Donald Trump’s legal battles are of significant interest to the American public, not only because of the potential for criminal consequences, but also because of his political history. Trump is the first former president to have been indicted on criminal charges, and could be the first presidential nominee to be found guilty of a felony. 

Trump Under Indictment

Trump is currently under indictment in four different criminal cases, in four different jurisdictions. Three of the cases are directly related to actions that took place while Trump was president, with two cases specifically regarding the 2020 election and the Big Lie.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

The case in Washington D.C. regards Trump’s alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 election and install himself as president in lieu of Joe Biden, and he is facing multiple accounts of conspiring to defraud the United States and obstruct a federal proceeding. In Georgia, Trump and 18 other defendants are facing state RICO charges regarding their attempt to overturn Georgia’s election results. 

Other Cases in Florida and New York

The case in Florida regards Trump’s handling of classified documents after he left office, a case that has faced myriad controversy not just because of the former president who is indicted. The judge in the case, Aileen Cannon has also come under fire for her clear favoritism of the former president. 

Source: Wikimedia/Shaleah Craighead

However, one case against Trump has nothing to do with his job as the president or his political aspirations at all. In New York, Trump is currently under indictment for more than thirty counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, a felony charge that carries a potential sentence of five years per count. 

Alleged Hush Money Payments

The New York case surrounds alleged hush money payments that were made in 2016 during Trump’s first presidential run to Michael Cohen. Cohen is Trump’s former personal attorney, who claims that Trump gave him a $130,000 payment to make to adult film actress, Stormy Daniels. 

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

The money was allegedly meant to pay off Daniels and prevent her from revealing an affair that she and Trump allegedly had in 2006. The payment was allegedly made to prevent Daniels from coming out with her story during Trump’s 2016 presidential run, which he would go on to win. 

Trump Denies the Affair

Trump has denied the affair with Daniels outright, as well as the allegations of having given Cohen money for “hush payments.” The indictment in the hush money trial was the first that came down against the former president in 2023, and Trump has claimed that it, and all the other cases against him, have been brought down in a political “witch hunt.”

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

In spite of his denials, Trump and his team have been doing everything in their power to delay the trial. All of the trials, in fact. Trump spent more than $50 million in legal fees in 2023, much of which was donated to several of his super PAC’s, and it looks like he’s going to continue spending as the trials ramp up this year. 

Rumors of Multiple Affairs

Of course, this is not the first time that the former president has been accused of being unfaithful to a woman that he was married to. He has been married three times in his life, with Melania his latest marriage.

Source: Wikimedia/Boss Tweed

None of the affairs have ever been proven with evidence, though. The Stormy Daniels accusation is the most public accusation that has come out against the former president, though that’s largely due to his status as a public, political figure. Had Trump not run for president, any accusation of an affair would have remained a moderately interesting human interest piece. 

Political Influence Matters

Because he was president, though, the affair becomes a much more significant factor. Trump has aligned himself with many of the values of the modern Republican party, including “family values,” in the vague sense that the term is used. Many of Trump’s supporters are Evangelical Christians, who hold marital honor and integrity in the highest regard. 

Source: Wikimedia/Official White House Photo

The alleged Stormy Daniels affair challenges many of the perceptions that Trump has tried to create about himself in the years since deciding to run for president. The fact that his business and personal lawyer were also involved creates an even larger problem for the former President, who has sold himself as a wildly successful and wealthy businessman in order to appeal to the American people. 

The Usual Tactics Aren’t Working

All of these perception challenges make it a difficult sell for the former president to simply let the court case play out. He’s running for president again this year, and that means that his reputation has to be above board if he hopes to win back the Oval Office this November.

Source: Wikimedia/Marc Nozell

Trump’s usual delay tactics don’t seem to be working in this case, though. Trump has tried to have the judge in the case recuse himself due to the fact that Judge Merchan’s daughter works for a Democratic organization, with the request being filed for the first time in May of 2023. Merchan refused to recuse himself at the time.

Attempting to Delay, Yet Again

Now, after multiple other appeal filings – including an attempt to get the case removed from the state of New York to a federal court docket instead – have failed, Trump appears to be trying his first tactic of recusal, yet again.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

With one week to go, Trump is reportedly moving to sue Judge Merchan yet again, in another effort to delay the criminal trial. Opening arguments are set to begin on April 15, and polling data shows that any court case or conviction would be politically very bad for Trump during election season. He’s clearly hoping to delay the trial as long as humanly possible. 

Criticizing the Gag Order

The reasoning behind the delay tactic this time surrounds the gag order that Judge Merchan recently implemented against the former president. Merchan ordered that Trump was barred from attacking “reasonably foreseeable witnesses” as well as lawyers working on the case, court staff, or their families at the end of March.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

Trump then went onto his social media platform, Truth Social, complaining about the gag order and attacking the Judge and his daughter yet again, claiming bias due to the fact that Merchan’s daughter works for a political consulting firm which works with Democratic clients. 

Expanding the Gag Order

Trump wasn’t explicitly barred from criticizing Merchan or his daughter in the initial gag order, and after Trump attacked them both online, Merchan released another filing, expanding the gag order. 

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

Now, Trump is barred from speaking publicly about the family members of District Attorney Alvin Bragg, as well as the family members of the Judge himself. This is far from a comprehensive gag order, though that doesn’t seem to matter to the former president. He has claimed that gag orders are a violation of his free speech rights, though the law doesn’t agree. 

No Stranger to Gag Orders

Trump is no stranger to gag orders, despite his complaining. He has attempted to have multiple gag orders thrown out in criminal trials in the past, with no success. One gag order, in a New York civil fraud trial last fall, actually resulted in the former President having to pay significant fines due to violating the parameters of the gag order.

Source: Wikimedia/White House

He is also unlikely to succeed in his attempt to have the gag order thrown out this time. This is likely something that Trump and his team are aware of. The most recent appeal – which has yet to be made public – is merely meant to push the trial back beyond its planned start date of April 15. 

Asking the Judge to Recuse, Again

Separately from the appeal of the gag order, Trump is again asking for Judge Merchan to recuse himself from the case. He has, again, claimed that Merchan’s daughter is a conflict of interest, given his status as a political candidate and the fact that Merchan’s daughter works for the firm that she does.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

It is, again, unlikely that Merchan will suddenly decide to recuse himself when the request failed last year. Trump is merely using every tactic he can think of to delay, and when that fails, to make himself look like a victim of political persecution. 

No Stranger to Court

Trump is no stranger to court cases, though these are the first criminal cases that he will be forced to sit trial for. The stakes are high, and Trump has a significant amount to lose should he be found guilty in any of his criminal trials.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

It’s likely that Trump and his team will continue to try and have the New York case thrown out, even if they’re unsuccessful in delaying beyond next week. There’s very little standing for it, so it’s seeming more and more likely that the former president is going to see his very first day in criminal court, very soon.