'The legal stakes have just skyrocketed' for Trump in New York criminal probes: Former federal prosecutor
Donald Trump, Jr with Donald Trump and Eric Trump (Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com)

Former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade thinks that former President Donald Trump should be very nervous about his legal situation.

Writing in USA Today, McQuade argues that the elevation of the New York Attorney General's probe of the Trump Organization from a civil investigation to a criminal investigation indicates big potential trouble for the twice-impeached one-term former president.

"The legal stakes have just skyrocketed for former President Donald Trump and his business," she argues. "Tuesday's news that the AG is no longer confining its investigation to civil matters is a game changer for Trump and his business."

What should make Trump nervous, McQuade adds, is that the New York AG likely wouldn't have upgraded its probe unless it already had a good deal of evidence of criminality.

"Whereas a civil case in a business matter may penalize mistakes based on negligence, recklessness or sloppiness, a criminal case typically requires proof of a knowing or purposeful intent to defraud," she writes. "In a criminal case, the government must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Announcing that the investigation is criminal in nature suggests that James's office believes they evidence sufficient to meet that higher standard."

McQuade also believes Trump should be sweating the announcement that the New York AG is working with Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's office to investigate his businesses.

"This coordination can be important because it allows the two offices to share information, and also helps them avoid stepping on each other's toes in ways that could compromise their cases," she writes.

Read the whole column here.