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Trump has taken 2 big legal blows


Former President Donald Trump suffered two big legal setbacks yesterday. First, the New York attorney general sued Trump and three of his adult children, alleging years of fraud in the family business. And then last night, a federal appeals court said prosecutors could review classified materials the FBI seized from Trump's Florida estate, overruling a lower court. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson is following the former president's legal travails. Hey, Carrie.


SHAPIRO: Big picture, it's getting hard to keep track of all the lawsuits and investigations involving Donald Trump. The two I mentioned are just the beginning, right?

JOHNSON: Yeah. I think it's time for us to create a spreadsheet over here. The former president is now facing legal trouble in New York and Georgia, as well as multiple investigations by the U.S. Justice Department. It's not clear whether Donald Trump will face any criminal charges, but these investigations are taking up time and money, and they could extend well into next year.

SHAPIRO: I mean, to look at Mar-a-Lago, it's been almost two months since the FBI searched Trump's resort in Florida and took dozens of items. Tell us about the latest action from the appeals court.

JOHNSON: Just last night, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, including two judges Trump appointed to the bench, sided with the Justice Department. The court ruled that prosecutors could resume their work, looking at a-hundred-odd pages of documents marked classified that the FBI seized in Florida last month. The court found the lower court judge had simply gotten it wrong, that Trump had no personal interest in those papers and had put forth no proof he declassified them. The former president addressed that issue of declassification with Sean Hannity on Fox News.


DONALD TRUMP: If you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified, even by thinking about it, because you're sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you're sending it. And there doesn't have to be a process. There can be a process, but there doesn't have to be.

JOHNSON: That's what Trump says, but the courts are not buying it. The judges - the appeals court judges said this classification issue is a red herring. These papers don't belong to the former president anyway. So this investigation into obstruction and mishandling government secrets will continue, and the classified material will not be part of the special master review.

SHAPIRO: All right. Shifting from Florida to New York, there is this civil case naming Donald Trump and his children that the state's attorney general filed yesterday. Why is that lawsuit unusual?

JOHNSON: Well, because it's a civil lawsuit. The burden of proof will be lower for the state. Attorney General Letitia James is suing Trump and his children, Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka. Here's what she says.


LETITIA JAMES: This conduct can not be brushed aside and dismissed as some sort of good-faith mistake. Statements of financial condition were greatly exaggerated, grossly inflated, objectively false and therefore fraudulent and illegal.

JOHNSON: The attorney general is asking that the Trump family members be barred from leadership roles in any New York companies. She also wants $250 million. And Letitia James says she's making a criminal referral to the top federal prosecutor in New York. Now, the former president and his adult children say that case is politically motivated, and they have also called it a witch hunt.

SHAPIRO: There are lots of other cases we could mention, but one big one is the Justice Department investigation into the insurrection at the Capitol, which seems to be getting closer to Donald Trump. What's the latest there?

JOHNSON: Yeah. The House select committee investigating the January 6 riot says it will hold another public hearing next week. It's for the Justice Department. It's set to begin a trial next week of the leaders of the far-right group known as the Oath Keepers. They're charged with seditious conspiracy. Of course, former President Trump has not been charged with wrongdoing over anything related to January 6, but dozens of his allies have received grand jury subpoenas. The FBI has seen seized some of their phones. We have not seen or heard the last of this by a long shot.

SHAPIRO: NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson, thanks for the roundup.

JOHNSON: Happy to be here. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.