Updated: The Trump indictments: a seven-year timeline of key developments
Former President Donald Trump is a defendant in four criminal proceedings.
Two cases are federal, brought after investigations by Special Counsel Jack Smith. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg brought the first indictment against Trump, charging him in New York state court. The most recent prosecution, in Georgia state court, is being led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
The indictments lay out the alleged crimes by Trump, the first person who has served as president of the United States to face felony charges. In months to come, the legal proceedings in courts from New York to Florida to D.C. will demand Trump’s time and attention as he wages his campaign for the 2024 GOP nomination for president.
To help readers keep track, States Newsroom has put together a timeline showing the accusations and legal battles that have swirled around the ex-president, from Trump’s first presidential campaign in 2016 until today.
There are four separate indictments:
- Hush money payments, New York state court: Trump is accused of breaking state law against falsifying business records by reporting hush money payments as legal expenses.
According to Bragg’s prosecution, Trump’s attorney and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, paid adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to stay silent about an alleged affair between her and Trump. Trump then repaid Cohen through his business, but recorded the transactions as legitimate legal expenses.
- Classified documents, U.S. District Court in Fort Pierce, Florida: Trump is accused of taking classified materials from the White House when he left office, improperly storing them in his South Florida estate and refusing to return them to official record keepers with the National Archives and Records Administration.
- Election interference, U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.: Trump is accused of seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The alleged conspiracy involved using slates of fraudulent electors in seven states, and it culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
- Election interference, Georgia state court: Trump is charged with racketeering and accused of leading a criminal organization to subvert the 2020 election in Georgia and other states. The indictment alleges lies Trump and dozens of co-conspirators — 18 of whom are named defendants — told to state lawmakers and officials about supposed foul play in the election amounted to fraud.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, pleading not guilty to all the criminal charges he’s been arraigned on. He has also denied having an affair with Daniels.
June 2015-November 2016: Trump’s first presidential campaign.
Oct. 7, 2016: The “Access Hollywood” tape is published showing Trump, years before, bragging about sexually assaulting women. The negative publicity is part of what prompts the Trump campaign to try to limit other unfavorable attention about Trump’s relationships with women, including alleged affairs, according to the New York state court indictment.
Oct. 26, 2016: Cohen wires $130,000 to an attorney for Daniels. In return for that payment, Daniels was to remain silent about an alleged sexual relationship she and Trump had while Trump was married, according to the indictment.
Nov. 8, 2016: Election Day. Trump is elected the 45th president of the United States.
Throughout 2017: Trump makes monthly payments to Cohen to reimburse him for the payment to Daniels, according to the New York indictment. The payments are recorded as legal expenses, according to the indictment.
Nov. 3, 2020: Election Day. Trump appears likely to lose reelection to Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden, but several states remain uncalled for days. Trump claims victory and calls the ongoing legitimate vote counting “a fraud on the American public.”
Nov. 7, 2020: News outlets project Biden wins Pennsylvania, reaching the threshold to win the presidential election.
Biden ultimately wins fives states Trump had secured in the previous election: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Those states, along with Nevada and New Mexico, would become the focus of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election by recruiting fraudulent slates of electors, according to the federal election indictment.
November 2020-January 2021: Trump and a group of at least six co-conspirators conceive and attempt a plan to reverse his election loss, according to the federal election interference indictment of Trump.
Nov. 20, 2020: Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows meet in the Oval Office with Republican members of the Michigan Legislature, including Senate Majority Leader Michael Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield. Trump made false statements about election fraud during that meeting, according to the Georgia indictment.
Nov. 22, 2020: Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani call Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and make allegedly false claims about fraud in the election in that state. They pressure Bowers to hold a hearing on election fraud and to use the Legislature to appoint a false slate of presidential electors. Bowers declines.
The call was described in the federal and Georgia election indictments, and in Bowers’ testimony to the U.S. House Jan. 6 Committee.
Dec. 3, 2020: Trump meets in the Oval Office with Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler to discuss holding a special session of the General Assembly, according to the Georgia indictment.
Giuliani, Trump attorneys John Eastman, Jenna Ellis and Ray Stallings Smith III make false statements about election fraud at a meeting of a Georgia Senate Judiciary subcommittee, according to the Georgia indictment.
Dec. 7, 2020: Trump asks Georgia House Speaker David Ralston to call a special session for the purposes of appointing a slate of false electors, according to the Georgia indictment.
Dec. 10, 2020: Giuliani makes false statements about election fraud to the Georgia House Governmental Affairs Committee, according to the Georgia indictment.
Dec. 14, 2020: State electors certify their votes. Slates of false electors in seven states Trump lost attempt to fraudulently certify votes for Trump.
Dec. 25, 2020: Trump calls Bowers to again ask him to appoint fraudulent presidential electors, according to the Georgia indictment.
Dec. 31, 2020: Ellis writes a memo outlining how the certification of electoral votes could be disrupted on Jan. 6, 2021, if Vice President Mike Pence would refuse to open envelopes from six states, including Georgia, according to the Fulton County indictment.
Trump and Eastman file a lawsuit against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, requesting an emergency injunction to decertify the state’s election results. The complaint contains several false statements about election fraud in the state, breaking a state law against filing false documents, according to the Georgia indictment.
December 2020: Trump and Meadows meet with senior campaign advisor John McEntee and ask him to prepare a strategy memo “for disrupting and delaying the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021,” when the election results would be certified, according to the Georgia indictment. The indictment does not specify the exact date of this meeting.
Jan. 2, 2021: Trump calls Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, attempting to have Raffensperger alter the state’s vote count. Trump asks Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to swing the state to him.
During the call, Trump says Georgia elections worker Ruby Freeman is “a professional vote scammer” and says she is responsible for adding 18,000 votes for Biden from Atlanta’s State Farm Arena. Trump never produces evidence to back up this claim, and there is no indication Freeman did anything wrong. She and her daughter later testify to the U.S. House Jan. 6 Committee about harassment they endured from Trump supporters.
Jan. 3, 2021: Trump meets in the Oval Office with U.S. Justice Department leadership and Jeffrey Clark, then the acting head of the DOJ Civil Division, who had drafted a letter to states implying that federal investigations into election fraud were ongoing.
Trump considered firing the top two DOJ officials, who disapproved of the plan and encouraged Trump to accept the election results, and appointing Clark to lead DOJ. He ultimately declined to elevate Clark. Details of the meeting were described in one of the U.S. House hearings on the Jan. 6 attack and in the federal election indictment.
Jan. 4, 2021: Trump and Eastman meet in the Oval Office with Pence and his chief of staff, Greg Jacob. Trump and Eastman urge Pence to either reject electoral votes from certain states or to delay the certification on Jan. 6. Eastman concedes both would violate the federal Electoral Count Act, according to the Georgia indictment.
Jan. 5, 2021: Trump meets with Pence and phones him twice to urge the vice president to reject legitimate slates of electors, according to the Georgia indictment. When Pence declines, Trump implies the vice president lacks courage.
Jan. 6, 2021: Trump holds a rally on the White House Ellipse in which he tells supporters to “fight like hell” and implies Vice President Mike Pence could reverse the election result as he certified the state electors, a formality to finalize the 2020 presidential election results.
A large group of Trump supporters violently storm the U.S. Capitol after Trump’s speech to disrupt the certification. Five people died that day or shortly after. Four Capitol Police officers on the scene died by suicide later that year.
According to the prosecutors, the riot is the last step in a multipart plan by Trump to overturn the election results.
Jan. 7, 2021: Congress eventually certifies Biden’s victory at 3:24 a.m.
Jan. 20, 2021: Biden is inaugurated the 46th president of the United States.
Trump leaves the White House for Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. He takes hundreds of classified documents with him, according to a federal grand jury in Florida.
June 9, 2021: The U.S. House votes to form the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6, 2021 Attack on the U.S. Capitol.
July 2021: Trump shows “highly confidential” materials to a writer, publisher and two staff members who lacked security clearance to view the materials, according to the federal indictment.
August or September 2021: Trump shows a classified map of a military operation to a political aide who lacked security clearance, according to the indictment.
Sept. 17, 2021: Trump again asks Raffensperger to decertify the 2020 election results in Georgia, according to the Georgia indictment.
Jan. 17, 2022: Trump responds to months of demands from the National Archives and Records Administration to provide missing presidential records by sending 15 boxes of documents containing 197 documents with classification markings, according to the indictment in the documents case.
March 30, 2022: The FBI opens a criminal investigation into unlawful retention of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
June 3, 2022: In response to a grand jury subpoena, Trump provides 38 more documents with classification markings.
Aug. 8, 2022: The FBI searches Mar-a-Lago and recovers 108 more classified documents.
Nov. 15, 2022: Trump announces he is a candidate for president in 2024.
Nov. 18, 2022: Attorney General Merrick Garland appoints former federal and international prosecutor Jack Smith to be special counsel overseeing federal investigations into Trump. With Trump a candidate and Biden likely to seek reelection, the move is meant to insulate the investigation from the perception that the Biden administration is targeting a political rival.
April 4, 2023: Trump appears in state court in Manhattan and pleads not guilty.
June 8, 2023: A federal grand jury in Florida indicts Trump on 37 charges in the documents case. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee. The indictment is issued under seal and is unsealed the following day.
June 13, 2023: Trump appears in federal court in Miami and pleads not guilty in the documents case.
July 19, 2023: A New York judge denies Trump’s request to move the hush money case to federal court.
July 27, 2023: A superseding indictment adds three charges in the classified documents case, alleging Trump and co-conspirators sought to delete potentially incriminating security footage.
Aug. 1, 2023: A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., indicts Trump on four counts related to his efforts to undermine the 2020 presidential election. The case is assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Sue Chutkan, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.
Aug. 3, 2023: Trump appears in federal court in Washington, D.C., and pleads not guilty to charges in the election case, appearing before Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya .
Aug. 4, 2023: Trump pleads not guilty to the new charges in the documents case.
Aug. 25, 2023: Willis’ deadline for Trump and the other defendants in the Georgia case to turn themselves in.
Jan. 15, 2024: The Iowa caucuses are the first nominating contest in the Republican presidential primary.
March 5, 2024: “Super Tuesday” in the presidential nomination contest. With 14 states holding primaries or caucuses, it’s the date with the most delegates at stake, often solidifying the race’s front-runner.
March 25, 2024: Trial in the New York state case scheduled to begin. Subject to change.
May 14, 2024: Trial in the classified documents case scheduled to begin. Subject to change.