Here are 10 Times Donald Trump Broke The Law And Got Away With It
President Donald Trump has amassed a lengthy rap sheet since launching his first campaign but he has been able to repeatedly get away with crimes thanks to plenty of assistance from his Justice Department and Republicans in Congress.
The Trump campaign and inner circle employed so many officials that have since been convicted of crimes it can reasonably be labeled a criminal organization. Former campaign chief Paul Manafort is serving a seven-year prison stint. Longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen is serving a three-year sentence while Roger Stone, the president’s oldest political adviser, faces a lengthy prison bid as well. Manafort deputy Rick Gates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos were all convicted in former special counsel Bob Mueller’s probe.
Since then, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who helped Trump and attorney Rudy Giuliani hunt for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden in Ukraine, were indicted on charges that they illegally funneled foreign money to a pro-Trump super PAC and other Republican campaigns. Giuliani himself is under investigation for his role in the Ukraine scheme and his work with Parnas and Fruman by the Southern District of New York, the same office he once led as a prosecutor.
Many of these people implicated Trump in wrongdoing but Republicans in the Justice Department and in the Senate have been able to bat back any attempts to hold the president accountable. Here are just some of the crimes the president has committed since launching his campaign.
1. Extorting Ukraine to help cheat in the 2020 election
One day after Mueller testified to Congress, an emboldened Trump demanded Ukraine help him in the 2020 election by announcing an investigation into the Bidens, a plot Giuliani bragged about publicly months earlier. The pressure was revealed in a whistleblower complaint that was found credible by three top administration officials. All three reported the contents of the complaint to the DOJ but Attorney General Bill Barr’s department did not follow up.
Since then, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney publicly admitted there was a “quid pro quo,” as did multiple other officials. Trump himself doubled down on the illicit scheme by publicly calling for Ukraine — and China — to investigate Biden’s son, Hunter. The House voted overwhelmingly to impeach Trump for the scheme and for obstructing their investigation. But the Republican-led Senate, after refusing to allow witnesses to testify and voting against admitting new damning evidence, acquitted him mostly down party lines. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney became the first senator in history to vote to convict a president of his own party but every other Republican voted to acquit Trump, even as many called his behavior “wrong,” “shameful,” and “inappropriate.”
2. Obstruction of justice
Former special counsel Bob Mueller was unable to show evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians, though that was hampered by Trump associates deleting evidence sought by prosecutors from their phones and devices. Mueller did, however, detail 10 potential instances of obstruction of justice committed by Trump, all of which were based on testimony from his former senior advisers. Mueller said he was prevented from bringing charges against Trump under decades-old DOJ guidelines that prevent a sitting president from being prosecuted. Democrats opted not to pursue an impeachment inquiry related to the obstruction but Mueller suggested that Trump could still be charged after leaving office.
3. Tax fraud
A 2018 New York Times investigation detailed numerous instances of “dubious tax schemes” and “outright fraud” by the Trump family in the 1990s. The investigation found repeated instances of tax fraud that allowed the family to minimize the tax burden on the more than $1 billion in wealth Fred Trump left to his children. The scheme allowed the family to pay $52 million in taxes instead of the more than $550 million they were liable for. Former federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, Trump’s sister, retired rather than face an investigation into her role in the scheme. Trump could still face charges in New York.
4. Illegally paying off women to stay quiet about alleged affairs
Longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen admitted that he organized hush payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom alleged extramarital affairs with Trump, during the campaign. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations over the payments but said they were made at Trump’s direction. New York prosecutors are still investigating Trump’s role in the case.
5. Knowingly employing undocumented workers
Despite Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, The Washington Post reported that at least 11 Trump properties employed dozens of undocumented workers as maids, cooks, and caddies. Many of the workers said they were hired despite managers knowing they were not in the US legally. The Trump Organization vowed to do a better job of screening employees but the Trump Winery continued to employ undocumented workers until the end of 2019, when they fired workers en masse after the harvest was already over.
6. Obstruction of Congress
Along with the obstruction of Congress charge in the articles of impeachment, Trump has also refused to comply with lawful subpoenas in Congress’ oversight of the Russia investigation, Trump’s finances and tax returns, Trump’s business dealings, the hush money payments, inappropriate actions by administration officials, the family separation policy, the Puerto Rico hurricane response, and numerous other scandals.
7. Misusing charity funds
Trump was caught stealing money from his own charity but was allowed to settle the case for $2 million last year after he admitted to using funds raised for veterans and other nonprofits to promote his campaign and settle business debts.
8. Defrauding Trump University students
Trump was caught defrauding students who signed up for Trump “University,” a pricy real estate seminar. Trump was allowed to pay just $25 million without admitting any wrongdoing to settle the lawsuit during his 2016 campaign.
9. Bragging about sexual misconduct
Trump has been largely unscathed by the dozens of allegations of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other misconduct against him, despite bragging in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape about grabbing women “by the pussy” without their consent. Two of those women, former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos and longtime columnist E. Jean Carroll, are suing Trump for defamation for claiming they lied.
10. Violating the Presidential Records Act
Trump has repeatedly (falsely) claimed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi violated the law by tearing up his State of the Union speech but the president himself has run afoul of the Presidential Records Act himself by tearing up his documents. As a result, a team of White House aides are now tasked with literally taping back together scraps of paper torn up by the president.