For four years the world was terrorized by an inadequate, greedy, lazy, raping criminal. I believe, beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty, that Donald Trump belongs in prison. But will he go to prison?
Trump’s mounting legal woes are considerable, and the claim is that many in his inner circle are becoming increasingly alarmed by the day. The angst generated may be sufficient to inspire some of them to turn state’s evidence against Trump, as happened with the Trump organization former CFO Allen Weisselberg.
Of all the Trumpists who have finally turned against Trump, former Trump fixer and attorney Michael Cohen is the most prominent. To date Cohen has spoken with the Manhattan DA on eight occasions. Having read Cohen’s book, “Disloyal: A Memoir,” I have no doubt that the intelligence Cohen is able to bring to the DA will be devastating to Trump.
But the DA in question is Cyrus Vance, a man with possibly corrupt antecedents. While he did successfully prosecute Harvey Weinstein, he also dropped rape charges against French financier Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011 and declined to prosecute Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. over fraud allegations in 2012.
The good news is Vance will be stepping down at the end of the year. But will that be too late? If Vance manages to jail Trump between now and then the answer will be certainly not. If, on the other hand, the complexity and scope of the Trump inquiry is too great to be resolved by year’s end, the next DA will almost certainly take the case up with zeal. The worry is that Vance’s corruption may be exploited to Trump’s advantage in the interim. So at the end of the day the real question is can we trust Cy Vance to do the right thing? I hope so.
Meanwhile, Trump is being sued by dozens of people for varieties of reasons, including Summer Zervos. Zervos claimed in the weeks before the 2016 election that Trump groped and kissed her without her consent in 2007. In 2017, she sued Trump for defamation. E. Jean Carroll is suing Trump for defamation after he said she lied about an alleged rape. This case is particularly of interest because Trump is desperately fighting Carol’s attorney’s subpoena for his DNA in court. If Trump is not guilty of rape his DNA would exonerate him. That he doesn’t want to provide his allegedly exculpatory DNA is powerful evidence that Trump is a rapist.
But these are civil and not criminal cases, and while unfavorable judgments in civil court might put you in the poor house they certainly won’t put you in the big house. So while Vance and company are pursuing tax evasion, money laundering and pre-presidency crimes against Trump, what about the Department of Justice?
It remains unclear whether or not the DOJ intends to charge Trump with inciting the January sixth insurrection against the Capitol. But whether they do or not, there are a variety of other charges that they can take up, ranging from violations of the Constitution’s foreign and domestic emoluments clause, to espionage, to conspiracy to commit election fraud, to obstruction of justice, to bribery, to Conspiracy to defraud the United States, to campaign finance violations.
Curiously, Trump can also face charges of murder. This is an option that is open not just to the DOJ, but to any of the 50 state attorneys general, as well as any district attorney in the United States. As long as at least one of their citizens within their jurisdiction died of COVID, the option remains for any or all of them to charge Trump with anything from reckless endangerment to manslaughter or second or third degree murder. The pretext for these charges is that there exists sufficient evidence that Trump deliberately misled the American people about the dangers of COVID-19, and that his actions were negligent to the extent that as many as half a million Americans died.
What do I think? I think Trump should get a fair trial and that the evidence against him is prodigious. Indeed, the question for me is not whether he is guilty or not guilty of the myriad charges and potential charges, but, given the overwhelming evidence arrayed against him, whether it is even possible for him to be innocent.
But my belief is tempered by an unshakable confidence in the Constitutionally enshrined right of due process. If that right isn’t guaranteed for the worst of us — and Donald Trump is without a doubt one of the worst — then it is meaningless for the rest of us. So it’s not up to me whether or not Donald Trump goes to prison, it’s potentially up to 12 men and women somewhere out there, men and women who do not yet know who they are nor the responsibility they will face.
I cannot even give odds. There is no precedent for this upon which to base or compute any defensible probabilities. Of the 45 men who have served or are serving in the office of President of the United States, not one of them has ever been sent to prison for a crime they committed while in office, yet several of them should have been. The question remains, will Trump be the first? If not, then America is a long, long way from its stated ideal, that justice is equal under the law — for everyone. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.