(WASHINGTON) — Donald Trump announced a third presidential campaign on Tuesday evening in a speech at his Mar-a-Lago resort, setting off the 2024 cycle just days after the midterm elections.
“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” the former president said.
Trump enters the Republican primary as the front-runner, though his sway over the party is being questioned by some others in the GOP after most of his endorsed candidates in marquee races fell short last week.
Beyond any political ramifications, Trump’s candidacy sets in motion various legal considerations, including over the funding around his campaign and his personal battles in court, experts told ABC News.
Here’s how a Trump campaign affects him financially and in the courtroom:
Legal implications for the campaign
Trump’s Tuesday announcement triggers campaign finance laws.
Once the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) assesses that Trump is a political candidate — as determined by an array of factors, including but beyond the official announcement — his campaign operation will be barred from directly cooperating with super PACs like the Trump-affiliated MAGA Inc.
Trump’s team on Tuesday night filed his statement of candidacy with the FEC. His new campaign committee, called Donald J. Trump for President 2024, is set up separately from the existing Save America PAC, or political action committee, and the Make America Great Again PAC but lists the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee as an affiliated committee.
Federal law states that campaigns and super PACs cannot have a direct relationship, though such bodies often work in tandem, including by the super PAC airing supporting ads.
MAGA Inc. will not be able to donate directly to Trump’s campaign, however.
“He will be unable to engage in certain joint activities with the super PAC, and he’s going to have to campaign with a lot more transparency,” said Dan Weiner, the director of elections and government at the Brennan Center. “He’s going to have to start filing reports, which will show what his campaign is spending. It’ll show, for instance, how much his campaign may be spending on his businesses and also will show the money coming in.”
Trump’s leadership PAC, Save America, will still be able to donate to his own campaign — but only in small amounts.
“A leadership PAC can make comparatively small contributions. So the leadership PAC can write his campaign a $5,000 check, which his super PAC can’t, but it’s not supposed to do any more than that,” Weiner said.
Beyond working with the PACs, Trump’s campaign will also be limited in how much money it can receive from each individual donor, rather than the looser rules on his outside groups.
Legal implications for investigations into Trump
Trump’s business dealings and actions after the 2020 election are the subject of several criminal and civil probes. He has said he is being politically persecuted.
His personal business is under criminal and civil investigation over allegations it mischaracterized its value for tax benefits. Former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg pleaded guilty in August to 15 counts, though Trump claims there was no wrongdoing by his namesake organization.
The Justice Department is also probing Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and removal of sensitive documents, including material with classified markings, from the White House to Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
Experts said that while the Justice Department and any other more prosecutors are not obligated to adjust anything about their probes in light of Trump’s candidacy, it adds a political dimension to what authorities have insisted are apolitical cases.
Speculation has bubbled that once Trump launched his campaign, Attorney General Merrick Garland may appoint a special counsel to bolster the perception that his agency’s probes are independent form the White House.
“Historically, the Justice Department has been reluctant to investigate candidates. But we believe they have the same authority to do that as they would in any other circumstance,” said Weiner with the Brennan Center. “And his candidacy is not like other candidacies because he’s a former officeholder and there are a variety of other factors here. I think it makes the politics of investigating him more complicated, but there’s certainly no legal impediment to continuing with any investigation.”
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