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September 22 2022 Trump Family Crime Syndicate Faces a Reckoning

     Like Al Capone and so many other crime lords, Trump now faces the very real possibility of federal charges which would stop him from ever becoming President again, and his whole Trump Family crime syndicate may lose their empire of lies and illusions, and all of their wealth and property along with the right to vote, along with him.

    There is no public act which would do more to restore the trust and faith of the people in the idea of America and her systems and structures of institutional democracy than this, the purging of the Trumps from among us and the totalization and seizure of all their wealth and power.

     I believe the natural consequence of treason is the revocation of citizenship and exile, and the public erasure and forgetting the Romans called damnatio memoriae.

     As I wrote in my post of January 9 2022, How Shall We Answer Treason?;     Disloyalty and the betrayal of trust are among the worst and most terrible of true crimes, for they signify and represent the failure and collapse of all other values and meaning. This is why Solidarity as Fraternity is among the three principles on which the Revolution is built, along with Liberty and Equality, for without them there can be no free society of equals.

     A brilliant Meidas Touch video which indicts Trump as a domestic terrorist for the January 6 Insurrection provoked me to question, How shall we answer treason? So wrote the following in reply:

     Actually, I would like to see Trump achieve his true nature by being fed to dogs and transformed into dog shit. Wouldn’t it be a lovely display in a glass case exhibited in a museum of holocausts, atrocities, and crimes against humanity? Let his monument read thus:

     Here lies Our Clown of Terror, Traitor Trump, in his true form, most terrible enemy democracy has faced since Alcibiades betrayed Athens, most dangerous foreign agent to ever attack America even including Pearl Harbor and the Twin Towers, who subverted our ideals and sabotaged our institutions, and nearly enacted the fall of civilization as the figurehead of the Fourth Reich and herald of an age of fascist tyranny and state terror.

     Yet here he lies, nothing but a pile of dog shit. Look upon the rewards of tyranny, you who are mighty, and despair.

     For we are many, we are watching, and we are the future.

     We can but wish. Beyond such fantasies, exclusion is a just balance for crimes of treason, disloyalty, and betrayal, in the forms of loss of citizenship, the most terrible punishment any nation can inflict, and exile and erasure.

    To be clear, all participants in the January 6 Insurrection, and all who conspired in this crime, had knowledge aforehand but did not sound an alarm,  or acted subsequently to conceal, abet, or deny and excuse its perpetrators and its nature including all legislators who voted not to investigate it, bear responsibility in its crimes and should be repaid with loss of citizenship, exile, and erasure. 

     Exile as the natural consequence of treason was explored in the short story “The Man Without a Country” by Edward Everett Hale, first published in The Atlantic in December 1863.  It is a story of a traitor who comes to understand the true meaning of his crime; the renunciation of his social contract, connection and interdependence with other human beings, and membership in a national identity.

     As described in Wikipedia; “It is the story of American Army lieutenant Philip Nolan, who renounces his country during a trial for treason, and is consequently sentenced to spend the rest of his days at sea without so much as a word of news about the United States.

    The protagonist is a young US Army lieutenant, Philip Nolan, who develops a friendship with the visiting Aaron Burr. When Burr is tried for treason (that historically occurred in 1807), Nolan is tried as an accomplice. During his testimony, he bitterly renounces his nation and, with a foul oath, angrily shouts, “I wish I may never hear of the United States again!” The judge is completely shocked at that announcement and, on convicting him, icily grants him his wish. Nolan is to spend the rest of his life aboard US Navy warships in exile with no right ever to set foot on US soil again and with explicit orders that no one shall ever again mention his country to him.

     The sentence is carried out to the letter. For the rest of his life, Nolan is transported from ship to ship, lives out his life as a prisoner on the high seas, and is never allowed back in a home port.”

      So for Exile; now also for Erasure. As I wrote in my post of January 7 2021, Treason and Terror: Trump’s Brownshirts Attack Congress; This leaves the ringleader and chief conspirator of treason, sedition, insurrection, and terror to be removed from power and denied a platform from which to spread madness and violence like a plague; our Clown of Terror, Traitor Trump. I believe we must remove, impeach, deplatform, and prosecute him for his many crimes against America; Trump must be exiled from public life and isolated from his power to destroy us.

     Roman law called this damnatio memoriae, the erasure of public forgetting, and coupled with the Amish practice of shunning provides a useful model of minimum use of social force in safeguarding ourselves from threats, without the brutality of torture and prison to which we have become addicted. A fascinating  article by the classical scholar Alexander Meddings examines its use in the cases of Trump’s nearest Imperial parallels, Caligula and Nero.

     Exile and Erasure; neither prison nor violence or the use of force and fear. Let us simply cast out those who would destroy us from among us, and forget them.

     I came to my lifelong interest in the origins of evil by three Defining Moments of life disruptive events and trauma, which include a childhood growing up in a savagely repressive community of religious fanatics of the patriarchal and xenophobic Reformed Church, once the state faith of South Africa’s Apartheid regime, a childhood wherein divisions of exclusionary otherness and the three primary terrors, faith weaponized in service to authority and power as violence, subjugation, and identitarian-sectarian division, patriarchal sexual terror, and white supremacist terror and other racially motivated hate crime and fascisms of blood, faith, and soil, were symbolized for me by two fires; a witch burning and the burning of a cross on the lawn of newlyweds who had married outside of their churches, a Dutch Reformed Church man and a Swiss Calvinist woman, both white Protestants, referred to locally as a mixed marriage and officially shunned by the Reformed Church. When one begins by forbidding music as sinful and the use of buttons as non-Biblical technology, divisions of exclusionary otherness and membership become reinforced by authority as a grim regime of force and control.

     Second came a near-death experience of disembodied timeless vision and frontline witness at nine years of age of the most massive incident of state terror in American history, Bloody Thursday, May 15 1969 in People’s Park, Berkeley. Third were my experiences in the summer of 1973 just before high school, when I went to Brazil to train as a fencer for the Pan American Games, and stayed to defend abandoned street children and other outcasts from the bounty hunters whom the rich had set on them.

    This trauma and historical context I processed by reading and writing, and during my last two years of high school I discovered books which became instrumental to this process and to my understanding; Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird, whose protagonist I felt a deep identification and kinship with, and was a dinner table subject of conversation as my mother wrote her study of psychosomatic muteness from his childhood therapy journal and the Soviet mental hospital records Kosinski wrote his magnificent and terrible novel from, the works of Hannah Arendt, Albert Camus, and Jean Paul Sartre, and other Holocaust survivors and Resistance fighters who engaged with the problem of evil as tyranny and state terror, and Robert Waite’s magisterial study of Hitler in The Psychopathic God; this last work inspired me to question the origins of evil as fear, power, and force under the triple lens of psychology, history, and literature as a field of scholarship at university and throughout my life.

    How is this relevant to ideas of justice? Because we must not become our enemies in the use of social force, even to guarantee our universal human rights.

   Remember always Nietzsche’s warning in Beyond Good and Evil; “He who fights monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes back into thee.”

    We must escape the maelstrom of dehumanization which is the Wagnerian Ring of fear, power, and force if we are to free ourselves from the disfiguring and crippling legacies of our history. To do this we must abandon power over others and the social use of force; but first we must seize our power over ourselves from those who would enslave us.

     As written by Hugo Lowell, Maya Yang and Martin Pengelly in The Guardian in an article entitled New York attorney general lawsuit accuses Trump of ‘staggering’ fraud, Letitia James’s civil suit accuses ex-president of inflating his net worth by billions in order to ‘enrich himself and cheat the system; “The attorney general of New York state has filed a civil fraud lawsuit against Donald Trump and three of his children involved in the family real-estate business, for falsely inflating his net worth by billions in order to enrich himself and secure favorable loans.

     Announcing the suit in New York on Wednesday, Letitia James also said referrals had been made to federal prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service – a move sure to anger the former US president and increase consternation among his inner circle about the depth of his legal predicament.

     Trump, Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump were all deposed during the New York investigation, which began when Trump was president and lasted for three years.

     The lawsuit seeks to bar all four Trumps from serving as executives in New York, and to prohibit the Trump Organization from acquiring any commercial real estate or receiving loans from New York-based entities for five years.

     James added: “The complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us. He did this with the help of the other defendants.”

     James said her office uncovered evidence of federal criminal violations including issuing false statements to financial institutions and bank fraud, and had referred the matter to the southern district of New York and the IRS.

     The lawsuit states: “The number of grossly inflated asset values is staggering, affecting most if not all of the real estate holdings in any given year.”

     The suit also seeks to recover at least $250m and to bar the Trump Organization chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, and comptroller, Jeffrey McConney, from serving in top roles of any company in New York.

     In a separate criminal investigation, in New York, Weisselberg, 75, has pleaded guilty to tax fraud.

     Noting how Trump and Weisselberg cited fifth-amendment protections against self-incrimination when refusing to answer questions at deposition, James said: “For too long, powerful, wealthy people in this country have operated as if the rules do not apply to them.

     “Donald Trump stands out as among the most egregious examples. Trump thought he could get away with the art of the steal but today that conduct ends.”

     Though the New York suit is not a criminal prosecution, James’s referral to federal prosecutors at the southern district of New York threatens further serious legal peril for the former president and his three adult children.

     Trump has repeatedly suggested he will run again for president in 2024. But he faces legal threats including possible indictment over his retention of classified records and multiple investigations of his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

     The former president and his attorneys have castigated the New York investigation as a politically motivated “witch-hunt” – his default position under scrutiny – and insisted that the Trump Organization did not operate illegally.

     But in the 214-page complaint, James outlined an extensive record of alleged wrongdoing, such as fraudulently inflating the value of 23 properties including the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump Tower in New York and what was previously the Trump International hotel in Washington DC.

     James alleged that the defendants made more than 200 false and misleading asset valuations in financial statements between 2011 and 2021, and revealed strategies she said Trump and his organization used to commit fraud.

     Mar-a-Lago, the suit says, was valued as high as $739m when it should have been closer to $75m.

     James also said the Trumps “received a series of bank ordered appraisals for the commercial property at 40 Wall Street in New York City that calculated the value of the property at $200m as of August 2010 and $220m as of November 2012.

     “Yet in his 2011 statement, Mr Trump listed 40 Wall Street with a value of $524m, which increased to $530m over the next two years, more than twice the value calculated by the professionals.

     “Even more egregious, the $500m-plus valuation was attributed to information from the appraiser who valued the building at just over $200m.”

     Regarding Trump Tower, on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, James said: “Mr Trump represented that his apartment spanned more than 30,000 sq ft, which was the basis for valuing the apartment. In reality, the apartment had an area of less than 11,000 sq ft, something Mr Trump was well aware of.

     “Based on that inflated square footage, the value of the apartment in 2015 and 2016 was $327m. To this date, no apartment in New York City has ever sold for close to that amount. Tripling the size of the apartment for purposes of the valuation was intentional and deliberate fraud. Not an honest mistake.”

     Trump has consistently accused James of being politically motivated. Before James’s announcement, Bloomberg News reported that “members of Trump’s inner circle” saw the suit as “a fundraising opportunity for James, a Democrat facing re-election in November”.

     Trump has also claimed that the attorney general, who is Black, is racist.

     As James spoke, Donald Trump Jr tweeted: “The bullshit Dem[ocratic] witch-hunt continues!”

     Trump lawyer Alina Habba said the lawsuit “is neither focused on the facts nor the law, rather it is solely focused on advancing the attorney general’s political agenda,” accusing James of abusing her authority “by prying into transactions where absolutely no wrongdoing has taken place”.

     Habba said the allegations in the lawsuit are “meritless”.

     Summing up on Wednesday morning, James said: “I want to be clear. White-collar financial crime is not a victimless crime.”

     Repeating her allusion to Trump’s most famous ghosted book, she added: “Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It’s the art of the steal.

        “There cannot be different rules for different people in this country or in this state … No one is above the law.”

     As written by David Smith ion The Guardian, in an article entitled ‘I’m not sure he’s going to escape jail’: could Trump’s legal woes prevent a 2024 run?; “Donald Trump’s legal perils have become insurmountable and could snuff out the former US president’s hopes of an election-winning comeback, according to political analysts and legal experts.

     On Wednesday, Trump and three of his adult children were accused of lying to tax collectors, lenders and insurers in a “staggering” fraud scheme that routinely misstated the value of his properties to enrich themselves.

     The civil lawsuit, filed by New York’s attorney general, came as the FBI investigates Trump’s holding of sensitive government documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and a special grand jury in Georgia considers whether he and others attempted to influence state election officials after his defeat there by Joe Biden.

     The former US president has repeatedly hinted that he intends to run for the White House again in 2024. But the cascade of criminal, civil and congressional investigations could yet derail that bid.

     “He’s done,” said Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University, in Washington, who has accurately predicted every presidential election since 1984. “He’s got too many burdens, too much baggage to be able to run again even presuming he escapes jail, he escapes bankruptcy. I’m not sure he’s going to escape jail.”

     After a three-year investigation, Letitia James, the New York attorney general, alleged that Trump provided fraudulent statements of his net worth and false asset valuations to obtain and satisfy loans, get insurance benefits and pay lowrr taxes. Offspring Don Jr, Ivanka and Eric were also named as defendants.

     At a press conference, James riffed on the title of Trump’s 1987 memoir and business how-to book, The Art of the Deal.

     “This investigation revealed that Donald Trump engaged in years of illegal conduct to inflate his net worth, to deceive banks and the people of the great state of New York. Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to ‘the art of the deal’. It’s the art of the steal,” she said.

     Her office requested that the former president pay at least $250m in penalties and that his family be banned from running businesses in the state.

     James cannot bring criminal charges against Trump in this civil investigation but she said she was referring allegations of criminal fraud to federal prosecutors in Manhattan as well as the Internal Revenue Service.

     Trump repeated his go-to defence that the suit is “another witch hunt” against him and again referred to James, who is Black, as racist, via his Truth Social platform, also calling her “a fraud who campaigned on a ‘get Trump’ platform, despite the fact that the city is one of the crime and murder disasters of the world under her watch!”

     But critics said the suit strikes at the heart of Trump’s self-portrayal as a successful property developer who made billions, hosted the reality TV show The Apprentice and promised to apply that business acumen to the presidency.

     Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, noted that the civil component “involves things of particular significance to Trump and his family and his organisation, namely their ability to defraud the public, to defraud banks, to defraud insurance companies, and to continue to subsist through corruption. Without all of that corruption, the entire Trump empire is involved in something like meltdown.”

     Tribe added: “Trump is probably more concerned with things of this kind than he is with having to wear an orange jumpsuit and maybe answer a criminal indictment … As a practical matter, this is probably going to cause more sleepless nights for Mr Trump than almost anything else.”

     No previous former president has faced investigations so numerous and so serious. Last month FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago and seized official documents marked Top Secret, Secret and Confidential. Trump faces possible indictment for violating the Espionage Act, obstruction of a federal investigation or mishandling sensitive government records.

     As so often during his business career, Trump sought to throw sand in the legal gears. He bought time by persuading a court to appoint a judge, Raymond Dearie, as a special master to review the documents. But so far Dearie appears to be far from a yes-man. On Tuesday he warned Trump’s lawyers: “My view is you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

     The ex-president also faces a state grand jury investigation in Georgia over efforts to subvert that state’s election result in 2020.

     The justice department is investigating his role in the deadly January 6 attack on the US Capitol by a mob of his supporters intent on preventing the certification of Biden’s election victory. Its efforts have been boosted by the parallel investigation by a House of Representatives committee, whose hearings are set to resume next week.

     In addition, the Trump Organization – which manages hotels, golf courses and other properties around the world – is set to go on trial next month in a criminal case alleging that it schemed to give untaxed perks to senior executives, including its longtime finance chief Allen Weisselberg, who alone took more than $1.7m in extras.

     In a further setback on Wednesday, arguably Trump’s worst-ever day of legal defeats, a federal appeals court permitted the justice department to resume its review of classified records seized from Mar-a-Lago as part of its criminal investigation.

     The former president, meanwhile, insisted that he did nothing wrong in retaining the documents. “There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it,” he told the Fox News host Sean Hannity. “If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying: ‘It’s declassified’.”

     “Even by thinking about it, because you’re sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you’re sending it … There can be a process, but there doesn’t have to be.”

     Despite it all, Trump has been laying the groundwork for a potential comeback campaign and has accused Biden’s administration of targeting him to undermine his political prospects.

     Asked by a conservative radio host what would happen if he was indicted over the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, Trump replied: “I think you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before. I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.”

     Kurt Bardella, an adviser to the Democratic National Committee, said: “If the best defence you have for your conduct is: if you hold me accountable, there will be violence, that sounds like someone who has no business being either in public service or being outside of jail.”

     Bardella expressed hope that, at long last, Trump would be held to account. “Everything about Donald Trump has always been about the grift. It’s always been about the con. And now his unmasking is at hand.”

    As written by Moira Donegan in The Guardian, in an article entitled Lawsuits are raining down on Donald Trump. Will any bring him to justice?; “Despite Donald Trump’s self-mythologizing ostentation – despite his gold toilets and eastern European models, despite his airplanes, golf courses and gleaming bad taste – he always had more shamelessness than actual money. This has been painfully obvious for years, so in a way, what the New York attorney general revealed on Wednesday, first in a press conference, then in a more than 200-page legal complaint, was nothing new. Letitia James alleges that Trump lies, and he most often lies to aggrandize himself, and specifically, he lies a lot about money. He’s not as rich as he says he is.

     This week, James’s office filed a civil suit against Donald Trump, his three eldest children, the longtime Trump Organization chief financial officer Alan Weisselberg (who pleaded guilty to 15 felonies last month), and the Trump Organization itself. The lawsuit alleges a longstanding pattern of financial fraud in which, James claims, the Trump Organization deliberately inflated the value of its assets – including all of Trump’s most famously gaudy properties – when seeking loans, in order to secure more generous credit terms.

     Deception seems to have been core to the Trump Organization’s business model. James alleges that the practice went on for years, citing 11 of the Trump Organization’s annual financial reports, on which Trump personally signed off, which her office says contain more than 200 fraudulent asset valuations. Just as Trump allegedly inflated the value of his assets when he was seeking a loan, there’s some evidence to suggest that he deflated the value of those same assets when it came time to pay his taxes. James’s office does not have the authority to bring criminal charges against Trump in this matter, but her lawsuit is accompanied by criminal referrals, both to the US district attorney’s office in New York and to the IRS.

     In typical Trump fashion, the alleged frauds range from the shameless, to the bizarre, to the somewhat sad. In evaluating the value of his own apartment, the gilded casino lobby atop Trump Tower in Manhattan, where he was photographed pre-presidency, Melania Trump pouting behind him in a pink cape, Trump is accused of inflating the floor plan by three times. The apartment is about 11,000 square feet; Trump allegedly claimed it was 30,000, in order to value it at $327m.

     At Trump Park Avenue, a high-rise apartment building he owns a few blocks away, 12 units were set aside by law as rent-stabilized; the rates couldn’t be raised, and the tenants could not be evicted. But Trump allegedly valued the property as if he were collecting market rate rents on those apartments, a fiction that increased the value of the building by almost 70 times.

     At Mar-a-Lago, the Florida resort-cum-residence where he has reportedly established a faux Oval Office since being forced from the White House, and where he was allegedly keeping some of the government’s most sensitive secrets in all but plain view, he apparently lied about the property’s potential. He allegedly claimed that Mar-a-Lago was eligible to be developed into residential properties, inflating its value to a whopping $739m. In reality, the site is subject to a number of zoning and environmental restrictions that constrict its development potential. Its actual worth is something like $75m.

     New York Attorney General James Announces Civil Fraud Lawsuit Against Trump And His Children<br>NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 21: NY Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference at the office of the Attorney General on September 21, 2022 in New York, New York. NY AG James announced today that her office is suing former President Donald J. Trump and his children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump accusing the family of fraudulent statements of financial conditions to obtain millions in economic benefits. The lawsuit seeks to remove Trump and his children from their roles at their organizations and bans them from future leadership roles in the state of NY and repay $250 million that was illegally obtained.

     Trump has long been defined by his own rigorous artificiality, and the frauds alleged in James’s complaint are so in keeping with his character that even the brazenness of the apparent malfeasance has ceased to be impressive. This is always how it goes with Trump, after all: his signature falseness, both of his personal style and his pretensions to wealth and of his politics, his promises to those who follow him. Everything, without fail, is shabbier and cheaper than Trump says it is. The silk snags, and turns out to be polyester; the leather peels off to reveal that its plastic; the gilt edges chip, a flimsy spray paint. Everything is geared towards his own self-aggrandizement and away from any personal responsibility.

     He’s either the singularly powerful savior of “I alone can fix it”, or he’s the helpless victim of a “witch-hunt”. He’s either the greatest businessman who ever lived, or a humble, salt-of-the-earth guy. He’s always in the right, always uniquely capable and smart, and yet nothing is ever his fault. At the end of The Wizard of Oz, when the “great and powerful” wizard turns out to be a sad and insecure person, devoid of magic, the man behind the curtain becomes an object of pity, someone who needs an elaborate psychological edifice to tolerate a world in which he is not special, not anointed for greatness, but merely scared and small. But Trump cannot evoke this pity, because he has made it clear that he would rather destroy the country, and all of us with it, than abandon his delusions.

     James’s lawsuit is just the newest in the former president’s string of legal battles. He’s being sued for defamation by the writer E Jean Carroll, whom Trump accused of lying after she accused him of rape, and just this week she announced she would be suing him for the rape, too, under a new New York law that briefly extends sexual assault victims’ civil statute of limitations.

     He’s being sued by the NAACP for violating the Voting Rights Act when he claimed election fraud in 2020. He’s being sued by the DC attorney general for his misuse of inauguration funds in 2017; he’s being sued by Capitol police and seemingly every Democratic congressperson for the January 6 riot. And that’s just the stuff that couldn’t land him in jail: there is also a simmering criminal inquiry into the fake electors scheme in Atlanta, and of course the Department of Justice’s investigation into his smuggling of classified documents to Mar-a-Lago.

     It’s easy to sue Trump, and it’s appealing. He seems to break the law with the same intuitive ease that most of us only feel for breathing, and a lawsuit against him can attract good press for any of the legions of ambitious, status-seeking liberal lawyers that populate the white shoe firms. But like other rich men who break the law, Trump has a tendency to evade consequences. Aside from lying, it’s perhaps his greatest talent.”

The Painted Bird  (film)

The Painted Bird, by Jerzy Kosiński

Arrest Trump Now

The Psychopathic God, by Robert G.L. Waite

The Origins of Totalitarianism, by Hannah Arendt

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, by Bandy X. Lee editor & contributor

On Damnatio Memoriae

The Man Without a Country, by Edward Everett Hale


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