Mounting legal troubles a potential threat to a Trump 2024 run: The Note

Trump’s open cases could threaten any attempt to return to the White House.

August 19, 2022, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Averi Harper

A flurry of developments in investigations pertaining to former President Trump and his businesses serve as a reminder of the serious legal liability that could await him.

A Florida judge announced Thursday, despite Justice Department objections, that he could release parts of an affidavit investigators used to justify the raid of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.

Former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone and former deputy White House counsel Pat Philbin are among multiple other witnesses interviewed by the FBI as part of its investigation.

This came the same day as Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's longtime CFO, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges in New York that accused him of tax fraud. As part of a deal with prosecutors, Weisselberg agreed to testify against the Trump family business when the company goes on trial in October.

These are in addition to an investigation led by the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, into Trump's efforts to overturn 2020 election results and the DOJ's investigation into the events surrounding Jan. 6.

Trump's open cases could threaten any attempt to return to the White House, but despite various investigations, his influence within the GOP is strong, his endorsees are advancing toward November's elections and the investigations have been used to further fundraising efforts ahead of a possible 2024 run for president.

PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Aug. 06, 2022.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Aug. 06, 2022.
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema

The start of the new school year is putting a spotlight on tensions in classrooms as schools become ground zero in culture wars that stem from some conservative efforts to review -- or outright block -- certain books from being taught or made available to students.

This week, a Texas school district ordered 41 books to be removed from library shelves. The challenged books included The Bible, Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" and an adaptation of Anne Frank's "The Diary of a Young Girl," the Texas Tribune reported. According to the Tribune, the move coincides with the election of three new, conservative school board members being added to the district's board of trustees.

The nonprofit organization PEN America which seeks to protect literary freedom, identified Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Oklahoma, Kansas and Tennessee as the states with the most book bans in place in a report publicized earlier this year. The group also identified trends among the banned books including topics related to race or racism and LGBTQ-related themes.

Librarian advocacy groups say the intensifying scrutiny placed on public education is unprecedented. According to the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), which tracks book challenges on a yearly basis, in the three-month period between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30 last year, "more than 330 unique cases [of book challenging] were reported, doubling the number of reports from 2020" which included 156 challenges. The trajectory put the total number of book challenges in 2021 "on pace to break records with 729 challenges to 1,597 books."

The tensions over censorship could also have an impact on the nation's troubling teacher shortage, which Dr. Erika Kitzmiller of Barnard College says, "is coming on the heels of a massive attack on public education, and the rise of anti-critical race theory, the rise of anti-Black rhetoric [and] censorship in school libraries."

PHOTO: A stock photo of a library.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

The TIP with Miles Cohen

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took a pit stop from his national rally tour on Thursday to announce that his newly minted election police force had uncovered voter fraud.

Flanked by law enforcement, and before a south Florida crowd holding flyers with the words "my vote counts," DeSantis announced that 20 Floridians had been charged with illegally voting in the last presidential election.

They were all convicted of murder and felony sex offenses, he said, rendering them ineligible to vote.

"Yet they went ahead and voted anyways. That is against the law, and now they're going to pay the price for it," he said, from a podium in the Broward County Courthouse.

DeSantis said others are also being investigated by the Office of Election Crimes and Security, which passed Florida's GOP-controlled Legislature earlier this year and just received funding last month. Some groups they are looking into include double voters and "illegal aliens."

DeSantis said the "real protections for voter integrity" will be "live" on the ballot on Aug. 23, when voters hit the polls to cast their ballots in Florida's primary election.

Democrat gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist in a statement accused DeSantis of "playing politics" and said the presser was a "voter intimidation event," as the primary nears.

"DeSantis went to Broward County today for one reason and one reason only -- to intimidate voters and suppress turnout in the most Democratic counties in Florida," his Democratic challenger, Nikki Fried, added.

The governor also faces a reelection bid but scarcely mentioned his opponents. On Friday, DeSantis will leave Florida again to stump across the Rust Belt with two Trump-backed GOP hopefuls.

PHOTO: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference held at the Broward County Courthouse, on August 18, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference held at the Broward County Courthouse, on August 18, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

71. That's the percentage of Americans who said that they've experienced heat, flooding, drought, wildfires or rising sea levels in the communities they call home, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center conducted in May. A majority of the Americans surveyed, including Republicans, thought these events were related to climate change, too, and they want the federal government to take action. But as FiveThirtyEight's Kaleigh Rogers and Zoha Qamar write, many Americans aren't aware of what the federal government is doing to combat climate change.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Friday morning with ABC's Terry Moran discussing whether the Justice Department's Mar-a-Lago search affidavit could be unsealed. Then, ESPN's Mina Kimes reacts to the NFL's Deshaun Watson decision. And, ABC's Mireya Villarreal reports from the Texas border with Mexico as migrant numbers climb.


  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds rallies for candidates in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
  • ABC's "This Week" Exclusive: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). Roundtable: ABC News Contributor Jane Coaston, National Review Editor Ramesh Ponnuru, USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page, The Atlantic Staff Writer Mark Leibovich.

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