It sucks to be Donald Trump at any time but especially now. Myriad investigations are swirling about, even as he hints at another run for the White House in 2024. The most newsworthy events now surround the civil trial and the news that Justice Arthur Engoron had appointed an independent monitor to oversee the Trump Organization’s business dealings, which New York prosecutors allege are attempts to avoid responsibility by transferring financial assets out of New York. Trump, of course, believes Justice Engoron is against him because he earlier found him in contempt, but unlike Trump’s hand-picked judge Aileen Cannon, Justice Engoron is following the law. It’s not his fault that Trump is a serial law breaker.
The Trump Organization has been accused of fraud, and evidence certainly exists that points in that direction. Consequently, Justice Engoron ruled that an independent monitor is the best way to “ensure there is no further fraud or illegality” until such time as this case has been heard and decided by a jury. Adding insult to injury, Justice Engoron ruled that Trump will pay for the independent monitor. Hey, that’s what happens when you’re not trustworthy. Under this order, the monitors will be the final arbiters with respect to Trump’s business dealings. If they determine that the Trump Organization has violated the judge’s order, the monitor is to immediately report that violation to the court, the defendants, and the attorney general. That means that any business dealings the Trump Organization enters had better be legitimate. Trump didn’t help matters when he chose to invoke the Fifth during his deposition, which Justice Engoron determined is a “negative inference” due to Trump’s invocation of the Fifth over 400 times during questioning. Again, if you have nothing to hide, why not just tell the truth? If you need to hide your “truth,” you’re probably not being honest. Invoking the Fifth is to guard against self-incrimination, which means you have something to hide. While the law says there is no “penalty” to invoking the Fifth, jurors are allowed to make an inference from that silence that they like, either positive or negative, though, let’s face it: it’s hard to find positive when someone wants to avoid self-incrimination. So, while Trump thinks Justice Engoron is being “unfair,” the Justice has the right to make the inference he chooses, and he has chosen to view Trump’s silence as a negative. That is his right.
Because of Trump’s typical way of doing business, it is obvious that he is trying to hide financial information from the prosecutor in this case. For example, is it a coincidence that the Trump Organization formed “Trump Organization II LLC” the same day this suit was filed? That is highly unlikely. It is more likely that Trump was scheming of some way to keep his money out of the hands of New York prosecutors. Forming a new company the day the suit was filed looks suspicious, but virtually everything Donald Trump does is suspect. Had he done nothing, Trump would look more above board, but money and power are everything to him.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years