If the name Cyrus Vance rings a bell you may be, to put it delicately, of a certain age. His father, Cyrus Vance Sr., was Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter. The younger Mr. Vance currently serves as the Manhattan district attorney, and he may very well prove to be, in the pantheon of Donald Trump’s many nightmares, his most ferocious nightmare of all.
Cyrus Vance Jr. is pursuing the only currently known criminal investigation into Donald Trump and The Trump Organization. Vance’s current probe began two years ago in response to reports that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former friend, lawyer and fixer, had arranged hush money payments for two women who claimed to have had extramarital affairs with Trump. Cohen, who is serving what remains of his three year sentence “under house arrest” (according to Wikipedia), is cooperating fully with Mr. Vance’s probe.
This is very bad news for Trump and three of his quasi-adult children, Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric. The probe has followed where the criminality appears to lead, and it has led Mr. Vance’s team to possible banking and tax and insurance-related fraud committed by The Trump Organization. There’s a high probability that Donald Trump and his three children may go to prison if Vance elects to pursue charges.
But it’s a risky business. If you recall the plot to “A Few Good Men,” Tom Cruise risks a court martial by grilling a Marine Colonel on the witness stand. As you can imagine, indicting a former president of the United States is a much more hazardous proposition. As one New York political adviser puts it, “If he indicts Donald Trump, he better get him.” Tom Cruise got his man. Whatever the outcome for Mr. Vance, he will become a lightning rod for even more dangerous controversy than he currently has.
Daniel R Alonso, a New York lawyer, put it this way: “I’m positive whatever decision he makes, there will be people that will publicly disagree with him. Some people will criticise him if he charges Trump — viciously. And other people will criticise him if he doesn’t charge Trump — viciously. That’s just the nature of that job, as we’ve seen over the past 10 years. His job isn’t to please people but to do what he thinks is right.”
It may explain why Vance is being so painstaking by taking so much time on this case. He doesn’t want his investigation to become hung up on procedural errors. Any appearance of a mistake will be seized on by foes of the probe and they will try to turn the lens of legal scrutiny back on Vance — or anyone else but Trump.
Whatever the case, Mr. Vance should have our support. Justice delayed is not always justice denied. Sometimes it’s best to make sure you get it right the first time. But when you stop to consider that Donald Trump is a murderer, a rapist and a traitor, and that he might be brought down in the manner of Al Capone for something as ordinary as tax evasion, it becomes a crowning irony in a new decade positively brimming with them. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.