As much as I might wish it to be, the question, “Is Donald Trump going to prison?” is not a rhetorical one. One must summon deep wells of patriotism and persistent faith in the American system to acknowledge that it’s neither a rhetorical question nor a foregone conclusion. We still have a thing called Due Process. There’s still a thing called the Burden of Proof, and that burden rests squarely on the shoulders of the prosecution. I’ll even allow there’s a thing called the Presumption of Innocence, even though I never practice it vis a vis Donald Trump, neither in public nor in private.
I’m old enough, as are most of you, to recall the OJ Simpson trial. What it taught us, or should have, was that no matter how open-and-shut a criminal case may be, no matter how many pieces of evidence point inexorably at the defendant’s guilt, any man or woman with sufficient fame, fortune and purported charisma can, at the end of the day, be found not guilty by a sufficiently stupid and biased jury with the help of a sufficiently inept prosecution.
Though it pains me slightly to confess it, it remains a good thing that Donald Trump’s conviction and imprisonment are not fait accomplis, because if they were we wouldn’t have a Republic, we’d have a tyranny. Everyone deserves their day in court, even Donald Trump.
That said, do I really think Donald Trump is going to prison? Yes I do. I’m not certain of it, but I think he is. And I think as recently as February or March of 2020 he could have avoided it. What’s sending him to prison is he’s finally gone too far.
Not too far for a poor black man, of course. Too far for a poor black man, in the American justice system, is called mere existence. But too far for a supposedly rich and famous white man who is beloved by a bafflingly large portion of Americans. He could have done coronavirus right and bought himself a second term, and that second term could have been enough to get any future administration to forget about prosecuting him. But the reason he screwed it up is the reason I’m bringing to you today.
I think Donald Trump isn’t just broke, I think he’s very broke. I think he’s more than a billion dollars in debt. Evidence is emerging that he is. Despite his rapacious emoluments violations and the power of the presidency, his numerous properties, hotels and golf results have been hemorrhaging money at an alarming rate. Coronavirus has been the nail in his economic coffin, so to speak, and that is why he is desperate to reopen the country. He’s trying to reopen the country, not because he merely wants the stock market to rally and unemployment figures to drop so his re-election chances improve, he’s doing it to save his crumbling businesses. Remember, Trump is principally in the hospitality business, and that’s the worst business on earth to be in in the midst of a global pandemic.
Donald Trump is poorer than anyone reading these words. In cosmological terms, Trump isn’t a dead star, he’s a massive black hole. He’s got scary debt. A clever and corrupt businessman could have used the power of the presidency to turn such debt around and come out on top. But Trump is only corrupt. Not only is he not a clever businessman, he’s not even a businessman. He’s a conman.
Even OJ Simpson had money. Not a lot by today’s trillionaire standards, but on the order of around fourteen million dollars. Respectable by early 90s standards. And, even though most of Simpson’s “dream team” of lawyers were crap, he was able to pay for that team.
Trump is broke. No lawyer would represent him for pay, because he or she would know that Trump, who doesn’t pay people in the best of times, is broke. If he loses in November, the downward slide to prison is greased lightning with nothing apparent to slow him down. All he will have to protect him is Due Process. He has nothing to bargain with, no one to “give up” that’s bigger than he is, so plea bargaining may be out of the question, or nearly so.
But what’s more is he won’t have money. And he will have been rejected by the American people and thrown out of office. That’s why it’s all up to us. We must vote. We must vote in overwhelming numbers. If we do, I’m reasonably sure we will send this toxic, hateful, divisive, murdering rapist who almost destroyed America to a prison cell. And he will die there. And that will be a glorious, glorious day for justice. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.