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Trump’s thorny judicial horizon after leaving the White House

The formula of the car pardon flies over the final stage of the New York tycoon in the Presidency

On January 20, 2021 Joe Biden will become the new president of the United States. Then, and with immediate effect, the term of Donald Trump will come to an end, and without the presidential stripes and without the crutch of the Justice Department, he will have to face alone the possible judicial fronts that may arise, some of which are already open.

Trump has used the title of president as a kind of armor, legal and moral, to respond to any kind of criticism. The New York mogul has denounced from the moment he sat in the Oval Office a “witch hunt” in which he has included federal agencies, political opponents, foreign governments and women with whom he had allegedly gone beyond.

Several of the judicial fronts that are already open are set in New York, where lawyer Michael Cohen even pleaded guilty to breaching campaign regulations by acknowledging that he paid $ 130,000 to actress Stormy Daniels not to publicly reveal an ‘affair’ in which the aforementioned includes Trump. The court documents cite “individual 1”, who was a “successful candidate for the Presidency” of the United States, as a conspirator.

The Prosecutor’s Office also examines possible crimes linked to the Trump Organization, the business conglomerate that the now president founded and suspected of falsifying records, tax fraud or insurance fraud. Contrary to the case opened for the alleged relationship with Stormy Daniels, in this aspect, it could be possible to enter the field of federal crime, according to NBC News.

Cohen, who has gone from ally to enemy of the tycoon after his fall from grace, has also accused Trump of manipulating his business accounts in order, on the one hand, to be able to present data that would guarantee the obtaining of loans and, on the other, to pay the lowest possible amount of taxes. Trump has boasted of this engineering publicly.

The president has avoided making his remarks public, although ‘The New York Times’ has published after an arduous investigation that Trump did not pay federal taxes for a large number of years and that, when he did, he hardly contributed to the public coffers with 750 dollars . Trump has challenged in court the delivery of these papers and the final decision will foreseeably remain in the hands of the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, the attorney general of New York, Letitia James, investigates four real estate projects of the Trump Organization and its failed attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills rugby team. The investigations are in this case civil, not criminal, but it is not ruled out that they may be referred to other prosecutors if indications arise.

If the business arena can give civilian Trump more of a headache, so can the staff. In recent years, several women have accused the president of incidents of a sexual nature, something that the president has always denied, even publicly mocking the alleged victims.

The time that has elapsed since the alleged events and the difficulties of defending the case before a judge have led several women to use the media as a loudspeaker, instead of the courts. However, some have filed a complaint, such as columnist E. Jean Carroll, who in 2019 accused Trump of abusing her in a store fitting room more than 20 years ago.

In this case, Carroll denounced Trump for defamation, after the president said that the columnist was not her type and questioned the version she gave in the book. Trump charged the Justice Department with his defense, something that a judge overthrew in October with a symbolic sentence in which he raised a clear line between the possible pending responsibilities of the tycoon and his current position.

Also open is a case initiated by a former contestant of ‘The Apprentice’, Summer Zervos, who in early 2017 denounced Trump for defamation, whom she had previously accused of touching her breasts and kissing without her permission. The president initially agreed to testify, but his lawyers requested a postponement of the appearance and it is not expected to arrive until at least 2021.


Faced with the turbulent horizon, Trump could opt for a preventive pardon, an option that several legal experts have raised in recent months but that does not have to survive in court. In any case, as president, immunity could only be granted at the federal level, which leaves open, for example, the ongoing proceedings in New York at the state level.

Trump, who this week issued a pardon for his former adviser Michael Flynn, would have already begun to ask several advisers in 2017 about the viability of the ‘auto pardon’, according to sources cited by CNN. The president has not dodged the issue in public either: “As numerous jurists have assured me, I have every right to forgive myself, but why would I do so if I have not done anything wrong?” He posed on Twitter in July 2018 .

The clearest argument in this regard was given by the Justice Department in August 1974, four days before Richard Nixon resigned. Then, it was established that “under the fundamental premise that no one can be a judge of his own case, the president cannot pardon himself.”

This doctrine has remained in the political arena for now, since no one has taken it to court, and it did not prevent Nixon from receiving the usual pardon, although this had to be signed by his successor in the White House, Gerald Ford, and not by himself.

In addition, the 1974 document would open the door to another scenario by recalling that the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the Constitution establishes that in the event of temporary incapacity of the country’s head of state, it is up to his ‘number two’ to assume the reins of the country and “could President”. Once this pardon has been obtained, the president “could resign or resume the duties of his office.”

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