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Accusations that the two Presidential candidates are corrupt have been made on both sides.  What have the candidates been accused of, and what are the facts behind the accusations?

President Joe Biden

Accusations against President Biden have largely focused around two key issues: his family’s business dealings in Ukraine and Biden’s private possession of classified documents.

Business Dealings. Congressional Republicans launched an impeachment inquiry into Biden alleging that while he was both Vice President and out of office, he profited illegally from his status through a number of meetings and calls involving himself, his son Hunter Biden, and Hunter’s business associates. Accusations centered around an unverified claim from a confidential FBI informant that the Biden family pushed a Ukrainian oligarch to pay them $10 million a few years ago. After a year involving dozens of witness interviews and many resources, Republicans had yet to produce any evidence proving that Biden was directly involved in—or benefited from—his family’s business activities while he was in office. Recently, the FBI confidential source who provided the allegation was indicted by special counsel David Weiss on obstruction and false statement felony charges—in short, the FBI source whose claims were the basis for the Republican impeachment charge is now being called a liar by the FBI.

Classified Documents. Biden also faced accusations around his retention of classified documents after leaving office. Biden willingly turned over the documents in questions and allowed extensive searches of his residence and personal property.  A special counsel investigation was launched; ultimately, special counsel Robert Hur decided that no criminal charges were warranted, though he also said that Biden had indeed willfully retained and disclosed classified documents as a private citizen.

Sexual Assault.  In the months prior to the 2020 election, a former junior staffer in Biden’s Senate office, Tara Reade, publicly accused Biden of sexually assaulting her while she was a staffer in the early 1990s. Reade says that she didn’t inform other staffers about the assault at the time, years earlier, but filed a harassment complaint and was fired. Reade’s initial complaint and report did not include an accusation of sexual assault, which was only made around the time that he became the presumptive nominee for the Democrats. Biden and the White House have denied the allegations, and no suit or legal charges have been filed. Tara Reade has since moved to Russia.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump has been accused of multiple corrupt and illegal actions, spanning the periods before, during, and after his time in office:

Elections. Trump became the first president in history to face charges of state or federal crimes, and these charges were substantial enough to convince a jury to indict him in four instances:

  • Violating New York state law in handling hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels. The illegality of these felony charges is because it attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election and because business records were falsified.
  • In Florida, retaining classified documents after leaving office and “scheming to conceal” that he had kept them.
  • In Washington, D.C., participating in a scheme to interfere with the peaceful transition of power by spreading lies about the 2020 election result which led to the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
  • In Georgia, of coordinating efforts to subvert and thwart the correct and lawful certification of the state’s 2020 election. Overall, Trump faces 91 felony counts in these indictments.

Business Dealings. Trump faced three fraud civil lawsuits from enrollees in Trump University, who alleged that the program pressured people into purchasing increasingly expensive programs while not actually teaching the real estate and business skills it advertised. Trump’s organization settled the suits in 2018 in exchange for $25 million in payouts to the plaintiffs, and no admission of wrongdoing by the University.

 In addition, Trump was sued by the New York Attorney General in a civil suit alleging he fraudulently valued properties to either lower his tax bills or get better terms on loans. In February of 2024, the judge ruled that Trump must pay more than $355 million—plus interest—after finding that he lied about his wealth for years on financial statements used to acquire loans and secure deals as he built his real estate business.

Over the course of his business career prior to his term as president, Trump was sued 60 times by people who claimed that he and his business did not pay them for work they did for him.

Classified Documents. Trump’s classified documents case differs from Biden’s because he allegedly obstructed justice after being given chances to return classified documents. According to the indictment, he refused to return the documents and obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy evidence and then to lie about it. He allegedly improperly stored sensitive documents on nuclear capabilities, repeatedly enlisted aides and lawyers to help him hide records demanded by investigators, and showed off a Pentagon “plan of attack” and classified map, potentially jeopardizing not only relations with foreign nations but also the safety of troops and confidential sources.

Sexual Assault. In May of 2023, a civil jury in New York found that Trump was guilty of sexually abusing writer E. Jean Carroll in 1996. The jury’s split verdict rejected Carroll’s claim that she was raped and ruled on the lesser degree charge of sexual abuse. They also found that Trump was liable for defaming Carroll about her allegations and awarded her $5 million. Beyond that, at least 26 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct since the 1970s. He also notoriously said in an Access Hollywood recording released in 2016: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything . . . Grab ‘em by the *****…you can do anything.”

Political Corruption. In his term as president, Trump also faced impeachment inquiries, not once, but twice: first in 2019 on charges that he threatened to withhold military aid for Ukraine unless they helped him politically by investigating a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election, and then in 2021 with charges of inciting insurrection from the mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6th. In both cases, the House voted to impeach him, but the Senate did not vote for conviction.

This assessment of accusations made, and their outcomes, shows that the accusations are not evenly shared. In terms of evidence behind accusations, Trump is the only one to face criminal and civil charges. He has already been found guilty in some of these legal actions and faces several additional trials in the near future. While he continues to say that these charges are personal attacks on him, it should be noted that juries of average citizens have concluded that the evidence against him is sufficient to warrant trials, and have found him guilty in several instances. All trials are based on evidence of wrong doing that has or will be heard in court.

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