Frank Swain, the award-winning science writer for the BBC, once tweeted this:
Study 3 years for degree.
Study 3 more for PhD.
Join lab, start working.
Spend years studying problem.
Form hypothesis, gather evidence.
Test hypothesis, form conclusions.
Report findings, clear peer review.
Findings published, reported in press.
Guy on internet: “Bullshit.”
This charming little tweet reminds me why I value experts over non-experts. Experts know what they’re talking about. Non-experts make guesses and crow when they are “right” entirely by accident and — not without justification — hope everyone forgets when they’re wrong. It’s an old trick used by “psychics” too.
There are a lot of non-experts out there, many of whom write columns for the news media for a living, who are full of the theatrically baleful, regretful news that Donald Trump is most emphatically not going to prison after he leaves office. With patient condescension they explain why. Trump is different, they say. Such things simply don’t happen to ex-presidents, they say. We would be no better than a third world country if every time a president left office his successor put him in jail, they say. And so on.
But like I said, I prefer the opinions of experts. Experts study their field of expertise for years and are employed in those fields professionally 40 hours a week. Experts actually know what they’re talking about. Lucky for me I know one of those experts personally.
Mark Allenbaugh is a lawyer and former staffer with the U.S. Sentencing Commission. These days he is a consultant for other lawyers about sentencing guidelines and statutes for his company, Sentencing Stats, LLC.
Mark isn’t just an expert in his field, he has good instincts for everything he puts his mind to. I have recent personal experience to further justify my confidence in him. Mark frequently travels to China and he saw the coming coronavirus pandemic and the resulting problems it would cause long before most people did. It was from Mark that I learned what an N-95 mask was a number of weeks before ”N-95 mask” started trending as a household word. It was from Mark that I first learned that coronavirus was going to be a major problem for the world.
But it’s as a lawyer and expert in criminal justice that Mark Allenbaugh shines professionally. Mark is a virtuoso in how the criminal just system works, and he has some very bad news for Donald Trump: not only is Trump going to prison, he’s either going to prison for the rest of his life, or he will die on the way there. Mark puts it this way, “I think it is a near certainty that he will be charged. I’d say there’s a fifty-fifty chance he will be remanded before trial. However, I give it about a zero percent chance he will ever go to trial or plead. Once he’s indicted, plus the overwhelming negative press that will constantly berate him, and once everyone disavows him with the formerly racists burning their MAGA caps (so they literally don’t get lynched), he will die. The depression will be overwhelming. Given his age and poor health, I don’t see him making it to 2022.”
But with what will Trump be charged? Mark explains: “Well, there is a pantheon of charges he’s looking at. But let’s go with the mundane. Money laundering and tax evasion are probably the lowest hanging fruit that he’s run through his hotels and golf resorts. Each count brings up to 20 years imprisonment. And given the amount of money involved, his guidelines sentence will be well into decades in length.”
As he said, Mark doesn’t even expect Donald Trump will make it to trial because Trump will probably die first. “But all that is academic. Given his age and health, any sentence beyond a year will be a de facto life sentence for him. The real question is whether a judge will bond him out. Normally they do in federal court by just a signature bond. Meaning no collateral is even required like in most state courts.
“However, here Trump clearly is a flight risk and ostensibly a danger to the community. Witness tampering/intimidation may be a charge too with respect to Michael Cohen and others. But just the flight risk alone based on his substantial ties to foreign countries such as Russia, and his means to flee, again, I think there’s a fifty-fifty chance he will not be bonded out. In which case he will sit in prison just like [Paul] Manafort.”
But, isn’t Trump the healthiest president of all time, according, at least, to doctors who work for him? “Of course, Trump will change his tune from such a healthy specimen to one loaded with uncontrolled, terminal health issues in order to stay out [of prison while awaiting trial].”
What would Mark do in the judge’s position? “Frankly, if I were the judge, I’d bond him out and hope he’d flee the country. [It] would spare the expense and theatrics of a trial and give us leverage over whatever country he fled to.”
Mark’s knowledge of the life expectancy of charged or incarcerated persons isn’t merely anecdotal. He knows what the latest science has to say about it. Mark quotes a study done by Dr. Evelyn Patterson of Vanderbilt University, someone he knows professionally. “According to her peer-reviewed study, on average an inmate loses two years of life expectancy for every year of incarceration. However, in conversations with her, she has emphasized that older inmates will be even more adversely affected, but her study did not specifically focus on them. So, let’s say Trump has 10 years of life expectancy at the time he is sentenced. If he is sentenced to anything more than 3.3 years in prison, he almost certainly will die in prison. Add to that his age and obesity … and anything more than one year will be a de facto life sentence. Plus, given who he is, he will likely be in a special housing unit the entire time, i.e., isolation. He will literally go mad.”
I had no idea what Mark Allenbaugh would say before I asked him these questions. I supposed in advance he would echo the same grim narrative that many pundits and talking heads in the media support, namely that there is no justice and that presidents are above the law. I’m pleased to learn from Mark that most certainly isn’t the case and that justice is possible in this instance. It is therefore up to us to ensure that we give justice its chance.
Joe Biden has already promised that he will not pardon Donald Trump if he’s elected president. So we must vote this child-raping, murdering monster Donald Trump out of office in November, end his egregious reign of tyranny and set loose the righteous vengeance of justice upon him at long last. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.