All You Stormy Daniels Fans, Relax.
Simmer down, folks. He doesn't see jail time...for this one anyway.
Lots to talk about this week, and I am forced by the Snarky Writer's International Code of Ethics, to say something about, wait for it, yes, Donald Trump, the Marley's ghost of American politics.
In a week that included rants that, were he not a noted anti-semite, one would have to label as completely meshuga. In one he practically labeled rival Florida Governor Ron DeSantis a pedophile or groomer, along with implied gay possibilities. And what is with the loopy "Ron Desanctimonious" nickname? I understand he feels compelled by something, vacuousness perhaps, to come up with these 4th grade schoolyard epithets, but this one makes no sense. Eventually he'll devolve to calling someone a "poopy head" and taking their lunch money.
Then there was the one this week that was about as subtle as a mineshaft cave-in. There is a Housing and Urban Development plan to have communities identify “how HUD funds can be used to promote equity, overcome patterns of segregation, and increase access to opportunity and community assets for underserved communities." But the former President, and that is a hard phrase to type, declared that a "war on the suburbs." It included this gem...
"They will use the power of the federal government to abolish zoning for single family homes, destroy your property values by building giant multifamily apartment complexes in the suburbs— and even next to your house—and force your community to pay for low-income housing developments right next door.
The woke left is waging full scale war on the suburbs, and their Marxist crusade is coming for your neighborhood, your tax dollars, your public safety, and your home. When I get back into the Oval Office, one of my first acts will be to repeal Joe Biden’s radical left attack on the suburban lifestyle."
I can offer an English translation for those who are not Trump-lingual. Suburbs means white. Apartments means black. This, as always, understated appeal to his more melanin-deprived base, will no doubt make it harder for reasonable Republicans to attract minorities to the party. Oh yes, there are some left and I like the ones I know and even agree with them sometimes. But it must be nerve-wracking knowing there is a glass case waiting for a "Reasonable Republican" in the extinct mammals exhibit at the Smithsonian.
But now to the main event in Trump World this week, and this is where I part company with my optimistic brethren and sisteren. The Stormy Daniels thing - hard to call something so short an affair - I think can be beat. Now, don't get me wrong. The idea that this guy had a fling with a Playboy model, Karen McDougal and a quickie with Porn star Stormy Daniels all while his former model wife is home with a newborn, is as tawdry as it gets. Add in the Access Hollywood tape and it's apparent that a large voting block really hated Hillary Clinton enough to vote in this corpulent Lothario.
And like any guy caught in flagrante delicto, he paid a weasely attorney on his staff to pay Daniels off for her silence. And frankly, given the unfortunate details Ms. Daniels gave in her description of him and the event itself, hell, I'd want her to keep it to herself, too.
A major campaign supporter, the publisher of the National Enquirer, David Pecker (I'm not kidding) paid Ms. McDougal $150,000 for her story and it promptly disappeared into the ether. It was investigated but not found to be an illegal campaign contribution, irrespective of the fact that is obviously was.
Now, here is where I part company with the general consensus. I think the case is pretty thin gruel, no matter how increasingly racist and nasty his tweets have become, and of the 3 or 4 investigations into America's elephantine ex-President, I think it's the weakest and most difficult to prosecute. That's because hush money isn't illegal, firstly. And so the only illegality is a matter of how the money to said shady legal eagle, Michael Cohen, was recorded on the books. Now, understand, Donald Trump has never had a problem playing fast and loose with the tax code. In fact, a far stronger case was brought and won against the Trump Organization charging it, and Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, with tax and bank fraud.
There were two grand juries and a subsequent trial, where Weisselberg testified against his own company about bogus consulting fees paid to noted business guru Ivanka Trump, inflated property values for insurance purposes and deflated values on the same property for the IRS. At trial, the company and Weisselberg, were convicted on all 17 charges, fined $1.6 million and Weisselberg got some jail time after a plea agreement.
Trump has never had a problem treating the tax code like his golf scorecard. He even cheated family members out of his father's inheritance, and had his charity dissolved by the courts because it was anything but charitable. But the Manhattan DA did not include him in the fraud case and some attorneys in the DA's office resigned over it.
The current Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg returned to the hush money affair and the potential illegality of claiming Cohen's reimbursement for the $130,000 to Ms. Daniels as a legal expense to hide the nature of the payment. Obviously the only legal work involved telling her, "Here's a check. Keep it under your hat."
So it comes down to a tax matter, essentially and what Trump's intentions were, other than hiding the truth about his seedy nature, a horse that left the barn awhile back. Cohen claims his payments on Trump's behalf were illegal campaign contributions, coming as it did just days before the 2016 election. So, did Trump hide the nature of the reimbursement on his taxes, and did Cohen make an illegal contribution? You could find both answers to be yes, and get off with a fine. Everyone who is waiting anxiously to see Trump in a figure-flattering orange jumpsuit are dreaming.
Proving Trump intended to commit a crime may be one of Bragg's biggest challenges, said Jennifer Beidel, a partner at law firm Saul Ewing and former federal prosecutor.
"One would think that the former president would try to argue that people independent of him were making their own choices about what to do, maybe out of motivation to please him, but maybe not with his direction," Beidel said.
Knowing all that, I can't get too energized about the possibilities on this, despite the fact that Trump has tweeted about his impending arrest and called for protests. Well, there's been no indictment, and as I write this late on Tuesday, there was no arrest. No doubt though, some of the booboisies will grab their MAGA hats and AR's and head to Mar a Lago or New York, or wherever to free the king.
And believe me, as much as I find Trump a burning sack of guano left on America's front porch, I think he has much bigger worries elsewhere. He is on tape trying to overturn the presidential vote in Georgia and is now being investigated for it. And the Attorney General has appointed a special counsel, Jack Smith, a name Trump may have registered under during the Stormy Daniels assignation, to investigate his role in the January 6th insurrection and the withholding of top secret documents.
Yeah, I know they found some at Biden-connected locations, including his garage. But it was a relative handful and were handed over immediately, and there will be a special counsel investigation into that, too. But Donald Trump had over 300 top secret documents, claimed he had a right to them, and stymied the feds every step of the way as they tried to get them back.
And as for January 6th, well, I think we know how that one may go. So for all those who have high hopes that the former Prez will be checking into the Rikers Island Hilton anytime soon, have a drink and relax.
Even if convicted, he'll get a fine and slap on the wrist and you can look forward to the Netflix version according to Stormy. I'm thinking Bryan Cranston for the lead? Or if the producers are really gutsy, the sublime irony of Kevin Spacey.
Now, he is part of the Texas Outlaw Writers, and if this doesn't pan out, the outlaw part will still work as he will indeed resort to robbing banks.