Here are some of the lawsuits, criminal probes that await Trump as he leaves office

Click to play video: 'America Votes 2020: Trump refuses to accept Biden victory, doubles down on legal challenges'
America Votes 2020: Trump refuses to accept Biden victory, doubles down on legal challenges
WATCH: President Donald Trump refuses to accept the results of the U.S. presidential election after Joe Biden projected to win. – Nov 7, 2020

Since taking office in January 2017, President Donald Trump has been besieged by civil lawsuits and criminal investigations of his inner circle.

With Democrat Joe Biden capturing the presidency on Saturday, according to all major U.S. television networks, Trump’s legal woes are likely to deepen because in January he will lose the protections the U.S. legal system affords to a sitting president, former prosecutors said.

Here are some of the lawsuits and criminal probes that may haunt Trump as he leaves office.

A New York prosecutor

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who enforces New York state laws, has been conducting a criminal investigation into Trump and the Trump Organization for more than two years.

Story continues below advertisement

The probe originally focused on hush money payments that Trump’s former lawyer and self-described fixer Michael Cohen paid before the 2016 election to two women who said they had sexual encounters with Trump, which the president has denied.

Vance, a Democrat, has suggested in recent court filings that his probe is now broader and could focus on bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

Click to play video: 'U.S. election: Trump’s lawyer Giuliani alleges voter fraud in number of states'
U.S. election: Trump’s lawyer Giuliani alleges voter fraud in number of states

Republican Trump has called Vance’s case politically motivated harassment.

The case has drawn attention because of Vance’s efforts to obtain eight years of Trump’s tax returns. In July, the U.S. Supreme Court, denying Trump’s bid to keep the returns under wraps, said the president was not immune from state criminal probes while in office, but could raise other defences to Vance’s subpoena.

Story continues below advertisement

Vance will likely ultimately prevail in obtaining Trump’s financial records, legal experts said.

The U.S. Justice Department has said a sitting president cannot be indicted. Vance is not bound by that policy because he is not a federal prosecutor, but he may still have been reluctant to charge Trump because of uncertainty over whether the case was constitutional, said Harry Sandick, a former prosecutor in New York.

“Those concerns will disappear when Trump leaves office,” Sandick said.

The investigation poses a threat to Trump, said Corey Brettschneider, a professor of political science at Brown University.

“The fact that they have issued the subpoenas and have litigated all the way to the Supreme Court suggests that this is a very serious criminal investigation of the president,” Brettschneider said.

Justice department probe?

Click to play video: 'U.S. election: How legitimate are the Trump lawsuits?'
U.S. election: How legitimate are the Trump lawsuits?

Trump could conceivably face a criminal prosecution brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, led by a new U.S. Attorney General.

Story continues below advertisement

Some legal experts have said Trump could face federal income tax evasion charges, pointing to a New York Times report that Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017.

“You’ve got the stuff that has come out of the New York Times that has all kind of indicia of tax fraud,” Nick Akerman, a lawyer at Dorsey & Whitney and a former federal prosecutor.

Akerman cautioned that it is not possible to know for certain until seeing all of the evidence.

Trump has rejected findings from the Times report, tweeting that he had paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled to depreciation and tax credits.

Such a prosecution would be deeply controversial, and the Justice Department could decide charging Trump is not in the public interest even if there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Biden has approached that question very carefully, saying he would not interfere with his Justice Department’s judgment.

Biden told National Public Radio in August that pursuing criminal charges against his predecessor would be “a very, very unusual thing and probably not very – how can I say it? – good for democracy.”

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'America Votes 2020: Trump supporters weigh in on Biden presidency potential'
America Votes 2020: Trump supporters weigh in on Biden presidency potential

A lawyer for Trump did not return requests for comment.

New York civil fraud investigation

New York’s Attorney General, Letitia James, has an active tax fraud investigation into Trump and his family company, the Trump Organization.

The inquiry by James, a Democrat, began after Trump’s former lawyer Cohen told Congress the president inflated asset values to save money on loans and insurance and deflated them to reduce real estate taxes.

The Trump Organization has argued the case is politically motivated.

The inquiry is a civil investigation, meaning it could result in financial penalties but not jail time.

Story continues below advertisement

Trump’s son, Eric Trump, an executive vice president for the firm, was deposed in October because of what the attorney general described as his close involvement in one or more transactions being reviewed.

E. Jean Carroll

Click to play video: 'U.S. AG Bill Barr says DOJ intervention in Carroll lawsuit would ‘satisfy requirements’'
U.S. AG Bill Barr says DOJ intervention in Carroll lawsuit would ‘satisfy requirements’

E. Jean Carroll, a former Elle magazine writer, sued Trump for defamation in 2019 after the president denied Carroll’s allegation that he raped her in the 1990s and accused her of lying to drum up sales for a book.

In August, a state judge allowed the case to go forward, meaning Carroll’s lawyers could seek a DNA sample from Trump to match against a dress she said she wore at the New York City department store.

A federal judge in Manhattan rejected a bid by the U.S. Justice Department to substitute the federal government for Trump as defendant in the case. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said that Trump did not make his statements about Carroll in the scope of his employment as president.

Story continues below advertisement

Barbara McQuade, a law professor at the University of Michigan, said she expected Biden’s Justice Department to abandon the effort to shield Trump from the case.

“It would seem unlikely for DOJ to continue to pursue what I see as a frivolous argument in a new administration,” said McQuade, a former federal prosecutor.

Summer Zervos

Trump also faces a lawsuit by Summer Zervos, a 2005 contestant on Trump’s reality television show “The Apprentice,” who says Trump kissed her against her will at a 2007 meeting and later groped her at a hotel.

Click to play video: 'Summer Zervos files defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump'
Summer Zervos files defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump

After Trump called Zervos a liar, she sued him for defamation.

Story continues below advertisement

Trump said he is immune from the lawsuit because he is president.

The case here has been on hold while a New York state appeals court reviewed a March 2019 decision that Trump had to face the case while he is in office. Trump’s immunity argument would no longer apply once he is out of office.

Sponsored content