Friday, September 30

Trump’s legal problems worsen with the new lawsuit in New York: “It’s finished”

The danger to Donald Trump from his legal troubles has become insurmountable and could end the former US president’s hopes of winning the election again, according to political analysts and legal experts.

Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s mansion, golf club and spy magnet

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This Wednesday, Trump and three of his adult children were accused of lying to tax collectors, lenders and insurers in an alleged “staggering” fraud that misrepresented the value of their properties to enrich themselves.

The civil lawsuit, filed by the New York attorney general, comes at the same time as the FBI investigation into Trump’s possession of sensitive government documents at his Mar-a-Lago mansion in Florida and as a special grand jury in Georgia is studying whether he and others tried to influence the state’s poll workers after his loss in that territory to Joe Biden.

The former US president has repeatedly hinted that he intends to run for president again in 2024. But the cascade of criminal, civil and congressional investigations could derail his candidacy.

“He is finished,” says Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University in Washington, whose presidential election predictions have not failed since 1984. “He has too many ballasts, too many burdens to run again, even assuming he gets off jail and bankruptcy. I’m not sure he’s going to get out of jail though.”

“The art of theft”

After a three-year investigation, Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, alleges that Trump provided fraudulent declarations of his wealth and false asset valuations to obtain and satisfy loans, obtain insurance benefits and pay less taxes. His children Don Jr, Ivanka and Eric were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

In a press conference, James referred to the title from the book published by Trump in 1987 about their experiences and their way of doing business, The Art of the Deal [El arte de la negociación]. “This investigation has revealed that Donald Trump engaged in years of illegal conduct to inflate his net worth, to deceive banks and the people of the great state of New York. Claiming you have money you don’t is not the ‘art of negotiation,’ it is the art of theft,” he said.

His office has called for the former president to pay at least $250 million in penalties and for his family to be barred from conducting business in the state. James cannot bring criminal charges against Trump in this civil investigation, but he has said that he is referring criminal fraud allegations to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, as well as to the Internal Revenue Service.

collapse of the empire

Trump has repeated his usual defense that the lawsuit is “another witch hunt” against him and has again referred to James, who is African American, as a racist, through his Truth Social platform, calling her “a fraud who campaigned with a program under the slogan of ‘get Trump’ despite the fact that the city is one of the world centers of crime and murder under his gaze!”

But critics contend the lawsuit strikes at the heart of Trump’s image as a successful billionaire real estate developer who has hosted the reality show show ‘The Apprentice’ and has promised to apply that business acumen to the presidency.

Laurence Tribe, a Harvard University constitutional law professor, says the civil component “involves things of particular importance to Trump, his family and his organization, primarily his ability to defraud citizens, to defraud banks, to defraud insurance companies and to continue subsisting through corruption. Without all that corruption, the entire Trump empire is in something of a meltdown.”

“Trump is probably more concerned with things like this than having to put on an orange jumpsuit and maybe face a criminal charge…As a practical matter, this is probably going to give Mr. Trump more sleepless nights than just about any something else,” he adds.

More investigations

No previous former president has faced to so many and so serious investigations. Last month, FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago and seized official documents marked top secret, secret and confidential. Trump faces possible indictment for violating the Espionage Act, obstructing a federal investigation and mishandling sensitive government records.

As so many times throughout his business career, Trump has tried to stymie the legal gear. He bought time by convincing a court to appoint a judge, Raymond Dearie, as an independent expert to review the documents. But so far dearie seems to be far from being a man who says yes to everything.

The former president also faces a state grand jury investigation in Georgia into attempts to reverse that state’s 2020 election result.

The Department of Justice is investigating his role in the assault on the United States Capitol by a mob of his supporters who sought to prevent the certification of Biden’s electoral victory. His work has been boosted by a parallel investigation by a House committee whose hearings will resume next week.

In addition, the Trump Organization – which manages hotels, golf courses and other properties around the world – is set to stand trial next month in a criminal case alleging that it engineered the granting of untaxed benefits to high-ranking officials, including his former CFO Allen Weisselberg, who single-handedly walked away with more than $1.7 million in bonuses.

Trump unmasked

On Wednesday, in yet another setback, possibly Trump’s worst day of legal defeats, a federal appeals court allowed the Justice Department to resume its review of classified records seized at Mar-a-Lago as part of its criminal investigation.

For his part, the former president insisted that he did nothing wrong by withholding the documents. “There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it,” he told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, ‘he’s declassified.'” “Even thinking about it, because you send it to Mar-a-Lago or wherever you send it […] There may be a process, but there doesn’t have to be.

Through it all, Trump has been laying the groundwork for a potential comeback campaign and has accused the Biden Administration of targeting him to undermine his political prospects.

Asked by a conservative radio host about what would happen if he were indicted over the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, Trump responded: “I think we would have problems in this country like maybe we’ve never seen before. I don’t think the people of the United States would put up with it.”

Kurt Bardella, an adviser to the Democratic National Committee, said: “If the best defense you have for your conduct is: If I am held accountable, there will be violence, that sounds like someone who has no business either in public service or outside of the jail”.

Bardella expressed hope that Trump will finally be held accountable. “Everything related to Donald Trump has always had to do with the scam. He has always been about the scam. And now his unmasking is drawing near.”

Translated by Lara Lema

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