Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos
Donald Trump came into office having just paid a $20 million fine for duping Americans out of their savings. He was forced to close the Trump Foundation after it became clear that Trump had used the "charity" to buy portraits of himself, renovate a hotel fountain, and pay off a $1 million golf bet. Among other things. And all of that followed Trump's casino paying a record fine after being cited 106 times for money laundering.
Considering how much of the last four years was dedicated to the daily concern that Donald Trump might decide that launching a war on Canada would be good for his ratings on Fox, or that he might just press the wrong big red button when he was thirsty, the most basic thing about Trump became rather easy to overlook. He's a crook. There is no situation in which Trump hasn't been willing to dupe, cheat, and extort his way to another dollar.
So when Donald Trump was gifted, through the sad actions of nature and the even sadder actions of Mitch McConnell, with the opportunity to name three new justices to the Supreme Court, he must have felt an enormous sense of relief. Finally, he must have thought, he would have a buffer between his unending need to lie, cheat, and steal, and the petty concerns of mortals with their laws.
As it turns out … nope.
As CNN reports, Trump's attempts to keep his past tax documents secret foundered on the rocks of the Supreme Court for a second time on Monday when an unsigned decision refused to block access from New York state investigators. Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance is now expected to take delivery of Trump's giant heap of tax records "within the next few days."
It's taken over a year to get to this point, as Trump's endless string of appeals have taken the case up to the Supreme Court twice. There's no doubt Trump will launch still more appeals, suing to stop access on some other ground. Because that—an endless attempt to gum up the process by using his money to gum up the legal system—is how Trump always works. But at this stage finding a judge willing to go along with Trump's request for another stay may be difficult. Not only have three Trump-appointed members of the Supreme Court spiked this ball back on two occasions, the efforts have also failed at the district and appeals levels. Unless Trump can think of some reason why New York taxes and the Manhattan DA need to fight this case out in Texas, it's likely those boxes will start arriving on Vance's desk Real Soon Now.
According to The Hill, Trump is none too happy that his slate of justices didn't have an understanding of the pro quo in the quid he delivered to them. On Monday, Trump issued a statement saying that the Supreme Court should have blocked Manhattan because, "it is all Democrat-inspired in a totally Democrat location, New York City and State, completely controlled and dominated by a heavily reported enemy of mine, Governor Andrew Cuomo." Honestly, Cuomo probably has other things on his mind at this point, but seeing Trump lose this one might have given the governor a momentary feeling of warmth.
Proving that while he may have endless schemes to rob people blind, his vocabulary consists of just a handful of phrases, Trump described the investigation into his finances as "the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of our Country." He then followed up by using yet more text taken by using scissors and tape, serial killer style, to every speech he's made since November. "I will fight on," said Trump, "just as I have, for the last five years (even before I was successfully elected), despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me. We will win!"
There's every reason to expect that Trump's taxes are composed entirely of crime. Trump is, after all, the sole owner of roughly 500 companies, many of which exist for the purpose of simply "lending" equipment or funds to other Trump companies. Many of them, like the multiple layers of corporate ownership around his planes, appear to suggest that Trump is taking tax breaks both for owning and leasing the same objects. That's not even getting into schemes like the one in which Trump duped investors into putting him in charge of an effort to buy a bankrupt casino, promptly bankrupted the investment group, bought it all back for pennies on the dollar, then declared bankruptcy. Again. Or when he bought a $28 million yacht, then billed it all to a failing casino. Before declaring bankruptcy.
Trump has used these companies to put layer on layer of corporate insulation between himself and consequences. He gets other people to back his projects, spends lavishly on the gold-plated opulence, then always seems to be on hand to pick up sole ownership when the overly costly project buckles under its own weight. He punishes investors for their faith in him, and lives in the ruins of their dreams. So … yeah, all this might seem worth investigating.
In particular, Vance is looking into the payments Trump made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to cover up their affairs and convince the two women to sign statements that would keep their stories from emerging in advance of the 2016 election. Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was convicted of tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations in counts were Trump was clearly an unindicted co-conspirator. Also, Cohen's testimony repeatedly indicated that there were other issues worth investigating. Several other issues.
So, the Supreme Court allowing this to move forward does seem like the opening day of Justice Season. Only, before visions of Trump wearing clothing even more orange than his bronzer start dancing through anyone's head, there are a few things to remember.
Trump has already been "caught" over and over. See above where Trump was found to have swindled retired couples out of their last dimes, used money that was supposed to go to disabled vets to commission self-portraits, and was convicted of money laundering 106 times. Finding that Donald Trump has committed a crime is the legal equivalent of discovering that there is a "y" in the word "day."
It would be nice to think that Vance, or New York Attorney General Letitia James, were going to grab Trump by his ludicrous comb-over and drag him straight to a cell in some state prison that does not even have a putting green. But it's extremely unlikely. Because the laws really are set up so that Trump's 500 legal fictions provide a buffer between his actions and consequences. Should it turn out that Trump Airline's Moving and Storage Leasing Agency has stolen millions in taxpayer funds by claiming false deductions and purposefully misreporting values of everything from helicopters to helipad-topped skyscrapers, the likely outcome is that one of these fictional entities will pay a fine. Should Trump be charged in connection with the crimes committed by Cohen, expect the worst outcome to be a flood of fundraising emails. "Help me fight off my Democratic enemies in the greatest Political Witch Hunt Ever in the History of ..." Etc.
After all, it's not like he stole $9. He's a wealthy white guy who stole tens of millions, extorted women to hide his infidelities, and offered up the nation on a platter to win an election. That's so, so different.
Trump may have lost this round in the Supreme Court because the clear letter of the law made it difficult to ignore his efforts to cover up his crimes. Should it ever come to it, expect that same court to discover that the law protects Trump from the consequences.
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