The former US president once described himself as “the most innocent man anywhere in the history of the United States”.
It’s the kind of thing innocent people are so fond of saying, right? Well, he now has more evidence for the claim after being acquitted on charges of inciting a violent insurrection over the weekend.
He was so innocent, in fact, that several Republican senators argued he was guilty of inciting January’s riot at the Capitol Building minutes after they’d voted to acquit him of that charge.
Trump has an investigations-to-convictions ratio that would make John Gotti proud.
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The Mueller report
For the first three years of Trump’s presidency, the report undertaken by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in the 2016 election was the last hope of centrists everywhere. The election was illegitimate, just as we suspected, and now the system can reassert itself!
Those people were always going to be disappointed but perhaps no one was prepared for what an anti-climax it turned out to be.
Of course, it was also miles from the “total exoneration” Trump claimed. It found, among other things, that the Russian government tried to help Trump’s campaign and that Trump’s campaign advisers had a lot of troubling ties to Russia. Further, Trump tried several times to influence or stop the investigation.
Profiting off the presidency
Soon after Trump took office, members of Congress voiced concerns he would illegally profit off the presidency.
Their concerns were well-founded: Trump spent tens of millions of taxpayers’ dollars visiting his own properties and hosting campaigns and committees there. He was hosting then Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe at his private Mar-a-Lago resort when North Korea launched a test missile, prompting a wave of social media attention for the crisis by candlelight.
The initiation fee for membership at the club doubled following Trump’s inauguration. US servicepeople stayed and played golf at a Trump resort in Scotland, former vice-president Mike Pence spent time at a remote Trump resort in Ireland and a $30,000 Christmas party was hosted at Trump’s DC hotel.
At a G7 summit, Trump brazenly advertised his Miami resort to other world leaders, bidding to host the next years’ event there.
Attorneys argued Trump benefitted whenever foreign or state governments visited Trump International hotels in Washington and New York. The Supreme Court dismissed the cases as moot as Trump was no longer president.
Anti-nepotism laws bar presidents from hiring relatives to cabinet or agency jobs. But technically, the White House doesn’t count as an agency in the eyes of the law.
This was the consensus of Trump’s legal team, who were hired after the president announced plans to give his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner key roles in the White House. The pair made up to US$640 million while working there and pro-democracy groups are still fighting to close the legislative loophole.
Impeachment number one
There was always talk — some serious, some fanciful — of impeaching Trump. But, until 2019, it remained just that: talk. It was then that a whistleblower revealed an impeachable act so brazen, careless and unapologetic as to defy belief.
It was revealed that, in a phone call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump sought an investigation into Joe Biden’s son Hunter — thus damaging the Democratic frontrunner’s chances in 2020 — in return for ongoing military aid. This and the White House’s attempts to obstruct Congress, as Guy Rundle put it at the time, are “exactly the sort of thing that impeachment articles were put into the constitution for”.
But what was true in 2021 was also true in 2020: impeachment is a political process more than a legal one. In both cases there were enough Republicans in the Senate to ensure Trump was acquitted.
Sexual misconduct accusations
One woman accused Trump of sexual assault in 1994, at a party thrown by Jeffrey Epstein. She dropped the suit after allegedly receiving threats. Another woman who accused Trump of forcibly kissing her dropped her lawsuit saying Trump had just too many resources.
As of this year, 26 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct.
What’s to come?
Now that he is out of office, Trump faces a wave of defamation lawsuits, including from Summer Zervos and E Jean Carroll; both women, who have accused Trump of assault and rape, have been called liars by Trump. Stormy Daniels also expects her defamation case to start back up.
A lawsuit launched by Trump’s niece is also expected to kick off. She has accused Trump and his siblings of defrauding her out of an inheritance worth tens of millions of dollars.
Of course, this is a story that is a long way from being finished. In Georgia, there’s a criminal probe into Trump’s conduct after the election. He faces a broad criminal investigation from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office into whether the Trump organisation breached state laws around — among other things — insurance and tax fraud.
And in Washington, the District of Columbia attorney-general has said Trump could still face criminal charges for his role in the storming of the Capitol.
Wrenched from the legal protections of the Oval Office, Trump will have ample opportunity to continue proving his innocence.