The country cannot survive the stress and embarrassment of a trial.
For the president to stand in the dock like a common thief would be a grave moral and legal wound.
The president should do the right thing.
I’ve heard all this before.
I don’t have to recount the details. I heard it, Jerry Ford heard it, and together we did what was necessary for the sake of the country.
Now we hear that Trump will likely stand trial in Manhattan Supreme Court this fall, related to allegations that his “Trump University” was a fraud on the level of snake oil, Bile Beans, or Mrs. Moffat’s Shoo-Fly Powder for Drunkenness.
It was a hell of a scheme. Offer free lunch in a hotel ballroom and push packages of real estate investment tips: “Elite,” “Trump Gold Elite,” that sort of thing. The names sound like slot machine vouchers, but no matter. “Just copy what I’ve done,” Trump said in a commercial, “and get rich.”
It was a thousand bucks to get in, and $35,000 at the top. But suckers—or students, if you like—say it was the same at every level: gloss and bullet points from the self-improvement section of your local library, with the prospect of in-person coaching from Trump if you shelled out more cash.
Trump did show up—as a cardboard cutout. They let the big spenders take Polaroids with it.
Real estate tips are like magic beans: with luck, elbow grease, and a weak conscience, you might make them grow. But Trump almost guaranteed results, and his people coerced, browbeat, and intimidated the rubes—I beg your pardon, students—into giving the course high marks.
It’s almost as though Trump’s lawyers foresaw a problem.
Meanwhile, the so-called Cruz-Kasich alliance, meant to cover the fact that they can barely scrape together the pennies for a box social, fell apart quicker than the Treaty of Versailles. A Trump loss in Indiana on Tuesday would finally guarantee a contested convention. But a win there, along with a narrow victory in California, where Cruz and Kasich block each other from forming coalitions, will push him over the top.
So the presumptive Republican presidential nominee—yes, I said it—may face a jury trial for fraud in Manhattan, where he’s hated, in the middle of general election season.
Trump’s people will say it’s the government trying to quash the revolution, and the press will play it up as a sideshow. “Unprecedented.” “Surreal.” “The ultimate spectacle in a year full of them.” My God, I could write the story in my sleep.
Much is made of Trump as a bigot, woman hater, huckster, or television personality. But he’s also a gangster. Not Al Capone or Bugsy Siegel; they understood that alliances shape the world, and how to use them for survival. No, for all his talk about deal making, Trump is the thug who breaks the bartender’s nose if he can’t pay protection money.
As he said at the Nixon Center on Wednesday—for all they rub my nose in it, I’ll be damned if I call it the “Center for the National Interest”—Trump’s foreign policy starts with extorting our allies. If Germany or Japan won’t pony up for American troops, for example, Trump will tear up our defense commitments in the name of saving money. This will lead to new nuclear states and world realignment away from us.
It also throws open the door for Russia to march into Eastern Europe and China to gobble up islands in the South China Sea. In Russia’s case Trump doesn’t give a damn, as long as he gets Putin’s help against the Islamic State. As for China, Trump can’t see past trade. A 45% tariff will show them who’s boss, he says; peace is tied to the purse strings.
But China will surely let America trade cheap. With Japan defenseless and the U.S. Navy sitting on its butt in Hawaii, the Chinese will have bigger fish to fry.
If the Attorney General gives Trump hell, why shouldn’t Putin take a step into the Polish frontier? I can hear Trump on the courthouse steps: Vladimir is a very, very good friend of mine. He is a wonderful guy, and we will work together. You just wait.
Or what if the Chinese devalue their currency before the jury goes out? We have economic power over China. No one else understands that, but I do. I do. We are going to hit them so hard on this. You just wait.
You put your faith in women, blacks, and Hispanics—the ballot box or a jury—to keep Trump out. That may be so, especially with the “woman card” nonsense he’s playing now. The balloon-blowers and bell-ringers hate Clinton more than they love anybody on the Republican side, so it’s just the thing to shore up Trump’s support going into the summer. But in the general it will turn out housewives and grandmothers against him, everybody who’s too poor, busy, or disillusioned to play in the primaries.
It’s an abomination for a candidate to be hauled into the stocks. For China and Russia, though, it’s an opportunity. Trump’s presidency will let them muscle America into the cellar and starve us to death.
There’s a way out, of course. Fall on your sword. Have a heart attack. Resign.
But Trump wanted a jury trial. As always, the chance of a cheap public win means everything to him—screw the eventual consequences.
Some of us put the country’s security ahead of ourselves. We prefer an honorable end to hearing the hammer fall like a highwayman.
But like I said, I don’t have to recount the details.