(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
In a powerful scene in the movie ‘Philadelphia’ Denzel Washington’s character, the lawyer for Tom Hanks’s character, a brilliant gay lawyer with Aids who has been fired by the homophobic directors of his law firm, is being harassed by an equally homophobic colleague. When asked, in a rather vulgar way, why he took Hanks’s anti-discrimination suit, Denzel answers ‘because they broke the law,’ followed by ‘you remember the law, don’t you?’ It’s a line Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg could have used when asked why he had a Grand Jury indict Donald Trump for falsifying business records to cover up violations of election laws. New York City is the financial capital of the world, and shady businesspeople get indicted there for falsifying records all the time, so why not Trump, especially because Trump’s former lawyer already went to jail for some of these crimes, committed on Trump’s orders? According to Trump’s fascist following it is a political prosecution and the charges will eventually be dropped, although the District Attorney made perfectly clear that that’s not the case, but in the end it really doesn’t matter.
The importance of the indictment consists in the simple fact that it happened. It lifts the informal taboo on indicting a former president and opens the door for the avalanche of indictments that will hit Trump in the near future, the next probably for his attempts to have the Georgia election results falsified or annulled, followed by indictments in DC for stealing presidential records when he left the White House and obstructing justice when he received a subpoena to return the stolen documents, and culminating in a potential indictment for staging an insurrection on January 6th, 2021. The Georgia indictment has already been filed by a Grand Jury in Fulton County, but the exact charges have to be formulated by a second Grand Jury. In Georgia Trump asked the Secretary of State to ‘find him’ the 11,800 votes he needed to win the election, and when that didn’t work he asked the Speaker of the Georgia House to call a special session and rescind the election results. Both requests we made by phone and recorded, so that prosecutors won’t have any problem proving Trump’s guilt.
At Mar-a-Lago Trump kept a truckload of documents he took from the White House that by law should have been handled as government property. When the National Archives became aware of the location of those documents their return to DC was requested. Initially only a small selection was turned over, and when the Archives found out that there were still documents at Trump’s Florida bordello a subpoena was issued for their return. That resulted in Trump going through the boxes and deciding which documents he still wanted to keep and the release of the remainder, accompanied by a statement written by one of Trump’s lawyers but signed by another lawyer that no government property was left at Mar-a-Lago. The FBI, however, had information to the contrary, so a search was conducted that yielded many more, often classified, documents, some found in Trump’s office. The investigation of this matter by Special Counsel Jack Smith has been focused on whether the lawyer who wrote the false statement but refused to sign it initially acted on Trump’s instructions. That lawyer has already testified in front of Smith’s Grand Jury, and if his answer to that question was affirmative Trump could be charged with Obstruction of Justice.
Trump’s role leading up to and in the events of January 6, 2021, is the big one. The J6 Special Committee has revealed many details of the insurrection, including how Trump urged the mob to march onto the Capitol and for the longest time didn’t do anything to stop the violence that threatened the lives of Vice-President Pence and Speaker Pelosi. But Jack Smith’s investigation focuses on the questions whether Trump was fully aware of the fact that he had lost the election and how involved he was in the planning of the coup attempt. In this case Trump has recently had serious setbacks. His former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, who was a spider in the web of the insurrection, has been forced to testify to Smith’s Grand Jury, as has Mike Pence, who knows better than anybody else what Trump’s state of mind and intentions were after having been harassed by Trump for weeks in an attempt to keep him from certifying the election results. Meadows will most likely plead the Fifth, as he is facing prosecution for his role, but Pence will testify with only some irrelevant restrictions, and in the end Trump could be charged with Incitement to Insurrection.
Throughout his adult life, Trump has been a Houdini in legal matters, sometimes settling cases and taking some losses but mostly stretching civil procedures against his businesses to the point where complainants became financially strained or statutes of limitation were reached. But in Manhattan he is facing his first criminal indictment, and with three more indictments following, each with a heavier penalty attached, it is hard to see how he keeps his head clear. A complicating factor for Trump is that in the Georgia election interference case and in the DC insurrection case there are co-conspirators, like Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and Mark Meadows, who will also be charged and may decide to spill the beans on Trump in exchange for immunity or a relatively mild sentence. Adding to Trump’s woes is a defamation case filed by the writer E. Jean Carroll, who claims that Trump raped her in the dressing room of a department store and who kept the dress with his semen on it as proof. Another woman who claims to have been raped by Trump has been allowed to testify in that case, which will go to trial in Manhattan on April 25th. The mix of Stormy Daniels and these two women may explain why Melania has not been spotted in public recently.
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