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The legal reckoning awaiting Donald Trump if he loses the election

October 17, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

If things don't go Donald Trump's way on Election Day, the President may face more serious matters than how to pack up the West Wing.

As President, Trump has been able to block and delay several of these investigations and lawsuits -- including a yearlong fight over a subpoena for his tax returns -- in part because of his official position.

Trump already lost an appeal to the highest court in July, when it ruled that the president is not immune from a state grand jury subpoena.

The New York attorney general is also proceeding with a separate civil investigation into the Trump Organization and whether it improperly inflated the value of certain assets in some instances and lowered them in others, in an effort to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.

Lawyers for the Trump Organization have said in court documents that they believe New York Attorney General Letitia James is politically motivated, and they initially tried to push off Eric Trump's deposition until after Election Day, but a judge rejected that request.

If Trump is not reelected, he will lose the deference that courts have given to sitting presidents, opening the floodgates for many lawsuits.

In August, after a state court judge denied Trump's effort to delay a defamation lawsuit, the President deployed the Department of Justice to attempt to insert itself in the nearly yearlong litigation.

The Justice Department asked a federal judge to substitute itself in place of Trump in a defamation lawsuit brought by Carroll, a onetime Elle magazine advice columnist, who accused the President of raping her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s.

Another case awaiting decision is a defamation lawsuit filed in New York state court by a former contestant on "The Apprentice," Summer Zervos, who claims Trump sexually assaulted her in 2007.

After a New York state court judge denied Trump's effort to dismiss Zervos' lawsuit, the President appealed the ruling, arguing that the Constitution's Supremacy Clause bars a state court from hearing an action against a sitting president.

Of course, if Trump is reelected, it is possible he may be able to run out the statute of limitations, which for some crimes in New York state law is five to six years; push these lawsuits out another four years; or simply continue to enjoy the benefit of the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel opinion that says a sitting president can't be indicted.

The Office of Legal Counsel memo has already insulated Trump from possible indictment in two instances: the special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller, which found evidence that Trump had committed obstruction of justice but didn't charge him, and the investigation by the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, which cited Trump as "Individual 1" in charging his former lawyer Michael Cohen with campaign finance crimes for facilitating hush-money payments to two women who alleged affairs with Trump.

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