I urgently urge Republican lawmakers to read a new Newsweek magazine report on the endless unconscionable business tactics current U.S. President Donald Trump has used throughout his business career to avoid accountability for his actions.
You’ll see a lot that’s strikingly familiar.
What’s fascinating in the story is how it provides a clear blueprint to how he has continued to do the same despicable things as president — and his stunning hypocrisy in continuing even today to demonize former presidential election rival Hillary Clinton for destroying emails that might implicate her in crimes (the FBI has concluded no evidence for such crimes existed).
The concluding paragraph of the Newsweek article, titled “Donald Trump’s Companies Destroyed Emails in Defiance of Court Orders,” neatly summarizes the broader implications of the detailed investigation of Trump’s business dealings, specifically his responses to lawsuits against him and his companies.
“This review of Trump’s many decades of abusing the judicial system, ignoring judges, disregarding rules, destroying documents and lying about it is not simply a sordid history lesson,” Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald writes. “Rather, it helps explain his behavior since he declared his candidacy. He promised to turn over his tax returns and his health records—just as he promised to comply with document discovery requirements in so many lawsuits—then reneged. As a result, he has left a sparse evidentiary trail that can be used to assess his wealth, his qualifications for the presidency or even his fitness. Should voters choose him to be the next U.S. president, he will enter the Oval Office as a mystery, a man who has repeatedly flouted the rules. He has solemnly told the country to trust him while refusing to produce any records to prove whether he speaks the truth or has utter contempt for it.”
The magazine piece notes that Trump’s overarching defensive tactic in all legal perils was, in effect, offensive: to “deny, impede and delay” everything, Eichenwald writes. And, of course, lie. The goal is always to mire cases in court for years before any settlement, piling enormous and financially punishing legal bills on litigants.
Sometimes litigants, even those with air-tight cases, became financially and personally exhausted by Trump’s endless disengagement and stalling, and sometimes bogus countersuits, and ultimately settled for far less than they deserved rather than prolong their legal ordeals.
So, that’s the “deny” part of the president’s continuing standard game plan to confront any charges against him.
What personally surprised me is not only Trump’s willful resistance to legal requirements in legal cases but how frequently and casually he broke the law in that pursuit, all without significant — or any, for that matter —consequence.
One of the key reasons he succeeds, Eichenwald explains, is because judges are “loathe” to be punitive when defendants thumb their noses at court requirements — such as retaining and providing relevant business documents for plaintiffs to view in discovery, as legally mandated — because overworked judges do not want to unduly delay a case by going after them. Judges simply make new compliance deadlines or allow plaintiffs to (fruitlessly) search defendant records, which, in the case of Trump companies, had often already been purposefully destroyed.
Trump often unconvincingly testified that he destroyed documents simply to “save space.”
When Trump once made this claim to a judge, the jurist reacted with “near disbelief,” Eichenwald reported, exclaiming, “I don’t have the patience for this. This has been going on too long to have to listen — and I don’t mean to be disrespectful — to this double-talk. There has to be an attitude adjustment from the plaintiff.”
Clearly, the plaintiff has yet to make that adjustment, as the U.S. House begins a formal impeachment inquiry into potentially illegal and unconstitutional official behavior as president that he continues to publicly and emphatically lie about.
Whereas a parade of highly respected, expert diplomatic and national security officials have told U.S. representatives in relevant committees that the president shook-down the president of the Ukraine trying to force him to publicly announce an investigation into a potential political rival of Trump’s, he has steadfastly denied it.
It was a “perfect call,” contends the president, although common sense tells every thoughtful, patriotic American that trying to force a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political rival is spectacularly and obviously wrong, at the very least, and likely illegal and unconstitutional. The “impede” and “delay” parts are his forceful and fulsome attempts to block members of his government from testifying before Congress, and in trying to force every unwanted requirement to slog like snails through the U.S. court system.
It’s déjà vu all over again.
Don’t even start with his tax returns.
So, I respectfully suggest that U.S. senators, who are so fearful of doing the right thing in this deplorable episode in American political history, read this Newsweek report. If they are honest and fair readers, they will see much in the president’s past that informs this present moment.
They will realize they are being played for suckers. As Trump saw that he could play the legal system by corrupting its machinery in his favor, he sees crystal clearly that he can corrupt the electoral and political process as well by denying, impeding and delaying normal processes — and terrorizing timid GOP candidates (which appears to be all of them).
His ace in the whole is he has tens of millions of apparently mentally challenged supporters that he threatens to unleash on any Republican primary-election candidates who oppose him.
The most demoralizing facet of this current divisive era in American politics, and the most surprising to me, is how utterly unwilling politicians are — GOP candidates, at the moment —to place honor and country above their apparently howling need to retain the elevated status and authority of their elected positions.
Sad, as the president is wont to say.