Trump inches toward reelection bid while still facing legal jeopardy

Donald Trump appears to be inching closer to announcing a reelection bid. People close to him say the announcement could come as early as this month, after the midterm elections. Meanwhile, the former president is facing legal exposure on multiple fronts. Investigative journalist Andrea Bernstein joins Geoff Bennett to discuss.

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  • Geoff Bennett:

    Donald Trump appears to be inching closer to announcing a reelection bid. People close to him say the announcement could come as early as this month after the midterm elections. That's with a former president facing legal exposure on multiple fronts. He remains under subpoena by the Congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and must start producing documents no later than next week.

    He also sits at the center of a criminal investigation into 2020 election interference in the State of Georgia. And in a civil case in New York against the Trump organization's business practices. Joining us with more is investigative journalist and author Andrea Bernstein. She's a member of the ProPublica team covering democracy and a frequent contributor to NPR. It's great to have you with us.

  • Andrea Bernstein, ProPublica:

    Great to be here.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    So, let's start with the January 6 investigation because the former President faced a Friday deadline to turn over documents to the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol as part of what was an historic subpoena last month. But what exactly was the committee looking for?

  • Andrea Bernstein:

    So, the committee said that this was the final piece of its investigation that had spoken to everybody else but to understand certain things that happened around January 6, it needed to hear from former President Trump and the subpoena was quite specific and listing out a number of areas where it wanted more information whether the President had filed any kind of false documents whether he had incited a crowd that he knew was violent. What his communications or what information he had whether he hadn't deuced his Vice President Mike Pence or tried to induce him not to certify the election. So, it had a broad range of areas that it was seeking information on. And it asked for all documents and records pertaining to that, as well as the testimony of the former president.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    And in New York State, as we mentioned, there are actually two cases one in which a state judge this past week, ordered a monitor to oversee the Trump organization's financial statements after the Attorney General there asked for additional oversight to stop what she alleged is decades of fraud of the Trump Organization, what's the significance of that move by the judge?

  • Andrea Bernstein:

    Yes, well, if that monitor is installed as ordered, and it survives appeal, it's not even sure that it will be appealed at this point, then that would be an extraordinary oversight inside the Trump Organization. Nothing like that has ever happened really, since the beginning of the company.

    What the Attorney General has said is that there was a persistent pattern of fraud at the Trump Organization and she has sued Donald Don Jr, Ivanka, and Eric Trump for $250 million over this. And she went to the judge last month and said, this may still be happening, please put in a monitor to make sure it doesn't happen. And while you're at it, please make sure that the Trump organization doesn't transfer large assets out. So, if we win our case, we can we can get our money essentially.

    The Trump Organization argued in court vehemently against that this week. They said it was bordered on nationalization of private enterprise that it was completely inappropriate. But the judge went all in and he said the Trump Organization deserves an outside monitor that can review the books of the Trump Organization and determine whether the values they are giving you their assets are truthful and accurate.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    And in Georgia, in the state of Georgia, a prosecutor there is leading an investigation into efforts by the former president and his allies to overturn the 2020 election. She as I understand it is aiming to sort of quickly wrap up the grand jury's work after the midterms could start issuing indictments as early as December. That seems to be the most active of the investigations, at least so far, as we know but it's not clear who would face indictments.

  • Andrea Bernstein:

    Right in terms of a criminal investigation of what occurred on 20 — in 2020, of the Georgia one seems, from what we can tell from the outside and we don't have complete visibility obviously seems the one that's closest to a conclusion. We know that the district attorney in Georgia has been asking to speak to witnesses, there have been court fights, but largely the DA there, Fani Willis, has prevailed and has been able to get the testimony. Now we will obviously know the outcome until we see what if any action is taken in Georgia. And in all of these actions, the parties that are being questioned, the former president and his allies have said they have done nothing wrong.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    And then we add to all of that, the ongoing DOJ investigation following the recovery of classified material taken from the White House discovered at Mar-a-Lago and there's this lingering question as to whether Merrick Garland will become the first attorney general in American history to indict a former president that's unfolding as Donald Trump is inching closer to launching another presidential run after the midterm election.

  • Andrea Bernstein:

    Right, all of this is unprecedented, as is the fact that right now, the former president's company is on trial in Manhattan for allegedly deceiving the tax authorities here in New York. So, we are looking at the possibility of another some kind of criminal action in the coming period. And there has never been anything like this in American history, although we have seen it around the world where a somebody who is running for office and a former president is in fact has a business associated with him being criminally trialed and also is under multiple criminal investigations from the Department of Justice. We don't know where if anywhere those will lead.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Investigative Journalist and author, Andrea Bernstein. Thanks so much for your insights and for your time.

  • Andrea Bernstein:

    Thank you.

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