Donald Trump Heads for the Big Apple
Indictments charge people with crimes. No more, no less! But no one should ever want to be indicted! No one!
The wrath of the law approaches Mr. Trump often, but now it has touched him like it never has before. He will be photographed – full on and from the side – and fingerprinted. The court will surely release him on his own recognizance, but I expect that he will have to forfeit his passport. (That assumes he has a current one.) He will likely face other mobility restrictions, and it will be unwise for him to thumb his nose at or raise a middle digit in the direction of the court.
More than the referenced indignities await Mr. Trump. He’s popping his criminal ch*rry on the case he can most likely beat. Less so, the expected charges from Georgia for trying to tamper with the 2020 election results. And the lollapalooza will be the federal charges arising from wrongfully retaining top secret government documents. And repeatedly lying to the government about what he did with them.
I don’t handle criminal cases, but I have touched them in several settings. Think State Bar discipline, legal malpractice, and civil cases arising out of criminal activity. (Most of the significant real estate scammer cases with which I have been involved arose out of or generated an indictment and conviction.) I am comfortable with the following observation: Prosecutors seek indictments when they think they have facts and law that will result in a conviction. Cases require lots of time and effort. Government workers – elected or otherwise – don’t collect overtime because the case against Former POTUS requires extra effort.
Two more things about the prosecutors here. First, by pursuing Mr. Trump, none of Alvin Bragg (the New York County District Attorney), Fani Willis (the Fulton County District Attorney), and Jack Smith (Special Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the Trump documents case), will advantage themselves politically. None of them have evident political ambitions and none of them will likely benefit from the endeavor. So, enough about “It’s only politics!”
Second, the work generates no thanks and constant fear. LB knows, in her bones, that someone will try to off Mr. Bragg or Ms. Willis. (Mr. Smith, who works for the feds, likely suffers less risk, but I’d be “you know what-ing my pants” if I was any of them.) People can talk “ridiculous” all they want, but we should pay attention when Mr. Trump talks about death and destruction if he’s indicted.
Will this serial liar ever see the inside of a jail cell? Probably not. A bunk in a minimum security prison? Slightly more likely but, again, probably not. But, with the indictment from New York and, seemingly, more to come from elsewhere, we will get a chance to see facts. People lie in court, for sure, but with this man we have lots and lots and lots of statements coming from his own lips. Lying in the public sphere works well when you have a fan base that treats you with favor, no matter how ridiculous your utterances are. In court, though, documents and testimony tend to match up very well, as against blather and bluster.
Mr. Trump has made his way in the world for decades because no one has cared enough to hold him accountable. For facts about him, check out David Cay Johnston’s work. He’s a brilliant man and quite a character. (I happened upon him, sitting alone, at the Tucson Festival of Books. Plenty of fun for 20 minutes or so.)
Mr. Johnston has Mr. Trump’s number. Completely. The Making of Donald Trump, begs the question: How did this man avoid prison for tax evasion and many other crimes?
Mr. Trump will have his days in the New York County Courthouse, beginning next week. He will bloviate, perorate, and pontificate. And prevaricate, always. But justice will win, whatever comes Mr. Trump’s way.
Having a former president indicted saddens me, but it saddens me far less than the fact that we ever elected Donald J. Trump. I so wish none of what we face had ever happened but I am proud of our legal system and those who serve it, for speaking truth to power.