a seven-year timeline of key developments ⋆
Former President Donald Trump is a defendant in three criminal proceedings.
Two cases are federal, brought after investigations by Special Counsel Jack Smith. The other case is in New York state court and is being prosecuted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
A fourth indictment, on state charges in Georgia related to Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results there, could come in the near future.
The indictments lay out the alleged crimes by Trump, the first person who has served as president of the United States to face felony charges. In months to come, the legal proceedings in courts from New York to Florida to D.C. will demand Trump’s time and attention as he wages his campaign for the 2024 GOP nomination for president.
To help readers keep track, States Newsroom put together a timeline showing the accusations and legal battles that have swirled around the ex-president, from Trump’s first presidential campaign in 2016 until today.
There are three separate indictments:
- Hush money payments, New York state court: Trump is accused of breaking state law against falsifying business records by reporting hush money payments as legal expenses. According to the prosecution led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Trump’s attorney and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, paid adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to stay silent about an alleged affair between her and Trump. Trump then repaid Cohen through his business, but recorded the transactions as legitimate legal expenses.
- Classified documents, U.S. District Court in Fort Pierce, Florida: Trump is accused of taking classified materials from the White House when he left office, improperly storing them in his South Florida estate and refusing to return them to official record keepers with the National Archives and Records Administration.
- Election interference, U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.: Trump is accused of seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The alleged conspiracy involved using slates of fraudulent electors in seven states, and it culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges. He has also denied having an affair with Daniels.
June 2015-November 2016: Trump’s first presidential campaign.
Oct. 7, 2016: The “Access Hollywood” tape is published showing Trump, years before, bragging about sexually assaulting women. The negative publicity is part of what prompts the Trump campaign to try to limit other negative attention about Trump’s relationships with women, including alleged affairs, according to the New York state court indictment.
Oct. 26, 2016: Cohen wires $130,000 to an attorney for Daniels. In return for that payment, Daniels was to remain silent about an alleged sexual relationship she and Trump had while Trump was married, according to the indictment.
Nov. 8, 2016: Election Day. Trump is elected the 45th president of the United States.
Throughout 2017: Trump makes monthly payments to Cohen to reimburse him for the payment to Daniels, according to the New York indictment. The payments are recorded as legal expenses, according to the indictment.
Nov. 3, 2020: Election Day. Trump appears likely to lose reelection to Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden, but several states remain uncalled for days.
Nov. 7, 2020: News outlets project Biden wins Pennsylvania, reaching the threshold to win the presidential election.
Biden ultimately wins fives states Trump had secured in the previous election: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Those states, along with Nevada and New Mexico, would become the focus of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election by recruiting fraudulent slates of electors, according to the election indictment.
November 2020-January 2021: Trump and a group of at least six co-conspirators conceive and attempt a plan to reverse his election loss, according to the indictment of Trump.
Dec. 14, 2020: State electors certify their votes. Slates of false electors in seven states Trump lost attempt to fraudulently certify votes for Trump.
Jan. 2, 2021: Trump calls Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, attempting to have Raffensperger alter the state’s vote count. Trump asks Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to swing the state to him.
Jan. 3, 2021: Trump meets in the Oval Office with U.S. Justice Department leadership and Jeffrey Clark, then the acting head of the DOJ Civil Division, who had drafted a letter to states implying that federal investigations into election fraud were ongoing.
Trump considered firing the top two DOJ officials, who disapproved of the plan and encouraged Trump to accept the election results, and appointing Clark to lead DOJ. He ultimately declined to elevate Clark. Details of the meeting were described in one of the U.S. House hearings on the Jan. 6 attack and in the election indictment.
Jan. 6, 2021: Trump holds a rally on the White House Ellipse in which he tells supporters to “fight like hell” and implied Vice President Mike Pence could reverse the election result as he certified the state electors, a formality to finalize the 2020 presidential election results.
A large group of Trump supporters violently storm the U.S. Capitol after Trump’s speech to disrupt the certification. Five people died that day or shortly after. Four Capitol Police officers on the scene died by suicide later that year.
According to the prosecutors, the riot was the last step in a multipart plan by Trump to overturn the election results.
Jan. 7, 2021: Congress eventually certifies Biden’s victory at 3:24 a.m.
Jan. 20, 2021: Biden is inaugurated the 46th president of the United States.
Trump leaves the White House for Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. He takes hundreds of classified documents with him, according to a federal grand jury in Florida.
June 9, 2021: The U.S. House votes to form the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6, 2021 Attack on the U.S. Capitol.
July 2021: Trump shows “highly confidential” materials to a writer, publisher and two staff members who lacked security clearance to view the materials, according to the federal indictment.
August or September 2021: Trump shows a classified map of a military operation to a political aide who lacked security clearance, according to the indictment.
Jan. 17, 2022: Trump responds to months of demands from the National Archives and Records Administration to provide missing presidential records by sending 15 boxes of documents containing 197 documents with classification markings, according to the indictment.
March 30, 2022: The FBI opens a criminal investigation into unlawful retention of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
June 3, 2022: In response to a grand jury subpoena, Trump provides 38 more documents with classification markings.
June-December 2022: The U.S. House committee investigating Jan. 6 holds 10 live televised hearings documenting its findings. The panel focuses on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.
Aug. 8, 2022: The FBI searches Mar-a-Lago and recovers 108 more classified documents.
Nov. 15, 2022: Trump announces he is a candidate for president in 2024.
Nov. 18, 2022: Attorney General Merrick Garland appoints former federal and international prosecutor Jack Smith to be special counsel overseeing federal investigations into Trump. With Trump a candidate and Biden likely to seek reelection, the move is meant to insulate the investigation from the perception that the Biden administration is targeting a political rival.
Dec. 19, 2022: The U.S. House committee releases a report of its findings and makes criminal referrals to the U.S. Justice Department for Trump and attorney John Eastman.
April 4, 2023: Bragg announces the 34-count indictment against Trump in New York. It’s the first time a former president has been indicted.
April 4, 2023: Trump appears in state court in Manhattan and pleads not guilty.
June 8, 2023: A federal grand jury in Florida indicts Trump on 37 charges in the documents case. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee. The indictment is issued under seal and is unsealed the following day.
June 13, 2023: Trump appears in federal court in Miami and pleads not guilty in the documents case.
July 19, 2023: A New York judge denies Trump’s request to move the hush money case to federal court.
July 27, 2023: A superseding indictment adds three charges in the classified documents case, alleging Trump and co-conspirators sought to delete potentially incriminating security footage.
Aug. 1, 2023: A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., indicts Trump on four counts related to his efforts to undermine the 2020 presidential election. The case is assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Sue Chutkan, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.
Aug. 3, 2023: Trump appears in federal court in Washington, D.C., and pleads not guilty to charges in the election case, appearing before Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya .
Aug. 4, 2023: Trump pleads not guilty to the new charges in the documents case.
Jan. 15, 2024: The Iowa caucuses are the first nominating contest in the Republican presidential primary.
March 25, 2024: Trial in the New York state case scheduled to begin. Subject to change.
May 14, 2024: Trial in the classified documents case scheduled to begin. Subject to change.
authored by Jacob Fischler
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