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Donald Trump's Many Criminal Charges, Explained

Donald Trump's Many Criminal Charges, Explained

Donald Trump
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Here's a look at the 78 charges the ex-president is facing.

With the charges that U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith released this week, Donald Trump has now been charged with 78 counts of criminal conduct. He has pleaded not guilty to all of them, most recently in a Washington, D.C., federal courtroom Thursday to the charges involving efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Forty-four of the charges are at the federal level, 34 at the state level — New York, in this case. All are felonies. Here’s a review of the charges and what they mean.

Election Results

In the indictment released by Smith Tuesday, Trump is charged with four counts. One is conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, relating to his alleged efforts to change the results of the 2020 election, which he lost to Joe Biden. The indictment says these efforts include pressing state officials and Vice President Mike Pence to declare Trump the winner, organizing “fraudulent slates of electors” in seven states, and taking advantage of the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, to delay Congress’s certification of the electoral vote.

Another count is conspiracy against rights — the right to vote and have one’s vote counted. The other two are conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, in this instance, the certification of the electoral vote, and obstruction of that proceeding. Under U.S. law, a conspiracy is any organized attempt by two or more people to break a law.

The indictment says Trump had six co-conspirators, who were not named because they have not been charged. But national media outlets have reported that the six are lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Sidney Powell, Jeffrey Clark, Kenneth Cheseboro, and, most likely, political consultant Boris Epshteyn.

These charges were filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Trump plead not guilty and is set to appear in court again on August 28.

Classified Documents

Trump is charged with 40 counts of wrongdoing related to the retention of classified documents after he was no longer president and therefore was not authorized to possess them. Thirty-two of the counts are “willful retention of national defense information,” with each count representing a different document. These include intelligence briefings regarding other countries, assessments of other countries’ military capabilities, and information about U.S. nuclear weapons.

They were stored at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, and at some point, he took certain documents to his golf club in Bedminister, N.J., according to the indictment. Among other things, he is accused of displaying one of the documents, laying out a theoretical attack on Iran by the U.S. military, to staffers and others at Bedminster.

Six counts relate to accusations that he withheld or otherwise concealed information from investigators, and two involve allegations of making false statements to investigators. Some of the charges of concealing information and making false statements also name Trump valet Walt Nauta and Mar-a-Lago maintenance chief Carlos de Oliveira. Nauta has pleaded not guilty to some charges, but his plea on a recent one has been delayed, and de Oliveira has yet to enter a plea.

These charges came in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The trial is set to begin on May 20.

Falsifying Business Records

In New York State, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is prosecuting Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records, which is a crime in the state if there is intent to defraud or an attempt to commit or cover up another crime. Each count represents a different allegedly falsified record. Trump is accused of disguising campaign expenses as legal costs to hide hush-money payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, with whom he allegedly had a sexual affair. The trial is scheduled for March.

Additional Potential Charges

Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., which includes Atlanta, has been leading an investigation related to accusations that Trump and some of his associates sought to reverse the presidential election results in Georgia, a state carried by Biden. Charges could come as early as this month.

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