The cases against Trump

By way of introduction, let’s summarize the major legal problems facing Donald Trump at the moment:

  • Justice Department investigation of the unlawful taking of public documents, including some that are classified, which Donald Trump has or had at his Florida home for more than 18 months
  • DOJ investigation of January 6 insurrection
  • The House of Representatives January 6 Committee work
  • New York Attorney General Leticia James suit against Trump and three of his children for possible financial fraud
  • Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis investigation of election tampering

That sounds like a whole lot of lawlessness from the Trump/MAGA/Republican Party that is so concerned with crime.

All this requires a great deal of “lawyering up.”  Trump’s history with attorneys has been consistently… bad.  His reputation for playing his own shadow attorney; his efforts to drag out everything forever; his failure to pay his bills are all well-known marks of the man.  The 2020 post-election legal proceedings by the Trump lawyers left wreckage around the country.  They always lost (okay, one win out of 61 cases).   As a result, many of them have faced discipline or disbarment actions.

His use and abuse of White House and Justice Department attorneys from November 2020 through January 2021 left many of those lawyers forced to testify in various legal venues and often to defend themselves when caught in Trump-dictated lies.  Trump’s interactions with his attorneys explains why MAGA now stands for “Making Attorneys Get Attorneys.”

The most recent legal calamities to befall Trump are the result of him removing (or perhaps more correctly, stealing) public documents from the White House that he had no right to take with him.  His Florida lawyers, likely at his direction, perjured themselves by signing documents in June stating that he had turned over everything. 

Recent court proceedings with the Special Master assigned to review the document matters have resulted in Trump’s current lawyers being afraid to put things in legal papers concerning issues involving classified and top-secret matters.  They know such actions can land them personally in jeopardy of committing perjury.  Can’t wait for those lawyers to explain how a president can declassify documents “even by thinking of it… there doesn’t have to be a process, there can be a process but there doesn’t have to be.”  It appears that it’s time for another one of those “person, woman, man, camera, TV” evaluations for the former guy.

The Special Master has also told those lawyers to explain what the former president was referring to concerning his comments suggesting that FBI agents had planted documents at Mar-a-Lago.

We are regularly reading about the possibility of one or more indictments of Trump for violations of the law involving the list of cases above.  Who knows?  Has anyone dusted off the old “unindicted co-conspirator” laws and procedures?

But here’s a different option. Imagine this unlikely scenario, even though it could go a long way to resolving things:

The players:  Trump; one or more of his best (lol) attorneys; Attorney General Merrick Garland; U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams; New York Attorney General Leticia James; Congressman Bennie Thompson, Chair of the House January 6 Committee; Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis.

The location:  the Justice Department, Washington, D.C.

The subject:  consolidation of all potential charges against Trump.

Here’s is a possible discussion:

  • Garland:  “Mr. Trump, we are gathered here to see if we can protect American democracy, and less importantly, simplify your life.  We are attempting to consolidate the legal prosecutions and investigations of your alleged wrongdoing.”
  • Trump:  “Let me tell you how you should work these matters out.”
  • Thompson, James, Willis, Williams, in unison:  “Please sit down.  We’re doing the talking here.”
  • Williams:  “Mr. Trump, the prosecutors assembled here are quite confident that we can bring charges against you that will stick.  It is our preference to do so.  But as President Gerald Ford agonized over and ultimately decided in 1974 concerning Richard Nixon’s crimes, we need to consider how simultaneous prosecution in multiple venues could do great harm to a country that needs to begin healing.  Our concern is for our country, not for you.”
  • Trump:  “These are all witch …”
  • All:  “shut up and sit down.”
  • Garland:  “We have collectively decided, in the country’s best interest, to offer you a plea deal, a very simple plea deal.  In exchange for you acknowledging:
    • that the 2020 election was not stolen
    • that you and your allies attempted in various ways, to tamper with the legitimate election results
    • that you incited a violent insurrection on January 6, 2021
    • that you and your three children committed financial fraud involving your real estate transactions”
  • “You will be required to sign a document I am now handing to you, accepting full responsibility for the above noted violations of federal and state laws.  You will be admitting guilt to all official or prospective charges.”
  • “As for punishment for these violations of the law, you will pay all attorney and government prosecutor expenses involved in all the noted cases.”
  • “You will also acknowledge and agree to required actions such as making restitution for matters involving financial fraud in the minimum amount of $250 million.”
  • “As a condition of accepting this plea deal, you will acknowledge that you are in fact a convicted felon, and therefore, ineligible to be a candidate for or to hold an elected public position for any federal, state, or local office for the remainder of your life.”
  • Trump:  “this is ridiculous.  I’m being railroaded.  I…”
  • Garland:  “sign here and accept your consequences or be prepared for never-ending legal hell.”

Speaking of Republicans whose political careers are on shaky grounds

Jack O’Donnell and his lobbying firm associate Camille Brandon invited some local Democratic Party officeholders to attend a Speaker Series event including drinks and dinner with Congressman Chris Jacobs at the Buffalo Club in late August. O’Donnell makes appearances on TV and radio as a Democratic analyst, and Brandon has a long history with Democratic Party politics. Were they promoting Jacobs for something? His name comes up as a possible candidate for Erie County Executive next year. Jacobs’s reputation among his fellow Republicans seems to be in tatters these days following his break with the party on gun control issues.

Follow me on Twitter @kenkruly

Searching for political common ground in the age of chaos

Politics and government touch everyone, whether it is welcomed or not.  Lives are busy and difficult enough for most Americans without having to deal with political turmoil, which is nurtured by the fringes of the spectrum.

A reader of this blog recently offered up an assessment of where things stand and how they might get better:  Past elected officials were often willing to reach across the aisle to do the work of the ” people.”   That is not today’s government.  We are way too partisan and way too divided.  The rhetoric needs to change…we need to be 1 nation not divided. Clearly the far left and far right have too much to say. 

The solution is setting standards and rules in political contests.  Without these rules, we have gotten extremely negative campaigns.  With such negative campaigns, nominees are pushed to the far left or far right, the electorate doesn’t know what is true and what is exaggeration.  I believe that if we had reasonable rules …. if we had positive campaigning …if we stuck to the issues…we would have greater voter turnout and once again the majority would prevail.

My correspondent is a local political leader who routinely lines up on one side of the aisle.  There are undoubtedly many such active participants in the world of politics who may upon reflection feel the same way about how things might get better.  But most folks are too busy going about their calling in life.

We have just finished what seemed like an endless primary season.  Early voting is starting in some states on September 23, so the finish line of the mid-term elections is in sight.  It doesn’t look anymore like there is going to be a wave but more like ripples, and they won’t be all moving in the same direction.

In the Democratic Party the primaries, for the most part, produced November candidates who are tacking to the middle.  The progressives and Democratic Socialists had some wins here and there, but not many.  Even in sections of New York City their results were meager.  In some cases, such as in Manhattan’s 10th congressional district, they could not unite behind a single candidate and then saw Daniel Goldman, a more centrist candidate, win the primary with less than 30 percent of the vote.

With the help of Donald Trump, Republicans throughout the country made a sharp right turn.  In many of the primaries multiple candidate fields allowed the Trump-favored choice to eke out a win with about a third of the total vote.  The Republican victors were often election deniers espousing all sorts of radical political positions.  The tickets were left in many cases with the likes of Herschel Walker, Blake Masters, and Sarah Palin.

It’s fun now for a Democrat to watch some Republican primary winners struggle to purge Trump from their campaign websites and to try to find their way closer to the middle.   Take, for example, this dialogue from Trumper election denier, Don Bolduc, who won the Senate primary in New Hampshire: “So, you know, we uh, you know, live and learn, right?   I’ve done a lot of research on this, and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks talking to Granite Staters all over the state, from, you know, every party and I have come to the conclusion, and I want to be definitive on this.  The election was not stolen.”  Sometimes schadenfreude is just too hard to avoid.

Political campaigns always hope that the opposition puts up an awful candidate who will shoot themselves in the foot with foolish policy stances or election activities that offend the general electorate.  I’m inclined to question the wisdom of Democrats investing large amounts of limited campaign cash trying to manipulate Republican primary voters into choosing the worst possible candidate for November.  I’m afraid we will see more of this.

The question that now remains is how will the general electorate respond?  Will the Dobbs abortion decision continue to energize the Democratic base?  Never underestimate the power of determined women.  How will the January 6 hearings and Trump’s growing legal problems play into turnout?

It is not likely, in the middle of this current political storm, that there will be the time or inclination on the part of the citizenry to reflect on where things stand.  I do believe that there is actually some common ground where most of us could come together, but the current climate precludes the kind of calm, reasoned discussion that could bring us there. 

It is interesting, however, that in at least one recent poll, “threats to democracy” has risen to the top of voter concerns.  Hopefully the election results could encourage the reflection that is needed to get the largest possible number of Americans on the same page, or at least in the same chapter or book.

Going forward, the 2024 election cycle will begin just milliseconds after the polls close on November 8th.  That is a sad development.  It’s one of the current “rules” my correspondent might seek to change, to settle things down, to reflect, to reset.  Hope is eternal, but so it seems is political chaos.

Follow me on Twitter @kenkruly