Two years after Donald Trump won the presidency, every organization he has led in the past decade is under investigation or involved in at least one lawsuit.
Trump’s private company, the Trump Organization, is facing civil suits digging into its business with foreign governments as well as state criminal inquiries into its tax practices.
Trump’s 2016 campaign is being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller, who has obtained guilty pleas from his campaign chairman and four top advisers.
Trump’s inaugural committee is being scrutinized by Mueller for illegal foreign donations, a topic that the incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff plans to further investigate next year. His daughter Ivanka was involved and may be facing fraud and tax charges.
Trump’s charity is involved in an ongoing lawsuit with New York state, which has accused the foundation of “persistently illegal conduct.”
The mounting lawsuits and investigations are turning into a mountain of legal challenges that are likely to dominate Trump’s third year as president. When Democrats take over the House in January they will open their own investigations into all of the above matters as well as several more, including Trump money-laundering.
Ultimately the legal controversies that plague Trump and his family could cost him a lot of money. On top of that they could lead to criminal charges, and possibly impeachment.
The most immediate impact though has been in the news media. Trump’s legal troubles are dominating the news cycles each day, putting him and other Republicans on the defensive. This has cost them what the Washington Post calls “political capital.”
According to the Post:
“On Capitol Hill this week, weary Senate Republicans scrambled away from reporters to avoid questions about Trump and his longtime fixer Michael Cohen — and Cohen’s courtroom assertion that he had been covering up Trump’s “dirty deeds” when he paid off two women who claimed they had affairs with the president before he was elected.”
Many members of Congress have expressed their frustration.
Sen. James E. Risch of Idaho said, “I don’t do any interviews on anything to do with Trump and that sort of thing, okay?”
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said:
“There’s no question that it’s a distraction from the things that obviously we would like to see him spending his time on, and things we’d like to be spending our time on. So that’s why I’m hoping that some of this stuff will wrap up soon and we’ll get answers, and we can draw conclusions, and we can move on from there.”
And as Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said, “It’s been a bad week for Individual Number One.”
Trump has reduced his public schedule and is spending more time than usual in his official residence, sometimes not coming to the Oval Office until nearly noon. Every week he has dozens of hours of unstructured “executive time.”
As the threats to his presidency, his businesses, and his family grow, Trump has grown increasingly isolated and frustrated.
“He’s just never been targeted by an investigation like this,” said Timothy L. O’Brien, a reporter who wrote a biography of Trump. “He’s never faced the kind of legal scrutiny he’s getting right now — and the potential consequences of that scrutiny — are unlike anything Donald Trump or his children have ever faced.”
Here is a summary of what Trump is facing, not counting potential new investigations from Democrats in Congress:
- Mueller’s special counsel probe
- The campaign-finance/hush money investigation
- Scrutiny of the inaugural committee for tax and other legal violations
- The emoluments lawsuits
- New York state inquiries into the Trump Organization and Trump Foundation
- Zervos Defamation Lawsuit
The cumulative weight and the pressure of this many legal actions is taking its toll on Donald Trump. He could be facing indictments and impeachment hearings, as well as substantial financial losses. Increasingly it looks like the rest of the time that Donald Trump is president will be spent on fighting off legal threats instead of taking care of the business of the country.
We need a president who will address America’s problems, and not spend every waking hour dealing with his own personal and business problems. This is why we need a new president — and the sooner the better.