Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:
There are developments in the cases and investigations involving former President Donald Trump.
- Special counsel Jack Smith has informed Trump that he is a target in the Department of Justice’s January 6 investigation. Trump posted on his social media website Truth Social that he received a letter from Smith “stating that I am a target of the January 6th grand jury investigation, and giving me a very short 4 days to report to the grand jury, which almost always means an arrest and indictment.” Smith’s letter to Trump reportedly listed three criminal statutes he may be charged with violating: conspiracy to defraud the United States, witness tampering (obstruction of an official proceeding), and deprivation of rights.
- A federal judge in New York ruled that the hush money criminal case should proceed in New York state court. SDNY Judge Alvin Hellerstein rejected Trump’s request to remove the case to federal court, writing: “The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the matter was a purely a personal item of the President — a cover-up of an embarrassing event. Hush money paid to an adult film star is not related to a President’s official acts. It does not reflect in any way the color of the President’s official duties.”
- Judge Aileen Cannon of the Southern District of Florida indicated that the classified documents criminal trial will be pushed back to 2024, but not until after the presidential election as Trump had requested. At a hearing this week, Cannon said that holding the trial in December, as requested by prosecutors, would be too soon. She called prosecutors’ proposed timeline “compressed” and “a bit rushed.” However, Cannon also seemed to disagree with Trump’s claims that he could not get a fair trial while running for president. Cannon said that other factors would determine the case schedule, such as the volume of discovery. Cannon’s order is expected soon.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has charged 16 pro-Trump fake electors who sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state.
- The charges include conspiracy, forgery, and election law forgery. Among the defendants are Republican National Committee member Kathy Berden, former co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party Meshawn Maddock, and the current mayor of Wyoming, Michigan, Kent Vanderwood.
- In a press release, Nessel said, “[I]t would be malfeasance of the greatest magnitude if my department failed to act here in the face of overwhelming evidence of an organized effort to circumvent the lawfully cast ballots of millions of Michigan voters in a presidential election.”
- These are the first charges to be brought against individuals who took part in the fake electors scheme, which also occurred in a number of other states. Prosecutors in Arizona and Georgia are also investigating the matter.
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