BY RICHARD C. GROSS
“For trust not him that hath once broken faith.”
— William Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth, “Henry VI,” Act IV, Scene 3.
Not only did Trump get indicted for the fourth time in five months, but the state of Georgia accused the former president of being a mob boss.
A mobster, the indictment says, though more politely: allegedly being involved in a “criminal racketeering enterprise.” And this was an occupant of the White House for four long, chaotic, troubling and troublesome years. And he’s running for it again.
A godfather, which he most certainly is for the weak shell of the once-noble Republican Party. Its members repeatedly pay him homage and defend his fantasy about a stolen election despite two House impeachments and the three criminal federal and state indictments before the Peach State joined the fray.
Trump now faces 91 felony counts against him, including those in Georgia’s Act IV, Scene 1. Even if the four indictments are not counted together, nothing like this has happened to any current or former president.
Not ever, since George Washington took the first oath of office as president on Wall Street April 30, 1789.
That last 98-page indictment Monday night may be most serious of all because, if convicted, he cannot be pardoned by a national president, even by himself should he be elected to a second term. That’s only possible if convicted of breaking federal, not state, laws.
Further, the latest grand jury indictment charges Trump and 18 others, some his closest White House advisers like Rudy Giuliani and his final chief of staff, Mark Meadows, with violating Georgia’s very tough Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The federal government and more than 30 states adopted it to use against the Mafia, gangs and Ponzi schemes.
Meadows wants his case switched to a federal court. Trump may demand the same thing, which could lead to all of the defendants seeking an exodus from the Georgia court. So, I don’t think a mass escape would be possible.
Someone convicted under Georgia’s RICO act faces between five and 20 years in prison or a fine of up to $250,000. If convicted, Trump shouldn’t be sentenced to paying the fine; it’s no more than petty cash to him, the cost of doing business.
If convicted, prison would be more appropriate for all of the crimes he’s accused of committing. He’s going to deny, deny, deny and delay, delay, delay. That’s his M.O.
“The indictment alleges that rather than abide by Georgia’s legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told a news conference Monday night. She led the two-year investigation.
The charge includes Trump’s infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger appealing to him to “find 11,780 votes” that would flip the election from Joe Biden to him. Bad move.
If he was trying to find more votes, didn’t he then know that he lost the election?
Typically, Trump lashed out at Willis on his Truth Social website even before the indictment was released.
“Phony Fani Willis . . . wants desperately to indict me on the ridiculous grounds of tampering with the 2020 presidential election,” he typed. “No, I didn’t tamper with the election! Those who rigged & stole the election were the ones doing the tampering & they are the slime that should be prosecuted.”
If past is prologue, I believe he means President Biden. His MAGAites believe him.
In a federal indictment earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan warned Trump against criticizing her Washington, D.C., court, its personnel, potential witnesses and eventual jurors. She knows very well the nature of what he’s been and what he is.
We all lived it for nearly eight years.
The deranged narcissist, disgraced by virtue of the four indictments against him, finally met his comeuppance after many years of beating court cases. They began when he was a real estate developer in New York City, where he occasionally refused to pay subcontractors.
He also stiffed Giuliani, who was his personal lawyer when he still was in the White House. He wouldn’t pay the former New York mayor’s bills for his unsuccessful post-election court challenges. Giuliani demanded $20,000 a day for two months of work.
Trump never could man up and admit that he lost the 2020 election. He wasted years since then whipping up fantasy tales of his having won, charging without evidence that it was stolen from him, that it was part of a “witch hunt” by the “deep state.” What deep state? Where? Who?
He tried and failed many times through the courts to reclaim a lost election, through continual lying, allegedly through creating false electors who signed on to represent him and through state officials to change the vote in his favor.
We are fortunate that we really are a nation of laws, as has been said many times, with people of integrity and in positions to enforce them to ensure our democracy lives, despite the few whose lust for power would destroy one of mankind’s better experiments.
Trump always has ached for the spotlight, with him at stage center. He needn’t worry. His name will live on long after he’s dead. In infamy.
Richard C. Gross, who covered war and peace in Israel, was Pentagon reporter and a foreign editor of United Press International, was the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.