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Trump targeted: A look at probes involving the former president; from Stormy Daniels to Russia to Mar-a-Lago

Former President Trump said leaks indicate that he will be arrested on Tuesday after reports that the Manhattan District Attorney’s office is preparing to issue an indictment for alleged hush money payments made in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

But investigations and talk of possible charges are nothing new for Donald Trump. 

Trump’s presidency was clouded by investigations — several probed whether he colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, some focused on his finances, and others led to impeachment, making him the first president in United States history to have been impeached twice.

Trump’s post-presidential life is reminiscent of his days in the Oval Office, marred by probes which the former president and his allies say are all just part of an effort by his political opponents to derail his 2024 presidential campaign.

Manhattan District Attorney investigation

On Saturday morning, Trump posted about the possible indictment on Truth Social, indicating that he will be ‘ARRESTED ON TUESDAY.’ 

‘NOW ILLEGAL LEAKS FROM A CORRUPT & HIGHLY POLITICAL MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEYS OFFICE, WHICH HAS ALLOWED NEW RECORDS TO BE SET IN VIOLENT CRIME & WHOSE LEADER IS FUNDED BY GEORGE SOROS, INDICATE THAT, WITH NO CRIME BEING ABLE TO BE PROVEN, & BASED ON AN OLD & FULLY DEBUNKED (BY NUMEROUS OTHER PROSECUTORS!) FAIRYTALE, THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE & FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK. PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!,’ Trump wrote.

A court source told Fox News Digital that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office will meet with law enforcement to ‘discuss logistics for some time next week, which would mean that they are anticipating an indictment next week.’ 

The potential charges stem from the $130,000 hush money payment then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election in exchange for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. 

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 after pleading guilty to federal charges, including tax evasion, lying to Congress, and campaign finance violations. Cohen pleaded guilty to arranging payments to Daniels and model Karen McDougal to prevent them from going public with alleged affairs with Trump, which Trump has repeatedly denied. 

Cohen said Trump directed those payments. Federal prosecutors opted out of charging Trump related to the Stormy Daniels payment in 2018, even as Cohen implicated him as part of his plea deal.

Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 through his own company and was later reimbursed by Trump’s company, which logged the payments as ‘legal expenses.’ McDougal received $150,000 through the publisher of the supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer.

The Trump Organization ‘grossed up’ Cohen’s reimbursement for Daniels’ payment for ‘tax purposes,’ according to federal prosecutors who filed the 2018 criminal charges against Cohen for the payments. 

Trump has repeatedly denied wrongdoing with regard to the payments made to Daniels, and has repeatedly said the payments were ‘not a campaign violation,’ but rather a ‘simple private transaction.’ 

The Federal Election Commission in 2021 tossed its investigation into the matter.

The line of inquiry and potential charges come as part of an investigation opened in 2019 by then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. The probe was focused on possible bank, insurance and tax fraud. The case initially involved financial dealings of Trump’s Manhattan properties, including his flagship Fifth Avenue building, Trump Tower, and the valuation of his 213-acre estate Seven Springs in Westchester.

The investigation last year led to tax fraud charges against The Trump Organization, and its finance chief Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty.

Special Counsel investigation into classified records at Mar-a-Lago

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith, a DOJ official, as special counsel to investigate Trump’s alleged improper retention of classified records from his presidency at his Mar-a-Lago home. 

Smith has also taken over the Justice Department’s investigation into the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021—specifically whether Trump or other officials and entities interfered with the peaceful transfer of power following the 2020 presidential election, including the certification of the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, 2021.

President Biden is also currently under special counsel investigation for his alleged improper retention of classified records from the Obama administration. Former Vice President Pence also had classified records at his home—a matter under review by the Justice Department. 

The appointment of a special counsel in the matter comes after the FBI, in August, in an unprecedented move, raided Trump’s private residence at Mar-a-Lago in connection with an investigation into classified records the former president allegedly took with him from the White House.

The raid was related to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which said earlier this year that Trump took 15 boxes of presidential records to his personal residence in Florida. Those boxes allegedly contained ‘classified national security information,’ and official correspondence between Trump and foreign heads of state.

The NARA notified Congress in February that the agency recovered the 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago and ‘identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes.’ The matter was referred to the Justice Department by NARA.

Trump, earlier this year, said the National Archives did not ‘find’ the documents, but that they were ‘given, upon request.’ Sources close to the former president said he had been cooperating and there was ‘no need’ for the raid.

Classified material that was reportedly confiscated by the FBI during the raid Monday included a letter to Trump from former President Obama, a letter from Kim Jong Un, a birthday dinner menu and a cocktail napkin.

Trump’s tax returns probe

Then, on Tuesday, a federal appeals court paved the way for the House Ways and Means Committee to finally obtain Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service—something the panel has been trying to obtain since 2019, under a law that permits the disclosure of an individual’s tax returns to the congressional committee.

Trump may seek emergency intervention measures from the Supreme Court in an attempt to temporarily block any release of these tax records.

Civil investigation into Trump Organization

Over the summer, Trump appeared in downtown New York City for his deposition before New York Attorney General Letitia James. James’ office has been conducting a civil investigation into the Trump Organization to find out whether Trump and his company improperly inflated the value of assets on financial statements in order to obtain loans and tax benefits. 

‘I did nothing wrong, which is why, after five years of looking, the Federal, State and local governments, together with the Fake News Media, have found nothing,’ Trump said in a statement in August. 

‘The United States Constitution exists for this very purpose, and I will utilize it to the fullest extent to defend myself against this malicious attack by this administration, this Attorney General’s Office, and all other attacks on my family, my business, and our Country.’

‘I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,’ he continued. ‘When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you have no choice.’ 

‘If there was any question in my mind, the raid of my home, Mar-a-Lago, on Monday by the FBI, just two days prior to this deposition, wiped out any uncertainty,’ Trump said. ‘I have absolutely no choice because the current Administration and many prosecutors in this Country have lost all moral and ethical bounds of decency.’

Trump added: ‘Accordingly, under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.’

A spokesperson for the New York State Attorney General’s Office confirmed that the office conducted Trump’s deposition.

‘Attorney General Letitia James took part in the deposition during which Mr. Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination,’ the spokesperson said. ‘Attorney General James will pursue the facts and the law wherever they may lead.’

The spokesperson added: ‘Our investigation continues.’

However, Trump’s Republican allies are seeing a pattern, and encouraging him to continue to fight back.

‘Before he’s in the White House, they go after him. While he’s in the White House, they go after him, and they’re continuing to do so now that he’s left,’ the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told Fox News. ‘It actually started before he was even president.’

FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe

When Trump took office in January 2017, the FBI was in the middle of conducting a counterintelligence investigation into whether candidate Donald Trump and members of his campaign were colluding or coordinating with Russia to influence the 2016 election. That investigation was referred to inside the bureau as ‘Crossfire Hurricane,’ and began on July 31, 2016.

That investigation was opened, despite then-CIA Director John Brennan briefing then-President Obama on July 28, 2016 about a purported proposal from one of Hillary Clinton’s campaign foreign policy advisers ‘to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.’

In September 2016, the CIA properly forwarded that information through a Counterintelligence Operational Lead (CIOL) to then-FBI Director James Comey and then-Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok, with the subject line: ‘Crossfire Hurricane.’

Fox News first obtained and reported on the CIOL, which stated: ‘The following information is provided for the exclusive use of your bureau for background investigative action or lead purposes as appropriate.’

 ‘An exchange [REDACTED] discussing US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning US presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering US elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server,’ the referral states.

It is unclear how the FBI handled that memo.

Special Counsel John Durham is currently investigating the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe. 

After Trump’s victory and during the presidential transition period, Comey briefed Trump on the now-infamous anti-Trump dossier, containing salacious allegations of purported coordination between Trump and the Russian government. It was authored by Christopher Steele, an ex-British intelligence officer.

The DOJ inspector general later revealed that the unverified dossier helped serve as the basis for controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants obtained against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. 

It is now widely known that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded the dossier through the law firm Perkins Coie.

During the early months of Trump’s administration, Jeff Sessions, who served as attorney general at the time, recused himself from oversight of the FBI’s Russia investigation, due to his involvement with the Trump campaign, per Justice Department regulations. Then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was then tasked with oversight of the investigation.

Trump, in May 2017, fired then-FBI Director James Comey. Comey, during his June 2017 testimony to Congress, said he deliberately leaked a memo from a key meeting with Trump to a friend after he was fired in order to prompt the appointment of a special counsel.

‘I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter—I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel,’ Comey testified.

Mueller’s investigation and report

Days after Comey was fired, Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to take over the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe.

The Mueller investigation clouded the Trump administration for nearly two years.

Simultaneously, investigations into Trump-Russia allegations were launched on Capitol Hill—in both chambers of Congress.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Intelligence Committee opened investigations into whether Trump and members of his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential race. 

Neither the House nor Senate investigation found evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia. 

After nearly two years, Mueller’s investigation, which concluded in March 2019, yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller, though, did not draw a conclusion on whether the president obstructed justice. At the time, then-Attorney General Bill Barr and Rosenstein concluded the evidence from the Mueller case was ‘not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.’

Once Mueller’s findings were made public, congressional Democrats seized on the issue of obstruction of justice, and began ramping up investigations on matters that spanned from Trump’s personal finances to security clearances for Trump administration officials, all whilst the drumbeat of impeachment built within the House Democratic caucus.

Investigations led by House Democrats

In March 2019, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., announced a wide-ranging probe into almost every aspect of Trump’s administration, business ventures, and family dealings, subpoenaing more than 81 individuals and entities to investigate ‘alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses of power by President Trump.’ 

But Nadler wasn’t alone— a number of other House panels also stepped up inquiries.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee, which was chaired, at the time, by Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., dissolved the panel’s subcommittee on terrorism and re-directed those resources to a subcommittee dedicated, instead, to investigations related to Trump—specifically his relationships and communications with foreign officials, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Congressional committees, at the time, were also seeking access to State Department employees and contractors with knowledge of Trump’s communications with Putin, including the ‘linguists, translators, or interpreters’ who participated in or listened to Trump-Putin meetings.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who pushed the Trump-Russia collusion narrative for years, in 2019, continued his investigation into the matter, claiming he had evidence of collusion, despite Mueller’s findings.

Declassified transcripts from House Intelligence Committee interviews, which Fox News first reported on in 2020, revealed, among other things, that top Obama officials acknowledged they had no ’empirical evidence’ of collusion or a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election. 

Also in the spring of 2019, the House Ways and Means Committee sued the Trump administration, accusing officials of violating federal law by refusing to comply with the panel’s requests and subpoenas for documents related to Trump’s tax returns.

The House Oversight Committee, at the time, also subpoenaed Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA LLC for his financial information, including annual statements, periodic financial reports and independent auditor reports from Mazars, as well as all communications with Trump.

Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee also subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Capital One over Trump’s financial statements.

In the middle of the congressional investigations into his finances, Trump’s business dealings were also being probed in two separate investigations in New York— one by then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and the other by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Trump’s administration was even being investigated by the House Oversight Committee over security clearances given to officials, probing the process that gave clearances to White House staff.

Ukraine call and first impeachment

But everything came to a head in July 2019—Trump had a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

During that call, Trump pressed Zelenskyy to launch investigations into the Biden family’s actions and business dealings in Ukraine—specifically Hunter Biden’s ventures with Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings. Hunter Biden, at the time, was, and still is, under federal criminal investigation for his tax affairs, prompted by suspicious foreign transactions.

The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and some witnesses have cited as a quid pro quo arrangement. Democrats also claimed Trump was meddling in the next presidential election by asking a foreign leader to look into a Democratic political opponent.

Trump’s conversation with Zelenskyy prompted a whistleblower complaint, which led to the House impeachment inquiry, and ultimately, impeachment proceedings in the Senate.

The House voted to impeach Trump in December 2019 on two counts— abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Senate voted for acquittal in February 2020.

‘At some point, you got to ask, you know, the motive,’ Jordan said of the investigations. ‘And the motive is this guy came to town and shook up the place—he changed the clique that exists there in D.C., he took on the clique and the bureaucracy and everything else, and the folks there said, no, we just can’t have this, and that’s why they go after him so hard.’

COVID-19 accusations

Weeks after Trump’s first acquittal, in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the world, shutting down the U.S. economy and global markets, with millions of people around the world contracting the novel coronavirus.

Trump was accused, throughout, of not taking the virus seriously. Democratic senators, including now-Vice President Kamala Harris, called for an investigation into the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats also said they would create a 9/11-style commission to probe Trump’s response.

The Trump administration, though, launched Operation Warp Speed—a public-private partnership to create vaccines against the novel coronavirus, as the pandemic raged in 2020. Under his administration, the Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. 

Trump in December 2020 signed an executive order that would ensure all Americans had access to coronavirus vaccines before the U.S. government could begin aiding nations around the world. 

Russian bounties to kill U.S. troops

In another congressional probe, during the pandemic, Trump was hammered by Democrats over when he was briefed, and his response to Moscow, related to intelligence that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops.

A year later, during the Biden administration, officials admitted that intelligence was unverified.

2020 presidential election

Throughout 2020, Trump was also criticized for questioning the security of the upcoming presidential election, and for repeatedly saying it would be ‘rigged’ due to the pandemic-era process of mail-in ballots.

Biden won the 2020 election, but Trump claimed it was stolen, and his legal team filed a slew of lawsuits in battleground states across the nation.

January 6 riot and second impeachment

On Jan. 6, 2021, pro-Trump rioters breached the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College results in favor of President Biden. Trump was permanently banned from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube after the riot.

The House of Representatives then drafted articles of impeachment against him again, and ultimately voted to impeach him on a charge of inciting an insurrection for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot—making him the first and only president to be impeached, and ultimately acquitted, twice in history.

Trump’s legal team denounced the proceedings as an unconstitutional ‘sham impeachment’ against a private citizen, driven by Democrats’ ‘hatred’ for Trump and desire to silence a political opponent. 

The Senate voted to acquit, but had Trump been convicted, the Senate would have moved to bar the 45th president from holding federal office ever again, preventing a 2024 White House run.

In Georgia, in early 2021, prosecutors in Fulton County opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state, including his phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump suggested the Republicans ‘find’ enough votes to change the results. 

And when Trump left office, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol began its probe into the Capitol riot.

That committee spent more than a year investigating, and launched a series of hearings last summer, some during primetime, in an attempt to capture Americans’ attention before the November midterm elections—as they compete with record-high inflation, record-high gas prices, shortages in baby formula, a looming recession, and more for political attention.

When Republicans took the majority in the House of Representatives after the 2022 midterm elections, the Jan. 6 committee’s work was completed, and the committee was shut down.

Special Counsel Jack Smith took over the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 investigation. 

Fulton County, Georgia 2020 election investigation

In Georgia, in early 2021, prosecutors in Fulton County opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state, including his phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which Trump suggested the Republicans ‘find’ enough votes to change the results. 

A special grand jury last month released portions of a report detailing its findings in the investigation last month.

The report indicated a majority of the grand jury believes that one or more witnesses may have committed perjury in their testimony, and recommends that prosecutors pursue indictments against them, if the district attorney finds the evidence compelling.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told Fox News Digital that the report does ‘not even mention’ Trump’s name and has ‘nothing to do with the president because President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong.’

‘The President participated in two perfect phone calls regarding election integrity in Georgia, which he is entitled to do—in fact, as President, it was President Trump’s constitutional duty to ensure election safety, security, and integrity,’ Cheung said. ‘Between the two calls, there were many officials and attorneys on the line, including the Secretary of State of Georgia, and no one objected, even slightly protested, or hung up.’

He added: ‘President Trump will always keep fighting for true and honest elections in America.’ 

 

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS