Hey Judge! Just Lock Trump Up Already

Judge Juan Merchan

Judge Juan Merchan

Drawing by Jane Rosenberg/REUTERS

To hear angry MAGA Republicans tell it, former President Donald J. Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records is a shock and an outrage. But how could anybody be surprised? Never mind the evidence presented to the New York jury was voluminous and pretty much uncontested.

For all his bragging and whining, Trump didn’t dare testify — officially. But the judge’s gag order didn’t prevent him from spouting off. That was a Trump lie for the MAGA chumps in the cheap seats.

Legally speaking, has there ever been a bigger loser than Trump? Kevin Drum compiled a list on his invaluable website, jabberwocking.com.

He’s pretty much constantly in one court or another, Trump. And he nearly always loses. Following his 2020 election defeat, the candidate filed 62 — yes, 62 — lawsuits alleging election fraud.

And lost every single one.

Back in 2018, a federal court ordered him to pay $25 million in restitution to students defrauded by the Trump University scam. In 2019, a New York judge ordered the Trump Foundation permanently closed for playing fast and loose with the charitable organization’s funds. He and his family were fined $2 million and forbidden to operate a charity in the state again. Trump whined they should have investigated Bill and Hillary Clinton instead.

So, he sued Hillary. That one ended up costing him only $1 million after a federal judge in Florida ruled the suit was “completely frivolous” and should never have been brought. Trump, the judge wrote, was no babe in the woods: “Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries. He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process.”

That same day, Trump dropped a lawsuit against New York State Attorney General Letitia James that sought to stall her office’s civil case against the Trump Organization. The resulting trial found the Trump Organization guilty of massive tax fraud. “Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological,” Judge Arthur Engoron wrote.

The chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and was sentenced to five months in prison. He subsequently pleaded guilty to perjury and returned to the slammer for another five months.

For his part, Trump called the ruling a “sham,” the judge “crooked” and James “corrupt.” He denounced the case against him as “ELECTION INTERFERENCE” and a “WITCH HUNT.”

Sound familiar? Evidently, the Trump Organization was staffed by cheats and perjurers like Weisselberg and star prosecution witness Michael Cohen from top to bottom.

Everybody but Boss Trump, who knew nothing.

Elsewhere, Trump has brought lawsuits against The New York Times, CNN, NBC News and The Washington Post. All were dismissed due to lack of evidence. He was successfully sued for sexual abuse by magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll and ordered to pay her $5 million in restitution. When Trump continued to mock and malign her publicly, a second jury ordered him to pay her $83 million for defamation. But for the statute of limitations, the judge in the Carroll case commented, Trump could have been convicted of rape.

Needless to say, these levies are all on appeal. Chances are that Trump’s estate will end up owing E. Jean Carroll and the State of New York many millions of dollars in fines and interest.

Meanwhile, the hot-button issue of the day is whether Judge Juan Merchan will put Trump behind bars come his July 11 sentencing. And there, I fear, Trump’s big mouth is giving Merchan no choice.

Normally, a first-time offender of a paper crime would be sentenced to probation. But Trump shows no remorse, only contempt and defiance. During the trial, he openly and repeatedly violated a gag order intended to protect the proceedings against threats to court personnel, witnesses and jurors.

Indeed, Trump continues to defy that order, which remains in force until the judge says it doesn’t. He’s aided and abetted, it must be said, by canting Republican politicians who fear the MAGA horde.

Trump went on Fox & Friends the other day to vend the preposterous lie that he never chanted “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton. Anybody who believes that will believe anything — the hallmark of a MAGA cultist. As for jail time, he said the prospect doesn’t trouble him, but he’s “not sure the public would stand for it … You know, at a certain point, there’s a breaking point.”

And then what? To me, it’s an empty threat. Trump’s been trying to raise a MAGA mob throughout his tenure, and they keep not showing up. People aren’t going to risk their own freedom to save his mangy a**.

But a threat is a threat, and no American court can stand for it. Even if it’s only for a couple of months, Merchan is going to have little choice but to lock him up.

Reprinted with permission from Chicago SunTimes.

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