Trump legal news brief: Trump dodges one 14th Amendment challenge to keep him off ballot as another begins

Yahoo News' succinct daily update on the criminal and civil cases against the 45th president of the United States.

Photo Illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Alex Wong/Getty Images, Curtis Means/AFP via Getty Images, Getty Images (4).
Photo Illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Alex Wong/Getty Images, Curtis Means/AFP via Getty Images, Getty Images (4).

The Minnesota Supreme Court dismisses a lawsuit seeking to keep former President Donald Trump’s name from appearing on the state’s Republican primary ballot, but leaves open the possibility for a general election challenge. In Michigan, arguments begin in another 14th Amendment lawsuit looking to bar Trump’s name from ballots.

Jan. 6 election interference

Minnesota Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit to keep Trump off primary ballot

Key players: Minn. Supreme Court Chief Justice Natalie Hudson, nonprofit group Free Speech for People

  • On Wednesday, the court dismissed a lawsuit seeking to keep Trump’s name from appearing on Republican primary ballots in Minnesota, Fox News reported.

  • “There is no state statute that prohibits a major political party from placing on the presidential nomination primary ballot, or sending delegates to the national convention supporting, a candidate who is ineligible to hold office,” Hudson wrote in the opinion.

  • Free Speech for People had filed the lawsuit citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a Civil War-era addition that blocks those who have “engaged in insurrection” from holding office.

  • “Ridiculous 14th Amendment lawsuit just thrown out by Minnesota Supreme Court.” Trump said in a post to his social media network following the ruling. “Congratulations to all who fought this HOAX!”

  • But without weighing in on the merits of the 14th Amendment argument, Hudson also made clear that while the court wouldn’t intervene in the primary, the plaintiffs are free to pursue a challenge to keep Trump’s name off of general election ballots.

Why it matters: Multiple state legal challenges have been brought forward to keep Trump from ballots due to his participation in the efforts to block the certification of the 2020 presidential election. Ultimately, the issue is likely to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Arguments underway in Michigan lawsuits that seek to bar Trump from ballots

Key players: Judge Robert Redford, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Michigan voter Robert Davis, nonprofit group Free Speech for People, special counsel Jack Smith

  • Oral arguments began Thursday in two Michigan lawsuits that seek to bar Trump’s name from appearing on primary and general election ballots in the state, ABC News reported.

  • Citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the lawsuits brought by Davis and Free Speech for People on behalf of Michigan voters argue that Trump should be disqualified from running again, and that his name should not appear on primary or general election ballots.

  • Trump’s lawyers have stated that they will argue that Davis and Free Speech for People “have no evidence that President Trump intended or supported any violent or unlawful activity seeking to overthrow the government of the United States, either on January 6th or at any other time.”

  • Trump has also filed a lawsuit alleging that Benson lacks the authority to keep the former president’s name from appearing on ballots.

  • Redford will decide all three cases.

Why it matters: The petitioners argue Trump violated his oath of office to protect the Constitution when he encouraged his followers to head to the Capitol in an effort to block the certification of the Electoral College vote. That claim is also at the center of Smith’s federal case against Trump.

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Wednesday, Nov. 8


Photo Illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images, Getty Images (3).
Photo Illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images, Getty Images (3).

New York prosecutors confront Ivanka Trump with emails and documents they said show she worried that her father was not wealthy enough to meet loan requirements that would lock in low rates. Meanwhile, the judge in the federal election interference case against former President Donald Trump hands his lawyers a partial victory.

New York financial fraud

Prosecutors present Ivanka Trump with emails about father’s net worth

Key players: Former Trump Org. executive vice president Ivanka Trump, Judge Arthur Engoron, Trump lawyer Christopher Kise, Trump Org. CFO Allen Weisselberg, New York Attorney General Letitia James, state lawyer Louis Solomon

  • The final witness for James’s case, Ivanka Trump was shown emails in court Wednesday by Louis Solomon that the state says showed her concern that her father was not wealthy enough to meet the terms for a loan by Deutsche Bank, Reuters reported.

  • “We wanted to get a great rate and the only way to get proceeds/term and principal where we want them is to guarantee the deal,” she wrote to a Trump Organization lawyer in a 2011 email.

  • Ms. Trump repeatedly testified that she did not recall specific details about deals she handled while working for the company, the BBC reported.

  • “There were many emails, many conversations,” she said at one point.

  • Her responses prompted exasperation from Solomon.

  • “She just spent three minutes describing the Plaza Hotel,” Solomon shouted, “but she has no recollection when I ask her a question.”

  • On the subject of the preparation of her father’s financial statements, which James alleges were used to defraud banks and insurers, Ms. Trump testified she had no direct involvement.

  • “I wasn’t involved in his statement of financial condition,” she said. “That would have been the company.”

  • Kise complained that Ms. Trump, who is not a defendant in the case, had been “dragged” in to testify from Florida, while she sought to establish in her testimony under cross-examination that banks like Deutsche Bank were happy to have her family as clients.

Why it matters: The extent of the damages that the defendants will have to pay after Engoron found them liable for years of fraudulent business practices will depend on the evidence presented by James’s team and how the judge ultimately views testimony given by members of the Trump family over the past week.

Jan. 6 election interference

Judge grants Trump’s defense slight delay

Key players: Judge Tanya Chutkan, special counsel Jack Smith

  • Chutkan issued a four-page opinion Tuesday granting Trump’s lawyers a slight extension on the deadline to file motions for subpoenas and to compel prosecutors to produce evidence, the Daily Beast reported.

  • Prior to her order, Trump’s lawyers had until Nov. 9 to file those motions. Instead, they now have until Nov. 27 to file motions for subpoenas and until Dec. 13 to ask prosecutors to produce their evidence. Smith’s team had argued that delaying the deadlines was unnecessary.

  • Having already lost their bid to have the trial pushed until after the 2024 presidential election, Trump’s lawyers had asked Chutkan to delay the deadlines by months.

  • Chutkan has scheduled the trial to begin on March 4, and said in her ruling that there was no reason that the short delay should impact the start date of the trial.

Why it matters: Trump has filed numerous motions to either delay the start of the case, have it dismissed altogether or have the judge recuse herself. While Chutkan has issued minor delays in the proceedings, she has so far been committed to remaining in charge and making sure that the trial begins on schedule.

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Tuesday, Nov. 7


Ivanka Trump
Ivanka Trump. (House Select Committee via AP)

By Crystal Hill

Ivanka Trump, the eldest daughter of former President Donald Trump, is expected to take the stand Wednesday in the $250 million financial fraud lawsuit that will decide the penalties Trump, his two eldest sons and their family business must pay after being found liable for years of overinflating the value of their assets. Federal prosecutors in Washington, meanwhile, refute Donald Trump’s bid to get the 2020 election interference case against him tossed.

New York financial fraud

Ivanka Trump set to testify Wednesday in New York financial fraud trial

Key players: Former Trump Organization executive vice president Ivanka Trump, Judge Arthur Engoron, Trump Org. executive vice presidents Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, New York Attorney General Letitia James

  • After losing her appeal to postpone testifying in the financial fraud case underway in New York, Ivanka Trump is expected to take the stand on Wednesday.

  • Her testimony comes after her father and two eldest brothers all took the witness stand in the case and denied wrongdoing.

  • Initially, Ivanka Trump was a defendant in the case brought last year by James, but an appeals court dismissed the claims against her because they fell outside the statute of limitations.

  • “The allegations against defendant Ivanka Trump do not support any claims that accrued after [Feb.] 6, 2016,” the decision said. “Thus, all claims against her should have been dismissed as untimely.”

  • Since then, she has unsuccessfully tried to avoid testifying.

Why it matters: Trump and his eldest sons were subject to intense questioning from the state over their knowledge of and involvement in the preparation of financial statements that did not accurately reflect their assets. Ivanka Trump, who will also testify under oath, will likely face similar scrutiny. The penalties Engoron could impose in the case could threaten the future of the family's business empire in New York.

Jan. 6 election interference

Jack Smith urges judge to deny Trump motion to dismiss in election interference case

Key players: Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, Judge Tanya Chutkan, Trump lawyers John Lauro and Todd Blanche

  • In a lengthy motion filed Monday, Smith challenged Trump’s October bid — filed by his lawyers Lauro and Blanche — to dismiss the charges against him, CNN reported.

  • Smith sought to rebuff Trump’s claims that his alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election were political advocacy, borne out of genuine concern that the election had been stolen from him. Trump also claimed that his speech — specifically his false, widespread claims about election fraud that he allegedly used to pressure state and federal officials — is protected by the First Amendment.

  • Smith’s motion says Trump is trying to “rewrite the indictment, claiming that it charges him with wholly innocuous, perhaps even admirable conduct — sharing his opinions about election fraud and seeking election integrity — when in fact it clearly describes the defendant’s fraudulent use of knowingly false statements as weapons in furtherance of his criminal plans.”

Why it matters: Chutkan has yet to rule, but many legal experts have said that Trump’s First Amendment argument doesn't hold water. Trump’s bid to get the case thrown out is his latest attempt to convince a judge to dismiss criminal charges against him. The former president is facing 91 felony charges in four cases in Washington, Florida, New York and Georgia.

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Monday, Nov. 6


Former President Donald Trump takes the witness stand in the $250 million financial fraud lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James that will decide the penalties Trump, his two eldest sons and their family business must pay after being found liable for years of overinflating the value of their assets.

New York financial fraud

Trump takes the stand

Key players: Former President Donald Trump, Judge Arthur Engoron, Trump Org. executive vice presidents Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, Trump Org. CFO Allen Weisselberg, New York Attorney General Letitia James, Trump lawyers Christopher Kise and Alina Habba, N.Y. AG lawyer Kevin Wallace

Live updates:

  • After being sworn in, Trump testifies that he doesn't think any real estate developer ever lowballed the value of his assets more than he has, USA Today reported. Engoron quickly issues a rebuke, telling Trump not to editorialize: “Mr. Kise, can you control your client? This is not a political rally, this is a courtroom,” Engoron says.

  • In another clash with Trump, Engoron vents: “In addition to the answers being nonresponsive, they're repetitive,” the Associated Press reported.

  • While Trump downplayed his own involvement in the preparation of financial statements James says were riddled with falsehoods, he did concede he had some role. “I would look at them, I would see them, and maybe on some occasions, I would have some suggestions,” he testified.

Why it matters: Engoron has already found the defendants liable for financial fraud, and the penalties he may impose based on Trump's testimony could threaten the future of the family's business empire in New York.

Former President Donald Trump in a courtroom sketch from the Trump Organization civil fraud trial
Former President Donald Trump as he is questioned by Kevin Wallace of the New York Attorney General's Office in a courtroom sketch from the Trump Organization civil fraud trial Nov. 6. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters) (JANE ROSENBERG / reuters)
  • Engoron warns Kise that if he is unable to keep Trump on topic, he will excuse him from the stand and draw negative inferences.

  • Trump uses these clashes to attack the judge. “This is a very unfair trial. I hope the public is watching,” he says at one point.

  • Wallace asks Trump if he thinks Mar-a-Lago is worth $1.5 billion. “I think between a billion and a billion-five,” Trump says of his private club and residence in Florida.

  • At issue is whether Trump knowingly inflated the value of Mar-a-Lago, which, as a private club, could not fetch such a high price.

  • Pressed by Wallace on the wording on the Mar-a-Lago deed that states “the Club and Trump intend to forever extinguish their right to develop or use the Property for any purpose other than club use,” Trump responds, “'Intend' doesn't mean we will do it.”

  • Wallace presses Trump on the overvaluation of his Manhattan penthouse apartment in Trump Tower, the square footage of which was listed on Trump financial forms at triple the actual size. Trump concedes: “The number was too high. They lowered it after that.”

  • But Trump then adds of the corrected filing, “They took 10,000 feet per floor, and they went times three. But they didn't take out elevator shafts and different things.”

  • That comment drew a bemused response from Chase Peterson-Withorn, the Forbes reporter who interviewed Trump about his penthouse.

  • On the magazine that broke the story Trump had overstated the size of his penthouse apartment, Trump quips, “I have very little respect for Forbes.”

Why it matters: Trump acknowledged that the values of his properties had not been accurately portrayed on financial forms. His testimony was also marked by attacks on Engoron and for disregarding his instructions. Engoron will ultimately decide the penalties in the case.

  • During a lunch break Habba held a news conference where she sharply criticized Engoron, saying, "I was told to sit down today. I was yelled at, and I’ve had a judge who is unhinged slamming a table." She also went after James.

  • James returned fire in a post to X.

  • After more testimony about the terms of loan agreements with Deutsche Bank, and more Trump attacks on James and Engoron, Trump's time on the witness stand comes to an end. His own lawyers will not be cross-examining him.

  • At the conclusion of Trump's testimony, Habba tells Engoron that the defense will file a motion for a mistrial.

Why it matters: Trump's strategy in his testimony seemed to be to direct attention to what he contends is a political case against him. He repeatedly went after the judge, who will decide what damages the defendants must pay. But after Monday's testimony, Trump's lawyers' announcement that they will seek a mistrial means that they are not content to wait for Engoron's ultimate ruling before seeking relief.