Fraud Allegations and Financial Fiascos: The Saga of Trump’s Legal Battles

How do you spell “persecution?” How about “D-o-n-a-l-d T-r-u-m-p?” It sometimes seems that the entire judicial apparatus of the state has been mobilized against the man.

According to my abacus, he faces some 90 counts on four separate indictments in four states. And that doesn’t count the suits brought by the aging fantasist who claims that 30, 35 years ago—she can’t quite remember—Trump assaulted her in a dressing room in the swank department store Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan.  There were no witnesses. She can’t say what year the assault was supposed to have occurred, let alone what month or day.  Moreover, the entire scenario was straight out of an episode of “Law and Order,” one of her favorite television shows. She displayed a Donna Karan blazer dress that she says she was wearing when assaulted. Problem: That garment did not exist at the time. The whole case was ridiculous, and Trump said so, which is how he got caught up in a surreal defamation case and was hit with an $83.3 million fine.

$83 million of the crispest. For saying that the wackette in question was off her rocker and, not to put too fine a point on it, that she was lying. Most experts believe that Trump will not have to part with anything like $83 million, if indeed he winds up owing the accuser-in-chief anything at all, at the conclusion of his appeals.

But the case of E. Jean Carroll, for that is the name of the decrepit aspiring bimbo, is just an hors d’oeuvre or appetizer in the great Get Trump Sweepstakes.  On Friday, Justice Arthur Engoron of the New York Supreme Court found Trump guilty of fraud because he had, said the Justice, overvalued some of his real estate assets when applying for bank loans.  The banks looked over the applications, found them in order, and were pleased when Trump paid them back in full and on time.  Result?  That marvelous contingency, a victimless crime.  Nevertheless, Donald Trump is the Emmanuel Goldstein of “Our Democracy™.”  No expedient is too extreme. He must be stopped.

Indeed, Letitia James, the Attorney General of New York, actually campaigned on the promise to Get Trump and shine a “bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings.”  That was six years ago.  Now Justice Engoron, part judge, part jester, has hit Trump with an eyewatering $355 million judgement and forbidden him or his evil spawn, Don Jr. and Eric Trump, from running their companies in New York for a period of three years.

It was a preposterous, vindictive judgment, especially since none of the banks Trump dealt with had any issue with Trump.  He is a “whale of a client,” said executives from Deutsche Bank, who acknowledged that they sought further business from Trump. Trump’s lawyers brought Eli Bartov, an expert witness from New York University, to testify.  He reviewed Trump’s financial statements and said he found no evidence of fraud. “My main finding,” he testified, “is that there is no evidence whatsoever of any accounting fraud.”

In any normal world, one would think that would be exculpatory.  But this is the bizarro world created by Trump Derangement Syndrome.  The establishment, in a desperate attempt to preserve that status quo, and thus their perquisites at the public trough, regard Donald Trump as an existential threat. They are right about that. But in their desperation to remove the threat, they have not only trampled on the rule of law and every canon of fair play, they have also sealed their eventual eclipse.  One by one, the cases against Trump are cracking. In Georgia, where Trump is accused of attempting to overturn the 2020 election, District Attorney Fani Willis herself faces removal from the case and possible disbarment for lavishing taxpayer money on her boyfriend whom she also hired to prosecute Trump. In Washington, Jack Smith’s attempt to nab Trump for his supposed role in the January 6 riot at the Capitol is in a state of suspension; ditto the Florida case involving Trump’s possession of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, a case that was complicated last week when Special Counsel Robert Hur released his 350-page report acknowledging that “President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.” Moreover, those classified documents were found in Biden’s “garage, offices, and basement den” in Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, home.

Back again in New York, Trump is set to face a criminal trial beginning on March 25 on charges brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump was charged with paying Stormy Daniels “hush money” in advance of the 2016 election. That is not a crime, so Bragg argued that it amounted to a campaign finance violation.  That is a federal crime, not a state crime, but the game of Get Trump is a bit like Calvin Ball from the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. The only rule is that it can’t be played the same way twice.

Donald Trump is facing a monumental wall of—I was going to say “legal trouble.”  But it is really “extra-legal” legal trouble. It’s possible that with all these darts being thrown, one will stick and he will be brought down.  More likely, I think, is that he will prevail, head “bloody, but unbowed.” I expect him to win the GOP nomination.  I also expect him, whether or not he is convicted, to win the election in November. Last time, in 2017, they let him take office but forbore to let him take power.  That was what the Russian Collusion Delusion, the impeachments, and all the other static that surrounded him from the moment he came down the elevator in 2015 to announce his candidacy were all about.

This time, it will be different.  He knows that Washington is a swamp.  Whether he will be able to drain it while remaining on the inside remains to be seen.  As I have argued many times, I think he should do everything possible to reduce the place of Washington, which is enemy territory, in the metabolism of American political life. He should govern as far as possible from elsewhere. Anything he can do to starve Washington, he should do. He should begin by holding the inauguration outside of Washington. I favor Mar-a-Lago as a better venue, but anywhere else would send the requisite signal.

In any event, all that is what Kierkegaard called a “preliminary expectoration.” The main event will begin on January 20 at noon, when Donald Trump can begin to fulfill his campaign promise to be our retribution.  It will be a consummation devoutly to be wished.

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