When a New York Supreme Court judge ruled this week that Donald Trump and his family must testify in the New York Attorney General’s civil probe into the Trump Organization, it was an ugly blow for the Trumps to say the least. But the real news coming out of this is why the Trumps have been fighting to not have to testify.
Now that the Trumps have been ordered to testify, if they still refuse (or give uncooperative Fifth Amendment-laden testimony), the New York Attorney General will be able to use this as a basis for dropping the hammer on the Trump Organization and taking its assets to cover the financial penalties. After all, if a company is being investigated by the government, and the people who run that company are refusing to testify in its defense, then that’s the ballgame.
So the Trump Organization is a goner unless the Trumps can disprove the allegations New York has made. If the Trumps thought they could accomplish this by testifying, without incriminating themselves in the process, they’d do it. Their refusal to testify means they know they’re screwed. Like, really screwed.
Imagine deciding to forfeit your company, its assets, and the income you derive from it all, in the hope of perhaps slightly reducing your odds of going to prison. That’s the position the Trumps are in at this point. That’s how screwed they know they are.
Even if the Trumps consider themselves innocent in all of this, their actions make clear that they expect to be criminally indicted in New York, and they’re worried about beating the rap at trial. In fact they’re so worried about it, they’re now effectively forfeiting their entire real estate empire in the name of somehow trying to avoid prison.
Sure, Donald Trump still gets quasi-campaign donations from his fans, for a 2024 campaign that’ll never actually launch. And sure, the Republican Party is still paying some of Trump’s legal bills, for now. But these are mere pilfering schemes, and temporary ones at that. They can’t possibly be enough to keep the Trump financial house of cards afloat. If Donald Trump can no longer have a stable of upside-down real estate assets to use in the name of cheating his way into getting his hands on more money, there’s no reason to expect he can keep up the illusion that he’s wealthy. Then again, once Trump is in prison, he won’t need money anyway.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report