What are Donald Trump’s latest legal challenges? Special counsel, new lawsuit for alleged sexual assault and more

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WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump’s legal challenges have not had a holiday this past week.

Here is a summary of the most important developments since last Friday:

Looking ahead, the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol is expected to release its final report in December.

45th President Donald J. Trump speaks at his media event at Mar-a-Lago ballroom in Palm Beach, Florida, on Nov. 15, 2022.

Here’s what we know about Trump’s legal challenges:

Jack Smith, who was a prosecutor for many years, was appointed special counsel to investigate Trump

Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith, a longtime prosecutor, as special counsel on Nov. 18. The move is intended to provide an independent look at the investigation into Trump, who declared three days earlier that he would run for president again.

Smith is a former head of the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section and has served as a war crimes prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.

Trump has dismissed the investigation as biased and unwarranted. Some Republicans criticized Smith as overzealous, including former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Rep. Jim Jordan from Ohio. Trump’s political action committee promoted their comments.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland appoints a 'special counsel' for Trump's criminal investigation

US Attorney General Merrick Garland appoints a ‘special counsel’ for Trump’s criminal investigation

But Garland said the move was justified.

“I am confident that the normal processes of this department can handle all investigations with integrity,” said Garland. “And I also believe that appointing special counsel is the right thing to do at this time. The extraordinary circumstances presented here require that.”

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House panel wins access to Trump tax returns

The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a request from Trump to block the release of six years of his tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, which regulates tax policy.

Democrats sought copies of his Treasury Department returns in 2019 after Trump broke tradition by refusing to release them as a candidate in 2016. Democrats questioned whether his administration’s policies might have benefited Trump financially.

Representative Richard Neal, D-Mass.

Representative Richard Neal, D-Mass.

Republicans complained that there was no legislative goal to seek the proceeds. But Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., the committee’s chairman, said the case confirmed the principle of congressional oversight of the executive branch.

“Since Magna Carta, the principle of surveillance has been enforced, and today is no different,” said Neal. “This is beyond politics and the committee will now provide the oversight we have sought for the past three and a half years.”

E. Jean Carroll files suit against Trump

E. Jean Carroll, who was already suing Trump for defamation, filed another federal lawsuit Thursday accusing him of battery and libel for allegedly raping her at a Bergdorf Goodman store about 27 years ago.

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Carroll filed the latest case under a New York state law called the Adult Survivors Act, which opened a year for sexual assault survivors to sue their alleged abusers, regardless of how long ago the assault happened.

Trump issued a statement in June 2019 denying the incident and accusing Carroll of publicizing the matter in order to sell copies of her memoir.

E. Jean Carroll leaves Daniel Patrick Moynihan's courthouse in the United States after a hearing in her defamation lawsuit against Trump on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 in New York.

E. Jean Carroll leaves Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s courthouse in the United States after a hearing in her defamation lawsuit against Trump, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 in New York.

Trump was questioned under oath in October in the defamation case after his lawyers tried to block or delay the statement.

“This case is nothing more than a political ploy like many others,” his lawyer Alina Habba told Trump at the time.

Criminal trial for two Trump companies

The tax fraud trial is nearing completion against two Trump companies accused of providing corporate-paid perks to top executives that could then evade taxes.

Allen Weisselberg, the company’s former chief financial officer who pleaded guilty to taking $1.7 million in off-the-books compensation, testified that the former president’s son, Eric Trump, had his salary cut by $200,000. increased after an internal audit following Trump’s election in 2016 found that he had reduced his salary and bonuses by the cost of the perks.

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The increases pushed Weisselberg’s annual salary to $1.14 million, extra money he says he used for things Trump and the company previously covered: Manhattan apartment rentals, Mercedes-Benz cars for him and his wife and school fees for his grandchildren.

Trump is not charged in the criminal case and has not been in court for the trial.

Former CFO Allen Weisselberg leaves the courtroom for a lunch break during a New York Supreme Court trial on November 17, 2022 in New York City.

Former CFO Allen Weisselberg leaves the courtroom for a lunch break during a New York Supreme Court trial on November 17, 2022 in New York City.

The tax fraud case is so far the only lawsuit resulting from the Manhattan district attorney’s three-year investigation into Trump and his business practices. If convicted, the companies could be fined more than $1 million and find it difficult to close deals.

Lawyers debate the need for a special master to review Mar-a-Lago documents

Lawyers for Trump and the Justice Department sparred Tuesday over the special master assigned to review 11,000 documents seized at Mar-a-Lago.

FBI agents seized the data as part of a criminal investigation into evidence of violations of the Espionage Act or obstruction of justice. The special master, U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, helps determine whether the documents should be blocked for investigation if they contain personal information or if they fall under attorney-client or executive privilege.

But the Justice Department claims the review was unnecessary. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit is considering whether to overturn U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s order to authorize the special master.

At Tuesday’s hearing, judges questioned Trump’s challenge to the Mar-a-Lago search, saying it’s time to prevent them from being used to lay the groundwork for potential criminal charges against him, after the charge has been filed.

Contributors: Kevin McCoy, John Fritze, Kevin Johnson, The US Express News

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump’s legal challenges: Special counsel, E. Jean Carroll sues

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