacking the legal system in explaining his reasoning for the extra security measures. In particular, Kaplan highlighted Trump's most recent comments surrounding the Manhattan district attorney's investigation into alleged hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
"Mr. Trump's quite recent reaction to what he perceived as an imminent threat of indictment by a grand jury sitting virtually next door to this Court was to encourage 'protest' and to urge people to 'take our country back.' That reaction reportedly has been perceived by some as incitement to violence," Kaplan wrote.

"And it bears mention that Mr. Trump repeatedly has attacked courts, judges, various law enforcement officials and other public offices, and even individual jurors in other matters," the judge added.

Kaplan, however, did not order the jury to be sequestered for the trial.

The Associated Press and New York Daily News had argued against keeping the jurors anonymous.

Some background: Carroll, a former magazine writer, alleged that Trump raped her in a New York department store dressing room in the 1990s and defamed her years later when he denied the rape, said "she's not my type" and alleged she made the claim to boost sales of her book.
The trial on Carroll's lawsuit accusing Trump of battery and defaming her is scheduled for April 25.
4:07 p.m. ET, March 23, 2023

Pence’s team was expected to argue he’s protected by Speech or Debate clause at sealed hearing on January 6 subpoena 

Former Vice President Mike Pence displayed on a screen during a hearing of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Monday, December 19, 2022. (Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Lawyers for former Vice President Mike Pence were expected to argue in federal court Thursday to block a grand jury subpoena for his testimony related to January 6, 2021, on the grounds that he is protected by the Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause, a person briefed on the matter told CNN.

Over 90 minutes at a sealed hearing in a US District Court in Washington, DC, former President Donald Trump’s legal team was also expected to argue Pence’s conversations with Trump around January 6 should be shielded by executive privilege.

The dispute stems from a subpoena issued in connection with the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation into actions by Trump and his allies after the 2020 election and leading up to the US Capitol attack.

Lawyers for Trump and Pence declined to comment to CNN.

3:07 p.m. ET, March 23, 2023

Trump is involved in several pending personal lawsuits. Here's what to know

Former President Donald Trump leaves after he addressed the annual Conservative Political Action Conference at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on March 4 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump is also involved in several individual lawsuits that are making their way through the legal process — some of which he filed against other parties, including news organizations.
Ongoing lawsuits against Trump:
  • E. Jean Carroll: Former magazine writer E. Jean Carroll alleged Trump raped her in a New York department store dressing room in the mid-1990s and defamed her when he denied the rape, said she was not his “type,” and alleged she had made the claim to boost sales of her book. A Washington, DC, appeals court is reviewing if Trump was acting within the scope of his employment since he made the allegedly defamatory statements. Carroll also sued Trump last year for battery and defamation in a case that will go to trial next month.
  • January 6 police officers: Several members of the US Capitol Police and Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police are suing Trump, saying his words and actions incited the 2021 riot. The various cases accuse Trump of directing assault and battery; aiding and abetting assault and battery; and violating Washington laws that prohibit incitement of riots and disorderly conduct. A federal appeals court is considering Trump’s attempt to throw out the cases.
  • Peter Strzok: Former top FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, who was fired by the FBI in 2018 after the revelation of anti-Trump texts he had exchanged with a top lawyer at the bureau, Lisa Page, has sued the Justice Department alleging he was terminated improperly. A federal judge ruled last month that Trump and FBI Director Christopher Wray can be deposed for two hours each as part of the lawsuit.
Ongoing lawsuits Trump has filed:
  • Bob Woodward: Trump sued journalist Bob Woodward in January 2023 for alleged copyright violations, claiming Woodward had released audio from their interviews without Trump’s consent. Woodward and publisher Simon & Schuster said Trump’s case is without merit. Woodward conducted several interviews with Trump for “Rage,” published in September 2020. Woodward later released “The Trump Tapes,” an audiobook featuring eight hours of raw interviews with Trump interspersed with the author’s commentary.
  • The New York Times, Mary Trump and CNN: The former president in 2021 sued his niece and The New York Times in New York state court over the disclosure of his tax information. The Times is fighting the lawsuit. Trump also sued CNN in a southern Florida federal court last fall, accusing the network of a “campaign of dissuasion in the form of libel and slander” that “escalated in recent months.” CNN has asked the judge for the case to be “dismissed with prejudice.”
12:34 p.m. ET, March 23, 2023

What could happen next if Trump is indicted for his role in a hush money scheme

Former President Donald Trump faces multiple investigations, but the most immediate potential indictment could come from a probe related to his alleged role in a hush money payment scheme involving adult film star Stormy Daniels.
If Trump is indicted, then what happens?

One federal law enforcement source told CNN’s John Miller over the weekend that Trump’s Secret Service detail is actively engaged with authorities in New York City about how this arrest process would work.

It’s usually a routine process of fingerprinting, a mug shot and an arraignment. It would not likely be a public event and clearly his protective detail would move through the building with Trump. New York does not release most mug shots after a 2019 law intended to cut down on online extortion.

Here's how various law enforcement agencies would play a role:

What about a jury?
The Sixth Amendment guarantees “the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.”
The New York State Unified Court System’s trial juror’s handbook explains the “voir dire” process by which jurors are selected. Those accepted by both the prosecution and defense as being free of “bias or personal knowledge that could hinder his or her ability to judge a case impartially” must take an oath to act fairly and impartially.
Could Trump ever go to jail?

He hasn’t been indicted, much less tried or convicted. Any indictment, even for a Class E felony in New York, would be for the kind of nonviolent offense that would not lead to jail time for any defendant.

“I don’t expect Trump to be put in jail if he is indicted for any of these charges. Jail time would only come if he were convicted and sentenced to jail time," said Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Hasen also said the Secret Service would have to arrange for his protection in jail — something that is logistically challenging.

CNN answers more questions related to the cases here.

11:46 a.m. ET, March 23, 2023

Trump defiant as potential indictment looms and claims innocence 

Former President Donald Trump on Thursday remained defiant as the probe by the Manhattan district attorney’s office into the former president’s role in an alleged hush money payment scheme nears its final stages and a potential indictment of Trump looms. 

Trump claimed he was “100% INNOCENT” in a post on his social media website Truth Social on Thursday and baselessly claimed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was taking orders from the “RADICAL LEFT.” 

“OUR COUNTRY IS BEING DESTROYED, AS THEY TELL US TO BE PEACEFUL,” Trump wrote in all caps in the post. 

Over the weekend, Trump claimed he was going to be arrested on Tuesday and called for protests, prompting some allies and advisers to privately urge the former president to tone down his rhetoric, sources told CNN.

11:25 a.m. ET, March 23, 2023

Manhattan DA’s office slams House GOP’s "unprecedented" inquiry motivated by Trump’s claim of imminent arrest

Media cameras sit outside the Manhattan District Attorney's office in New York City on March 20. (Leonardo Munoz/AFP/Getty Images)

The office of Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg accused House Republicans of launching an “an unprecedent inquiry into a pending local prosecution,” while defending the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s hush money payments to an adult film actress during the 2016 election.
In a new letter to Republican lawmakers who earlier this week had sought information about the probe, the District Attorney’s Office’s general counsel Leslie Dubeck told the GOP House committee leaders that they lacked a “legitimate basis for congressional inquiry” and she noted that their requests for information “only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene.”

Dubeck called the Republicans’ claims that the probe was politically motivated “unfounded.”

She added that, “regardless, the proper forum for such a challenge is the Courts of New York, which are equipped to consider and review such objections.” 

Still, she requested that the committees meet and confer with Bragg’s office to discuss whether the House has a “legitimate legislative” purpose for what it is seeking and whether those records could be turned over without infringing on New York’s sovereign interests.

The previous letter demanding information about Bragg’s investigation was sent Monday by House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, House Oversight Chairman James Comer and House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil, who criticized the hush money probe into Trump as an “unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority.”

Dubeck’s five-page response to the Republicans’ demands — which included testimony from Bragg as well as documents and communications related to the investigation — cited case law and legal arguments for why the GOP requests amounted to an “unlawful incursion into New York's sovereignty.”

She said that the Constitution’s 10th Amendment limited the federal government’s authority over local law enforcement and argued that Congress specially is not an executive branch entity with law enforcement powers. Pointing to laws protecting grand jury secrecy, Dubeck added that the House Republicans were seeking “non-public information about a pending criminal investigation, which is confidential under state law,” and therefore, she argued, complying with the committees’ request would interfere with law enforcement. 

Dubeck also scoffed at the Republicans’ claims that they needed testimony from Bragg and the requested documents as part of a congressional review of federal public safety funds.

Dubeck wrote, “the Letter does not suggest any way in which either the District Attorney's testimony about his prosecutorial decisions or the documents and communications of former Assistant District Attorneys on a pending criminal investigation would shed light on that review.”

But, she added, “nonetheless, to assist Congress in understanding the ways in which the DA's Office has used federal funds, we are preparing and will submit a letter describing its use of federal funds.”


10:30 a.m. ET, March 23, 2023

Manhattan grand jury not meeting on Trump hush money case today, sources say, pushing probe into next week

Security barricades set up outside the New York District Attorney's office in New York on Monday, March 20. (Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The Manhattan grand jury investigating Trump’s alleged role in a scheme to pay hush money to an adult film star will not hear that case when it convenes today, according to two sources familiar with the matter, pushing the Manhattan’s district attorney’s probe into next week.

After today, the Manhattan grand jury will next convene on Monday, when it is possible they could hear additional testimony from a witness.

The district attorney’s office declined to comment.

Grand juries typically hear multiple cases at a time.

More background: As the investigation nears its final stages, prosecutors are considering the historic nature of prosecuting a former president – an unprecedented act, sources tell CNN. Other sources tell CNN the DA’s office is taking a moment to regroup after the events of the past week.
New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office has suggested to an attorney for at least one witness in the past 24 hours that they might need to provide more testimony to the grand jury in its hush money probe, according to one source familiar with the probe.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office is trying to determine whether to call back Trump's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, to refute the testimony provided earlier this week by lawyer Robert Costello —or to call an additional witness to buttress their case before the grand jurors consider a vote on whether to indict the former president, the source familiar with the investigation said.

11:18 a.m. ET, March 23, 2023

Federal court will hear case under seal over Pence’s grand jury testimony in January 6 probe

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Calvin Coolidge Foundation conference at the Library of Congress on February 16 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

A federal court hearing over former Vice President Mike Pence's grand jury testimony and Donald Trump's claims of executive privilege over their conversations around January 6, 2021, is set to happen under seal today in Washington, DC.

Trump’s defense attorneys Evan Corcoran, Jim Trusty, John Rowley and Tim Parlatore are at the courthouse as well as Pence’s attorney Emmett Flood. They are expected to argue Trump’s claims of executive privilege. Corcoran declined to comment. 

As CNN reported Wednesday, Corcoran is scheduled to testify Friday at the same courthouse before a federal grand jury investigating possible mishandling of classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago. A federal appeals has court ruled Corcoran must provide additional testimony and turn over documents about the former president as part of the criminal probe. 

Corcoran also declined Thursday morning to say whether he has complied with the appeals court order to turn over notes he had in the classified documents case.

CNN's Sara Murray, Paula Reid and Kaitlin Collins contributed reporting to this post.