Leftists are fantasizing about Donald Trump being arrested, booked, and put on trial. Well, they are fantasizing about that…again.
The New York State Attorney General’s investigation of the Trump Organization is now “no longer purely civil in nature,” Fabien Levy, the spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James, confirmed to Politico by email. “We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan D.A. We have no additional comment at this time.”
It is important for political observers, cowardly-lion Republicans, patriots, and activists to know what is happening here. More ammunition and detail are needed to arm the reader properly for this latest tempest in a teapot being sold as a hurricane.
Leftists are so enthusiastic about Trump’s imminent arrest that the government of Palm Beach County is making plans to arrest the former President at his Mar-a-Lago resort in high-society Palm Beach, Florida. According to Politico,
Law enforcement officials in Palm Beach County, Fla., have actively prepared for the possibility that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance could indict former President Donald Trump while he’s at Mar-a-Lago, according to two high-ranking county officials involved in planning sessions. Among the topics discussed in those meetings: how to handle the thorny extradition issues that could arise if an indictment moves forward.
Do sensible people think that local County officials sit around making plans for something that might happen and that others would handle? For crimes like these, an accused might turn himself in or show up in court.
If New York state issued an indictment, arresting Trump would require opening a case in Florida with its governor, Ron DeSantis, executing the indictment through the state’s police. The Palm Beach County government would not be involved. The Secret Service would handle surrounding events.
So why is Palm Beach exciting the media about something that is really none of its business? The magician distracts the audience by getting them to look over there.
Speaking as a political activist since 1984, this is a stunt aimed at the same failed tactic: The establishment tries to peel away Trump voters to get their support for the Mitt Romneys, Bob Doles, John McCains, Bushes, and so on. If Trump voters see him being hauled off in handcuffs, would the voters fall back in love with Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and John Kasich?
The establishment misses that the voters never liked the swamp creature Republicans in the first place. In 2008 and 2012, we stuck clothespins on our noses to make sure the Democrats didn’t win but they’d already lost us at “Read my lips: No new taxes.” Nevertheless, in 1994, the establishment ran independent candidate Marshall Coleman against Oliver North, the GOP nominee and choice of Republican voters, resulting in the election of Democrat Chuck Robb as Virginia’s U.S. Senator. We were mad before Trump.
As a criminal defense and constitutional attorney in Virginia and the federal court in the District of Columbia, I analyzed this in-depth with criminal defense consultant Norm Bradford for Thursday’s discussion on Action Radio (starting at 1:32). I passed the New York State bar out of law school although I did not end up practicing there. Here are the key points from that discussion:
First, New York is investigating “The Trump Organization” (“TTO”), a business, not Donald Trump, the individual. Companies can be charged with crimes.
Therefore, is Donald J. Trump going to be arrested? No.
Second, what does it mean that the investigation is now a “criminal” probe? Nothing. At most, it means that some people from different offices down the hall have been called in and asked “Well, what do you make of this?”
Third, will New York prosecutors indict The Trump Organization? Yes. Everything I hear says they’re crazy up there. New York’s legal system was woke before anyone knew the word. Because it is New York, where the grand jury and the petit (trial) jury are drawn from the mostly Democrat voters, and the prosecutors and judges are all soaked in just one political party, it is likely that they will indict TTO. No one can stop them.
Fourth, is this indictment dangerous? Probably not. There will be a trial that the prosecutors will lose at the end (which may be a year or two down the road).
Fifth, does it matter? No. Three words: Statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is one of the very few defenses that are objective and non-discretionary. A judge has no choice. Once the statute of limitations is invoked, the entire project comes to a screeching halt.
The rumors we have heard involve events in the 1990s. Although Trump did not set up a blind trust, in the summer of 2015, Trump turned TTO over to his children for them to run.
So, it has been almost six years now since Donald J. Trump even ran TTO. His children may want to review their actions, but what the Left wants is the former President in handcuffs. Expect more screaming at the sky as Leftists’ unrealistic hopes are dashed once again.
Sixth, could Trump’s lawyers screw this up? Yes. Everything here assumes that Trump’s lawyers respond effectively.
Trump’s lawyers should have motions to quash any indictment already written and in their briefcases. Anywhere they are in New York or the country, they should be able to file a motion to quash within an hour…before there is time for Democrats to spin up talks about arresting him.
Seventh, unlike Obama’s Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Trump does not do his own taxes. If anything was amiss, the fault lies with attorneys, accountants, real estate appraisers, financial advisors, etc. Because it is their job to tell Trump and TTO what can and cannot be done, they would be the ones at fault. Even if Trump said to do it, it is their actual legal responsibility to say no, you may not do that.
Eighth, did TTO do anything wrong? No.
The rumors are from former attorney Michel Cohen, who claimed that TTO valued real estate too high for the purpose of getting loans but too low for the purpose of paying taxes.
Governments have Tax Assessors. They don’t listen to your opinion about what you think your real estate is worth. There is a process for disputing a tax assessment. That makes it even more clear that it is up to the government to decide.
Similarly, nobody loans money on real estate without ordering an independent appraisal from a licensed appraiser. A lender who does not order its own independent appraisal is grossly reckless.
In the law, fraud cannot be fraud unless the accused made a knowingly false statement intending that someone rely upon it, that the person (or entity) did rely on it, and that this reliance was reasonable. If Donald Trump says, “This is the most beautiful high-rise in Manhattan,” that is purely an opinion. If I say that my townhouse is worth its weight in platinum, no reasonable person would believe that and therefore (a) it is not intended to be relied upon and (b) it would be unreasonable for anyone to rely upon that statement. These are clear-cut legal principles. Any case against TTO will lose in the end.
At the end of the day, we’re witnessing leftist and NeverTrump grandstanding. Trump should be prepared to fight back hard but, ultimately, none of this is serious.