The noose is tightening around the neck of Donald Trump, suspected of serious fraud when he ran his real estate corporation, the Trump Organization. And his problems do not end there.
Recent days have brought revelations incriminating the former president, overlapping with his problems related to the investigation into the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 last year, which was supposed to invalidate the result of the 2020 election won by Joe Biden. The decisive conclusion of the legal investigations is still a long way off, but signs are multiplying that they will undermine Donald Trump’s chances of returning to the White House in 2024.
Accounting Firm Cuts Ties with Trump — He’s in Trouble
On Monday, Mazars’ accounting office notified New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is leading the case against the former president, that the company’s 10-year reports were based on false data and therefore could not be relied on. The accountants from Mazars announced that they were cutting ties with Trump — most likely to avoid being accused of complicity in a crime. The revelations in the letter from Mazars to prosecutor James confirm her allegations that Trump exaggerated the value of his corporation’s assets in order to obtain loans from banks, and on the other hand, understated their value in his tax returns to pay lower taxes.
In addition to James’ civil probe, a parallel criminal probe regarding the same abuses is being pursued against the Trump Organization by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump’s attorneys stated that in light of what the Mazars letter disclosed, the criminal accusation against the former president was “unjustified,” but the experts saw that as obvious nonsense. Further evidence of fraud can be expected — Mazars announced an internal investigation into Trump’s financial practices and prosecutors will be able to see its findings. New York State law does not recognize the principle of confidentiality between accounting offices and their clients.
Donald Trump in Wonderland
New York judge Arthur Engoron ruled on Thursday that Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump, as well as his older son, Donald Trump Jr., must respond to Attorney James’ subpoena and testify under oath. The former president and his family refused, citing executive privilege. The judge’s decision was met with fierce protests from Trump’s attorneys, who were present in the courtroom. Defense attorney Alina Habba accused the prosecutors of going after him solely for political reasons. “The only reason she [Letitia James] is doing this is because he is a former president, and on the other side of the fence,” Habba said. Attorney Ron Fischetti announced the appeal.
Trump himself has said that the investigation against him is the continuation of the greatest “witch hunt” in history. Judge Engoron replied that the arguments of the former president’s attorneys are reminiscent of the demagogy of lies present in the dystopian “1984” by George Orwell as well as the plays on the truth in “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll.
Innocent People Don’t Take the Fifth Amendment
Judge Engoron ordered Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. to submit to questioning within 21 days. According to the experts, they’re faced with a difficult choice. Testifying under oath means that the former president or his children will provide prosecutors with incriminating evidence, or, if they lie, they will risk being charged with perjury. They could also take advantage of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution and refuse to answer — thereby silently confirming the accusations made against them. During his 2016 campaign, Trump himself said: “The mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
This statement was in reference to the allegations made against his then-election opponent Hillary Clinton and her associates in the Democratic Party. That’s how they refused to testify about the accusations that the former Secretary of State was using a private server for business email correspondence, which could have risked classified information falling into the wrong hands. The right has recently resumed propaganda attacks against Clinton, accusing her of spying on Trump before the election to gather evidence that he had colluded with Russia. This campaign is clearly designed to divert attention from the legal problems of the former president. It is funny that even one of Trump’s own attorneys participated in it — he recalled the charges against Clinton in the court hearing regarding the fraud case in Trump’s corporation.
Biden Treats Trump Cautiously
Meanwhile, a special committee in the House of Representatives, investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, is considering calling Ivanka Trump to testify on the matter. The daughter of the former president was his closest adviser in the White House and was aware of his personal role in inciting the crowd to attack the Capitol. In the event of a subpoena, she’ll probably plead the Fifth. But the commission has already gathered enough evidence from other sources that Trump and his associates organized the rebellion to stay in power illegally and by force. For example, there is evidence that he supported suggestions that the military should burst into polling stations and confiscate the voting booths.
The House committee may ask Attorney General Merrick Garland to formally charge the suspects with an attempted coup to prevent a peaceful transfer of power. Garland is unlikely to do so because Biden’s administration fears accusations of political motives in prosecuting Trump and his associates. In the Republican Party, the majority of voters still consider Trump their leader and even believe in the false idea that his victory was stolen.
GOP Slowly Turns away from Trump
On the other hand, Trump’s escalating problems with the law are increasingly detrimental to him and may weaken him over time. It is believed that the case of civil malpractice against his corporation could extend into 2024 — when he will again seek the nomination for the White House. Trump’s possible indictment and even a conviction would not necessarily ruin him financially — his allies will certainly help — but it would definitely weaken his political position.
In the GOP, mainstream Republicans are quietly trying to undermine Trump, understanding that his insistence on declaring the 2020 election rigged is destructive for the party. Republicans have a great chance of regaining the majority in both houses of Congress but the constant reminder of Trump’s claims is harmful because it distracts them from current problems.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell discreetly supports the candidates opposed to Trump in this year’s congressional election. Also, like other GOP politicians, he is likely to support Trump’s potential rivals for the 2024 presidential nomination, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence, now in fierce conflict with his former boss.