The Courier

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The Courier

The Courier

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The Legal Troubles of President Donald Trump

As Trump faces past and upcoming trials, an election hangs in the balance.

With former President Donald Trump waging more battles in the courtroom than on the campaign trail, many assumed President Joe Biden would be facing an alternate Republican candidate, such as the former-governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, or the governor of Florida, Ron Desantis. However, with Desantis dropping out in late January and Haley following suit in early March, the stage is set for a Biden-Trump rematch. 

And according to many polls, a rematch most Americans did not want.

While visiting many states plays a significant role in presidential campaigns, political ads and mass media are perhaps even more crucial. As he has done for years, Trump will criticize Biden’s age and perceived economic hardships during the past four years. Biden will most likely highlight Trump’s legal battles, most notably his impeachments and civil trials.

Trump’s Impeachments

Trump has been impeached twice, more than any other president in American history. However, that by itself means very little as twice he was acquitted. All that needs to happen to impeach a president is for the House of Representatives to approve the articles of impeachment against the president. This does not convict him of any wrongdoing; it merely enables the Senate to hold an impeachment trial requiring a two-thirds majority for a conviction. On two separate occasions, the House of Representatives, held by Democrats, approved the articles of impeachment: December 18, 2019, and January 13, 2021. He was first impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and then impeached for his role in the January 6th Capitol Riot

The first impeachment trial was in response to Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine leading up to the 2020 election. Abuse of power related to the alleged withholding of foreign aid from Ukraine if they declined to investigate the Biden family, and obstruction of Congress related to Trump ignoring subpoenas from the House of Representatives. However, this trial did not impact the 2020 election too much. Covid effectively swept this trial under the rug, so while this impeachment did not hurt Trump too much, his second trial will play a large part in the 2024 election.

After Trump lost the 2020 election, he claimed that the voting was rigged and that he had been “cheated” out of a second term. A few months of this rhetoric eventually culminated in the Capitol Riot on January 6th, when a planned protest went awry as rioters stormed into the Capitol building. Because Trump was the event organizer, many believed he was responsible for the riot. However, the Senate disagreed with this claim, as Trump was later not convicted.  Yet, this impeachment and Trump’s more recent legal issues will do no favors for the Republican nominee in this year’s election. Biden and other Democrats will not let voters forget about what they call “Trump’s Capitol Riot”. 

Trump’s Recent Civil Lawsuits

In 2023, New York Attorney General Letitia James brought a civil fraud case against Trump, alleging that he had, over a decade-long period, over-inflated his net worth by as much as $3.6bn a year over a decade to fool bankers into giving him better loan terms. Just last month, a judge found the former-president guilty of fraud and ordered him to pay $355.9m in penalties and fines. This case starkly contrasts Trump’s other battles because he lost, badly. In most other cases, Trump could point out that he was not convicted of anything and claim that the whole process was a sham. However, Trump’s opponents will undoubtedly run campaigns on this massive loss, cutting into Trump’s most notable characteristic: his ego. 

  Trump will also face a few more legal battles in the coming months. He is set to face a court in March over his hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. He is also being charged in Florida for mishandling the classified documents in his Mar-A-Lago residence and in Washington and Georgia for his interference to overturn their electoral votes. In addition to these courtroom battles, some states have attempted to remove Trump from their ballots for his role in January 6th and other events regarding the 2020 election. Colorado tried to remove Trump from the 2024 ballot, but the Supreme Court overturned their ruling

Even with these troubles, it seems as though Republican voters are not too worried. According to a poll by the New York Times, if the 2024 election were to have been held on February 25, 2024, then 43% of respondents would have voted for Biden and 48% for Trump. On the other hand, polls are consistently unreliable. Hillary Clinton led Trump in polls for essentially the entire campaign, and then Trump won that election with 304 electoral votes. A large percentage of voters have made up their minds regarding whom they would support. The election will come down to winning over swing voters in a handful of key states: the people who supported Trump in the 2016 election and the same people who voted for Biden in the 2020 election. Whoever can cater to these voters with ads and on the campaign trail will be our next president. 

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