By Terrance Turner
November 15, 2022
“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.”
Tonight, Donald Trump announced that he is running for president in 2024. His attorneys tonight filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission for a presidential run.
Trump announced his run at a rally in his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. In a speech given via TelePrompTer, he rattled off a list of accomplishments (some true, some not), claimed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been “fired,” and promoted Herschel Walker (who’s headed for a runoff in the Georgia Senate election). Then, after announcing his candidacy, he attempted to strike a unified tone.
“This will not be my campaign; this will be our campaign,” Trump said. He spoke of unifying various groups; black and white, Asian and Hispanic. “We’re going to bring people together; we’re going to unify people,” he said. But just minutes after, he vowed, “We will defeat the radical left Democrats that are trying to destroy our country from within.”
The announcement comes just a week after the midterm elections. (Votes are still being counted.) It comes on the day of a dramatic escalation of the war in Ukraine. And it’s happening despite the cloud of multiple investigations hanging over him.
The announcement appears motivated by the multiple investigations Donald Trump faces. As the New York Times put it, “His unusually early announcement was motivated in part by a calculation that a formal candidacy may help shield him from multiple investigations into his attempts to cling to power after his 2020 defeat, which led to the deadly mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.”
Trump is under investigation in Georgia for potential election fraud. Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis is overseeing a special grand jury investigating what Trump or his allies may have done to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in 2020. The Atlanta grand jury will feature testimony from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson. Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham lost a court bid to avoid testifying. Other witnesses will testify next week, per CNN.
Willis had pledged to wait until after the midterms to make announcements about possible charges.
The Justice Department, meanwhile, is looking at a plot to submit fake GOP electors from seven states. Fake certificates were created by Trump allies in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico.
There’s an ongoing trial in Manhattan targeting Trump’s business, The Trump Organization. According to CNN, the case concerns a yearslong scheme. Charges have already been filed. Two Trump Organization entities are charged with nine counts of tax fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records in what prosecutors allege was a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities by failing to report and pay taxes on compensation provided to employees.
Former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty to his role in the tax scheme this summer. He testified in the trial recently, although he is not cooperating with prosecutors. The company has pleaded not guilty.
And just today, Weisselberg dropped a bombshell. Rolling Stone reveals that he implicated Trump in tax fraud today. “Allen Weisselberg testified Tuesday that Donald Trump personally green-lighted untaxed benefits that are the center of a Manhattan criminal trial,” wrote reporter Victoria Bekiempis.
“The rent was authorized by Donald Trump,” Weisselberg said while on the stand. (Beginning in 2005, Weisselberg lived in an apartment rent-free on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The Trump Corporation leased the apartment. And in addition to covering the rent, it paid his utility and parking fees, the indictment claims.) Trump’s company also allegedly paid the leases on two Mercedes-Benz vehicles that Weisselberg and his wife treated as personal cars.
Prosecutors allege that the Trump Organization participated in an illicit compensation scheme that illegally lined Weisselberg’s pockets to the tune of $1.7 million of untaxed income. Weisselberg in August pleaded guilty to a 15-count indictment related to these unlawful payouts and, according to Weisselberg’s plea agreement, he “must testify truthfully” if called to testify at trial.From “Trump’s Money Man Just Linked Him to Tax Fraud Scheme”
If Weisselberg testifies honestly, he gets five months in jail and five months probation. Otherwise, he gets more time. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Weisselberg is spilling tea. Judge Juan Merchan asked if he “engaged in a scheme” with the Trump Organization “to defraud federal, New York state, and New York City tax authorities.” Weisselberg answered, “Yes, Your Honor.”
Additionally, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a 250 million lawsuit against The Trump Organization (which includes Trump and three of his adult children.) She filed the suit in late September, alleging “staggering” fraud. (Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump, Jr. are named as defendants in the suit. So are the Organization and its former CFO Allen Weisselberg.) James announced the news in a press conference.
“Good morning,” she began. “Following a comprehensive investigation by my office, including witnesses, interviews with more than 65 witnesses, and review of millions of documents,” she said, “I am announcing that today, we are filing a lawsuit against Donald Trump for violating the law as part of his efforts to enrich himself, his family, and his company. The complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself, to cheat the system — thereby cheating all of us.
He did this with the help of the other defendants: his children, Donald Trump, Jr, Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, and former Trump organization chairperson Allen Weisselberg.”
James said Trump and company manipulated assets and broke several laws. “Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization repeatedly and persistently manipulated the value of assets — to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company; to pay lower taxes; to satisfy continuing loan requirements; and to induce insurance companies to provide insurance coverage with higher limits and at lower premiums. This conduct was all in violation of executive law Section 6312, which gives the Attorney General broad and special powers to go after persistent and repeated fraud and illegality.
As part of demonstrating legality under that section of law 6312, we show that they violated several state and criminal laws, including falsifying business records, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud, and engaging in a conspiracy to commit each of these state law violations. We believe the conduct alleged in this action also violates federal criminal law, including issuing false statements to financial institutions and bank fraud. We are referring those criminal violations that we’ve uncovered to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service.”
Check out her full remarks below.
Of all the investigations Trump faces, the most serious is the FBI probe. On Aug. 8, 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant at Mar-A-Lago. A judge signed off on the warrant. It sought documents that had been taken from the White House.
Trump confirmed the news that night. “My beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” he said in a statement that evening. “Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before.”
He was right.
Mr. Trump was not present at Mar-A-Lago at the time of the search, according to the Washington Post. (He was at Trump Tower in New York.) Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons, told Fox News that he was the one who had informed his father of the search. The search started Monday morning; it went on for four hours, according to CNN. Reporter Randi Kaye confirms that boxes were taken from Mar-A-Lago during the search, and documents were seized.
According to the New York Times, “The National Archives discovered in January that at the end of his term, former President Donald J. Trump had taken to his home at the Mar-a-Lago resort 15 boxes from the White House that contained government documents, mementos, gifts and letters. The boxes included material subject to the Presidential Records Act, which requires that all documents and records pertaining to official business be turned over to the archives.” The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) later confirmed that the boxes contained classified material.
So officials went to go get the boxes. The Washington Post reports that the National Archives went to Mar-a-Lago in February to retrieve 15 boxes of documents and other items from the residence. The material should’ve been turned over to them when Trump left office. But Trump only handed over the materials after a lengthy back-and-forth with his lawyers and the archives — who later confirmed that some of the documents he tried to block from the committee were ones that he’d torn up! On Feb. 18, in a letter to Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), U.S. Archivist David S. Ferriero revealed: “NARA has identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes.”
This story will be updated.