Politics, Taxes, and Sleaze in Trump Indictment

Corruption Politics Taxes

New Orleans      I’m yawning.  The Trump arraignment on 34 counts of criminal activity by the prosecutor in New York City was a nonevent.  Anti-Trumpers outshouted pro-Trumpers, so wake me up when it’s over.  The most interesting political news right now was the election of an African-American former union organizer as the mayor of Chicago and the election of a liberal woman judge by a wide margin to change control of the hard right bias of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, potentially rolling back abortion bans and gerrymandering in a battleground state.

I’m not saying that Trump’s first-ever brush with history as a former president accused of criminal activity doesn’t have some political impact.  Sure, it does, but it’s hard for me to see it as a game changer.  I say that not because little and big Republicans, high and low, lined up to support him and claim there was bias along with this and that.  I say it because the indictment basically boils down to Trump pads and cheats on his taxes, and he is a sleaze bag when it comes to women, paying them off left and right whether for a long-running affair or a one-night stand or allegations around paternity.  America, brace yourself for this, but none of that is going to hit his supporters – or his opponents – as actually news.  Few left in this country don’t know that Trump is a grifter and a womanizer.  Many in fact pulled the lever for him not once, but twice, and went to church after they did so.  I’m not sure if this bothers his base or reduces his core voting support.  We’ll see.

Is the case strong or weak?  I can’t pretend to know, and pundits and lawyers seem to disagree.  I do know that these charges are not unique in New York courts that handle the daily scams and fast dealing on Wall Street.  In fact, this prosecutor is a pro in that area:

[Trump] is the 30th defendant to be indicted on false records charges by [Prosecutor Alvin] Bragg since he took office just over a year ago, with the D.A. bringing 151 counts under the statute so far. Indeed, the Trump Organization conviction and the Weisselberg plea included business falsification felonies.

Are these really felonies, or are they misdemeanors hanging out with felonies because Trump was trying to clean up his mess before the election?  I don’t know that either, but I do know that he will never go to jail for any of this, and this alone won’t make him unelectable for many.

If we were picking and choosing, which of course we’re not, I’d rather see him on trial for a clear-cut federal crime like trying to interfere with the election count in Georgia, for example.  His whole term in office should have counted as a federal crime, but trying to steal an election he lost is politics writ large, and trying him for that and holding him accountable would straighten up America’s claim to democratic practice.  That trial would be totally political and could shape the race.  The New York trial, if there is one, won’t make Trump a good citizen, a good husband, or a moral man, but his base and the rest of us already know that and nothing we hear in court is going to change any of our opinions.