Ralph Nader: Some Of Trump’s Brazen Violations Of Laws Moving To Courts – OpEd
By Ralph Nader
If there was a giant composite lawsuit against Donald J. Trump, for his over forty years of recurring criminal and civil violations, (while a corporate boss and politician) the only recourse for his lawyers would be to plead the insanity defense.
Until this week, in a New York State Supreme Court based in Manhattan, Trump has gotten away with all his serial crimes and torts. He has eluded the “sheriffs” by blatant intimidation, threats, lies on steroids, shifting the blame onto others, gag order settlements, and threats to wear down any private plaintiff or government prosecutors with draining litigation and personal vitriol, widely publicized by a ratings-obsessed media.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston has written three books on Trump over 35 years of watching closely Donald’s moves. He documented Trump’s alleged criminal operations in the construction of his hotels, gambling casinos and tax escapes, but prosecutors were not interested. Their staff resources were not up to the burdens of bringing a case against Trump and dealing with his publicized slanders and phony countercharges.
In one instance, “Trump, Inc.” hired hundreds of undocumented Polish workers to dismantle a major building in New York to make way for Trump’s hotel. These exploited workers, exposed to numerous hazards at a toxic demolition worksite, had to sue Trump to get all the pay they earned. Trump settled the case and escaped prosecution for his violations.
His business and political careers have consisted of winning by intimidation, and a staggering volume of lies and falsifications encased in egomaniacal delusions and illusions, catered to a sensationalizing press that rewarded him with headlines, invitations to appear on national talk shows, and uncritical reporting of his lies. Year after year, he got press attention by asserting Barack Obama was foreign-born. He falsely charged public figures as likely murderers of specific people. He got away with these antics, along with bragging publicly that the media needed him to boost profits.
Such notoriety propelled Trump into his role on The Apprentice, a profitable NBC show that helped him to create what he called “his base.”
Feeling that he was invincible, recall his saying “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” He stunned his 17 Republican primary opponents by sucking the mass media coverage out of them, leaving them with widely publicized nicknames such as Lying Ted (Cruz) or Little Marco (Rubio) and Low-Energy Jeb (Bush).
Greedy Donald read the Greedy Media like no one ever has. Although he received 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton in 2016, he was selected President by the anti-democratic antiquated Electoral College.
As President, he learned that he could be more lawless than ever – brazenly, openly, defiantly, repeatedly – and get away with it. He learned from Bill Clinton that extra-marital affairs were not a political liability. He learned from George W. Bush that presidents could order unlawful armed forces anywhere, killing civilians and destroying societies, and get away with it. As a certified bully, Donald liked that license.
Then he learned from Barack Obama that Wall Street’s shenanigans could collapse the economy, un-employ 8 million workers and be bailed out by the American taxpayers without prosecution of the culpable Wall Streeters who profitably speculated and looted other people’s money.
Trump’s White House became a daily crime scene. His former National Security Advisor, John Bolton, wrote in his memoir that “Obstruction of justice was a way of life in the White House.” The Mueller Report described ten obstructions of justice by Trump. These are serious crimes blocking or obstructing law enforcement. His then Attorney General, William Barr, redacted and shelved Mueller’s report.
The Trump White House and his lawless administration (1) ignored the rule of law as they flouted over 150 Congressional subpoenas, (2) illegally shuffled around large congressionally prohibited appropriations to suit Trump’s fancy and (3) used federal property – the White House and the Treasury Department – against his electoral opponents. These were only three criminal violations of federal laws – the Hatch Act, the Anti-Deficiency Act, and the sneering violation of hundreds of congressional subpoenas. But he was protected by his Attorney General, who relied on a prior dubious DOJ memo that arbitrarily declared that a sitting president could not be indicted for a crime.
He eviscerated his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws by firing law enforcers and shutting down the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and much of the EPA while raking in millions of campaign contributions from the corporations regulated by these agencies.
Trump mocked the law, the Constitution, and the ethical norms rooted in historically expected behavior from Presidents. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler documented about 35,000 lies and misleading claims personally asserted by Trump during his presidency. (See: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/01/24/trumps-false-or-misleading-claims-total-30573-over-four-years/). To Trump’s uncritical supporters, these lies created a false world, that although disconnected from reality induced indiscriminate loyalty from his base. That’s why dictators use lies and propaganda to command unquestioning obeisance. (See, Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lawbreaking and Lies Betray All by Mark Green and Ralph Nader, 2020).
To protect Trump’s fragile giant ego, he needs to believe most of his lies. These lies fortify Trump’s frequent sayings that he “has done nothing wrong” and that he is a “very stable genius.”
As if there remains any doubt that Trump sees himself as uncontrolled by external laws, consider his anarchic declaration in July 2019: “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.” Really? Is that why our Founders, to eliminate any future prospect of someone like King George III, placed the strongest powers in our Congress, and not the Presidency?
In fact, Trump proved before and after his 2019 declaration that he is above the Constitution and the law, right up to his insurrectional belief that any election he loses has to have been stolen. As a serial violator of the Constitution – see the list of our 12 impeachable offenses that were inserted in the Congressional Record of December 18, 2019 [H 12197] – Trump was enabled by a weak, insecure Democratic Party and now by the ultra-inhibited Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Several of Trump’s offenses directly violate criminal statutes. However, Garland keeps saying no one is above the law. Well, let’s see, more than halfway through Biden’s term, Garland has dispensed with all but two of Trump’s offenses. These two are Trump’s January 6th insurrection and his obstructions relating to him illicitly taking away highly classified documents upon leaving the White House in January 2021. All the other crimes committed by Trump that are publicly known as well as others known only to the Justice Departments (e.g., tax violations, misuse of pardons, emoluments from foreign agents) – have been left for the historians to judge, not the courts.
Out of this adult lifetime of placing the rule of man (Trump) over the rule of law, there are only four criminal investigations underway (including Georgia and New York prosecutions).
Following the indictment, lengthy trial dates and appeals could consume four years or more absent any plea deal, which is unlikely. By then there could be a Republican in the White House.
The Trumpian Defiance of the laws of the land continues. He should teach a course at a law school about his peerless expertise in daily defying of laws on the way to becoming a billionaire and President of the United States. Chasing myths out of law schools could be a backhanded contribution to law students’ education.