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When push comes to shove, it may be Donald Trump's sheer, malign incompetence that saves the Republic. The more evidence accumulates about his crackpot schemes to overthrow the 2020 presidential election, the more they resemble the plot line of one of Donald E. Westlake's Dortmunder novels about a career criminal whose elaborate heists go hilariously wrong.
My favorite is Bank Shot, in which Dortmunder's intrepid gang hauls away one of those temporary mobile home banks one night only to realize—uh oh!—that Long Island is, indeed, an island, and that the cops have already blockaded the bridges. In the end, the fool thing rolls downhill and sinks into the Atlantic Ocean. There's a funny film version starring George C. Scott.
Just so: Trump's post-election scam featuring the likes of Ohio Rep, "Gym" Jordan, aka the Very Angry Congressman, and co-starring the mustachioed MyPillow guy and a bunch of comically-inept lawyers who have lost 64 consecutive court cases. Also featuring Rudolph W. Giuliani as A Guy Who Used to Be Somebody until he discovered the wonder-working powers of single-malt Scotch.
(A confession: I too once felt spray-on hair dye running down my face during a sweaty interlude masquerading as a blond professional wrestling heel. I was in the eighth grade.)
Ordinarily, Trump exhibits the low cunning of a Mob boss. Rule One is: never write anything down. It's clearly because he sends no emails or written directives that Trump himself has so far escaped New York tax fraud charges. The law requires proof of corrupt intent, and as long as nobody rats him out, the boss can plead ignorance.
If you believe that Donald J. Trump, a guy who stiffs pretty much everybody he's ever done business with (and currently refuses to pay Giuliani's legal fees) was unaware of Trump Organization tax avoidance scams exactly like those he learned from dear old Dad…
Well, you probably also believe that he won the 2020 election in a landslide. So let's move on.
Rule Two in the mob boss handbook is this: Never talk about it over the phone. That's one we've seen the big dope violate often. He's constitutionally incapable of keeping his mouth shut. First, when he tried to shake down the President of Ukraine into announcing a phony investigation of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
That one got him impeached, if not convicted.
Second, when he phoned Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger last January 2 urging him to "find" enough votes to overturn Trump's 11,779-vote defeat there.
"I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have," he said. "Because we won the state." Unwilling to cheat, Raffensberger recorded the call. The Washington Post soon had a copy.
Trump also tried to bully Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Arizona's Doug Ducey. Both resisted. Republican legislators in Michigan and Wisconsin also refused to play ball. All now face Trump-endorsed primary opponents.
Attorney General William Barr resigned in December, using a barnyard epithet to describe the quality of Trump's evidence of fraud.
An ordinary con man would back off and start planning his comeback. As the lamest of lame ducks, Trump had no power to make anybody do anything that conflicted with their principles or self-interest.
Lacking ethics of his own, he's blind to those of others. So he tried strong-arming acting attorney general Jeffrey A. Rosen, and deputy, Richard P. Donoghue over the phone.
As any competent lawyer would, Donoghue took notes.
DOJ lawyers, he wrote "Told [Trump] flat out that much of the info he is getting is false, +/or just not supported by the evidence—we look at allegations but they do not pan out." They told Trump that DOJ had neither the constitutional authority nor any intention of interfering in a presidential election.
Like some QAnon crank in his grandma's basement, Trump persevered: "Don't expect you to do that, just say that the election was corrupt, he insisted, and "leave the rest to me and the R[epublican] Congressmen."
Clearer evidence of criminal intent would be hard to find. Trump meant to overturn the election by any means possible. Exactly how much proof can be found of White House involvement in raising the January 6 mob remains to be seen. But the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers didn't just decide on a mid-winter camping trip.
Trump told the gathering mob that they needed to march to the Capitol and "fight like hell, or you won't have a country anymore." He vowed to march with them. Fat chance. He quickly retreated into the White House to enjoy the spectacle on TV.
So now the portly con man in elevator shoes has been quoted calling the cops who fought hours of hand-to-hand combat while the mob chanted "Kill Mike Pence" "pussies" and "cowards."One thing you can bank on: He'll never say it to their faces.
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By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday denied the findings of a five-month investigation by the state's attorney general that found he sexually harassed multiple women in violation of U.S. and state law and created a "climate of fear" in his office.
"I never touched anyone inappropriately," said Cuomo, a Democrat who has served as governor since 2011. "That is just not who I am and that's not who I have ever been."
The investigation showed that Cuomo engaged in unwanted groping, kissing and hugging, and made inappropriate comments to a total of 11 women, state Attorney General Letitia James told a news briefing earlier on Tuesday, adding that the governor's office had become a "toxic workplace" that enabled harassment to occur.
"The facts are much different than what has been portrayed," Cuomo said.
The findings, detailed in a scathing 168-page report, could deal a devastating blow to Cuomo's political future and hinder his administration, although the probe was civil in nature and will not directly lead to any criminal charges against him.
"These 11 women were in a hostile and toxic work environment. We should believe women," said James, a Democrat.
"What this investigation revealed was a disturbing pattern of conduct by the governor of the great state of New York," James added.
There was no immediate comment from the governor's office. Cuomo, 63, has denied wrongdoing.
Carl Heastie, speaker of the Democratic-controlled New York Assembly who has authorized an impeachment investigation into Cuomo's conduct, in a statement called the report's findings "disturbing" and said they pointed to "someone who is not fit for office."
State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Senate majority leader, issued a statement saying the report detailed "unacceptable behavior" by Cuomo and his administration and calling on him to "resign for the good of the state."
"Now that the investigation is complete and the allegations have been substantiated, it should be clear to everyone that he can no longer serve as governor," Stewart-Cousins said.
Investigators spoke to 179 people, including complainants and current and former members of the executive chamber, James said. She said the probe resulted in a "clear picture" of what she called a "climate of fear" in which Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, many of them young.
James launched her investigation into the allegations after receiving a formal request from Cuomo's office on March 1 to do so as the number of publicly reported allegations mounted.
James named two veteran outside attorneys to run the investigation: Joon Kim, a former federal prosecutor and acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, and Anne Clark, an employment lawyer with experience in sexual harassment cases.
Kim told the briefing that the Cuomo workplace was "rife with bullying, fear and intimidation" and one in which crossing the governor or his senior staff meant you would be "written off, cast aside or worse."
The report said one of the women Cuomo targeted was a state trooper. Clark said Cuomo stood behind the trooper in an elevator and "ran his finger from her neck down her spin and said, 'Hey you.'" The governor also ran an "open hand from her belly button to her hip where she carries her gun," Clark added. The trooper, according to Clark, said Cuomo inappropriately touched her from "in her words, her chest to her privates."
The report shows that investigators did not find Cuomo's explanations about his encounters to be credible. It said Cuomo's "blanket denials and lack of recollection as to specific incidents stood in stark contrast to the strength, specificity, and corroboration of the complainants' recollections."
It was a swift fall for the governor. Cuomo became nationally popular last year in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic by presenting himself as an authoritative figure in daily televised press conferences. The complaints about sexual harassment emerged after broader criticism by Democratic politicians in the state that Cuomo governed through intimidation.
Cuomo, the divorced father of three adult daughters, was elected to three terms as governor, as was his late father, Mario Cuomo. Like his father, Andrew Cuomo resisted the temptation to run for U.S. president despite much speculation about possible national ambitions.
(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; editing by Will Dunham and Jonathan Oatis)