But with the polls showing that Democratic rival Joe Biden is leading in the race, the stakes become much higher for Trump if he loses the election. A raft of legal issues, including a criminal investigation by New York prosecutors, will come into focus in the weeks after Election Day.
“In every regard, his leaving office makes it easier for prosecutors and plaintiffs in civil cases to pursue their cases against him,” said Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor in the Manhattan US attorney’s office. “For example, he is claiming a higher protection from subpoenas in the criminal cases and also in the congressional subpoena cases, [and that] is based largely on the fact that he is President.”
Some have suggested a formal apparatus for investigating Trump after he leaves office. Rep. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, has floated the creation of a “Presidential Crimes Commission,” made up of independent prosecutors who can examine “those who enabled a corrupt president,” as he put it in an August tweet. “Example 1: Sabotaging the mail to win an election.”
In the course of that probe, Trump has challenged a subpoena to his accounting firm for eight years of tax returns and financial records. Five courts have ruled the subpoena is valid, and last week Trump faced the latest setback when a federal appellate court denied his appeal, ruling that the grand jury subpoena was not overly broad or issued in bad faith. On Tuesday, Trump’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to block the enforcement of the subpoena to allow it time to appeal to the court. Trump already lost an appeal to the highest court in July, when it ruled that the president is not immune from a state grand jury subpoena.
New York prosecutors have said the tax records, working papers and documentation around business transactions are crucial to their investigation, which has been underway for more than a year.
There are legal questions as to whether a state prosecutor could file charges against a sitting president.
“He’s so powerful right now. They know that they can’t indict him right now so there is an incentive to build their case and get ready. I think what happens if he loses and leaves office that things will move very quickly,” said Jennifer Rodgers, a CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor.
Playing fast and loose with value of company assets
The New York attorney general is also proceeding with a separate civil investigation into the Trump Organization and whether it improperly inflated the value of certain assets in some instances and lowered them in others, in an effort to secure loans and obtain economic and tax benefits.
Investigators are looking into the tax breaks taken at the Trump Seven Springs property in Bedford, New York, and the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles….