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A week of legal setbacks for Trump in Washington, New York

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump faced one legal setback after another this week as a judge ruled he must sit for a deposition in New York to answer questions about his business practices, his accounting firm declared his financial statements unreliable, another
judge rejected his efforts to dismiss conspiracy lawsuits and the National Archives confirmed
that he took classified information to Florida as he left White House.

Whatever happens, said Jeffrey Jacobovitz, a Washington lawyer who has been following the investigations, “I think the weeks will get worse for him.”

Here’s a look at the flurry of developments: In a Friday letter, the

National Archives and Records Administration confirmed that classified information was found in 15 boxes of White House records that Trump had brought with him to Mar-a-Lago and turned over last month.

The National Archives “identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes” and “has been in communication with the Department of Justice,” they wrote in a letter House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The Archives also confirmed it had received paper records
that had been torn up
by Trump — some taped together and others left in pieces — and that some White House staff had conducted official business using personal accounts.

While federal law bars the removal of classified documents to unauthorized locations, sitting presidents have broad authority
over classification. The Justice Department and FBI have not indicated
they will pursue a case.

But David Laufman,
the former head of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence
section who oversaw the investigation into Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server as secretary of state, tweeted, “It’s hard to imagine that DOJ is not conducting a criminal investigation into Trump’s stash of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.”

“Even if DOJ ultimately forgoes criminal charges, an investigation is clearly warranted,” he said.

While the Presidential Records Act that oversees the preservation of a president’s documents is widely seen to have little enforcement mechanism, David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor,
said: “Taking classified documents is an entirely different ball of wax. And as we’ve seen in the past, those are what result in actual charges being filed.”

No matter the legal
risk, the revelation also exposes Trump to charges of hypocrisy given his relentless attacks on Clinton, his Democratic opponent in the 2016 presidential campaign.

In a statement Friday night, Trump said, “The National Archives did not ‘find’ anything, they were given, upon request, Presidential Records in an ordinary and routine process.”

“If this was anyone but ‘Trump,’ there would be no story here,” he said.

• A federal judge in Washington, D.C., on Friday rejected Trump’s efforts to dismiss conspiracy lawsuits filed
by Democratic lawmakers and police officers accusing him of being personally liable for the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.

U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta said Trump’s words at a rally held before the attack were likely “words of incitement not protected by the First Amendment” and “plausibly” may have led to what happened.

Trump had told his supporters to “Fight like hell” and warned that,
if they didn’t, “you’re

not going to have a country anymore.”

“Only in the
most extraordinary circumstances could a court not recognize that the First Amendment protects
a President’s speech,” Mehta wrote. “But the court believes this is that case.”

The plaintiffs are seeking financial damages for the physical and emotional injuries they sustained during the insurrection, which Trump has denied inciting.

• On Thursday, a judge in New York ruled that Trump must answer questions under oath in the state’s civil investigation into

his business practices. Judge Arthur Engoron

ordered Trump and his two eldest children,

Ivanka and Donald
Trump Jr., to comply
with subpoenas issued
by New York Attorney General Letitia James
and sit for depositions within 21 days. James’s lawyers have said they have uncovered evidence that Trump’s company used “fraudulent or misleading” valuations of his golf courses, skyscrapers and other properties to secure loans and tax benefits.

Trump’s lawyers had argued his testimony could be used against him in the criminal investigation into the Trump Organization and its former CFO that’s being overseen by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

The ruling is almost certain to be appealed by Trump’s lawyers. But if upheld, it could force him to decide whether to answer questions, potentially risking perjuring himself if he lies, or stay silent, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination — something he’s criticized others for doing in the past.

“THERE IS NO CASE!” Trump said in a statement responding to the ruling.

While many legal experts agree the case poses a serious risk to Trump, lawyers who have examined the allegations have said

it is not a slam dunk for James and she will face two major hurdles if she brings a suit alleging fraud: proving both an intent to deceive and proving that banks that loaned Trump money were actually fooled.

FILE President Donald Trump holds up papers as he speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on April 20, 2020, in Washington. President Joe Biden is ordering the release of Trump White House visitor logs to the House committee investigating the riot of Jan. 6, 2021, once more rejecting former President Donald Trump’s claims of executive privilege. The committee has sought a trove of data from the National Archives, including presidential records that Trump had fought to keep private.

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