Civilization’s veneer is paper thin. William Golding showed us how thin in his novel Lord of the Flies. Given that thin veneer, it’s all the more astonishing that wild-eyed Americans aren’t storming the White House, tearing down its walls, and chasing Donald Trump and his posse of grifters down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Nevertheless, while the veneer is cracking, the center is holding. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter, Putin’s bounty on US soldiers, a Post Office scandal and virtual political conventions, “civilized” Americans are hanging on to the belief that their institutions are durable enough to withstand the swirling shit storm. They believe, we believe, November 3rd will bring America a new president (and Senate).
Last night a truly civilized American, Barack Obama, delivered an impassioned but somber address at the virtual Democratic Convention. He articulated his fear that democracy is in peril and asked the nation’s voters to defeat Donald Trump. Never before has a former president openly criticized his successor in such terms. He and the three other living ex-presidents agree; Donald Trump poses an existential threat to American democracy.
Today Steve Bannon, Trump’s “chief strategist,” the man largely responsible for the plan that got him elected, was arrested and indicted in federal court on criminal wire fraud and money laundering charges. Bannon is the sixth high level member of Trump’s cabinet or campaign organization to be charged with felony crimes. The others – Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen, and Roger Stone are already convicted felons.
I’ve said just about everything that can be said about Donald Trump – that he and his administration of grifters are crass, greedy, venal, petty, corrupt, sexist, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, ignorant, inarticulate, and unfit for office – and he himself is a sexual predator.
Now he’s trying to steal an election by vandalizing the United States Postal Service, eliminating street mailboxes, dismantling high-speed sorting machines, canceling overtime and putting in a hiring freeze. His lacky, million-dollar donor Postmaster General is very good at his job. He says he’ll stop dismantling the service until after the election, but today said he has no plans to replace the boxes and machines already taken. Today, the Seattle Times reported that he’s already removed 40% of Seattle’s sorting machines – machines that can sort up to 35,000 pieces of mail per hour.
Here’s the point: Donald J. Trump is the principal owner and titular head of a vast criminal enterprise comprised of 500+ business entities. He and his accomplices are using the US treasury as their private bank and self-dealing at an unprecedented level. I agree with Donny Deutsch, the branding expert and former friend of the president’s; the real play is the criminality of the Trump Organization writ large. The Mueller Report and congressional investigations are being swatted away like flies by Attorney General Barr and the White House counsel’s office.
Donald Trump, the Trump family, and the Trump Organization are fending off an avalanche of investigations. I have no doubt that when he leaves office he will be charged and found guilty of dozens of crimes. There are so many to choose from – money laundering, bank fraud, wire fraud, serial sexual predation, campaign finance violations, bribery, extortion, Mafia collusion, violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, 501C(3) charity violations… and obstruction of justice. Take your pick. My guess is 15–30 years for the financial crimes, 5-10 for obstruction of justice. Served consecutively not concurrently, it would all be over for The Donald—just as it was for Bernie Madoff.
Take note: In a wild spending spree between 2005 and 2015 the Trump Organization paid hundreds of millions in cash for golf courses in Scotland and Ireland, overseas hotels, and houses in Florida etc. He was broke at the time and reputable banks wouldn’t loan him a cent. Suddenly he was flush with cash from the wealth management arm of Deutsche Bank. We know DB was laundering Russian money at the time. It paid a $10 billion fine for it in 2017 and further fines and charges are pending.
In addition to obvious state and federal prosecutions, the Department of Justice, once William Barr is out of the way, should get down to business and charge the Trump Organization and its principles, including Ivanka, Don Jr., and Eric with violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as RICO–a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. For decades, in addition to its own crimes, the Trump Organization has been operating in partnership with Mafia groups, corrupt union bosses, and criminal enterprises overseas to build its empire.
Let’s finally put Donald Trump and the Trump Organization where they belong – in prison. Live by the sword, die by the sword.
I believe in playing by the rules. I know it isn’t perfect, but for 243 years the American system of government has withstood many internal and external challenges. I believe it’s the most democratic form of government though not the most efficient. I believe its institutions endeavor to deliver the fairest, most even-handed justice, though sometimes it fails to do so.
I believe in one-man one-vote, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to bear arms (limited), separation of church and state, equal protection of the laws, due process of law, and three independent branches of government. I don’t believe anyone, especially the president of the United States, is above the law or beyond its reach. We may not see justice served until Trump is defeated, but I believe American justice will provide him a fair trial when his reign of terror and greed is over.