This is almost too delicious for words. Once upon a time, there was a brazen con man known as Don the Con. Don conned everybody, but the funny thing was that he was such small change that nobody in authority found it worth the time and trouble to actually shut him down.
But then Don got greedy. He ran for President, and conned Vlad the Imp into helping him cheat to win. Which means that suddenly the national media, and I mean the serious hitters, were much more interested in him than ever before. And the more they dug, and the more they uncovered, the more it appeared that Don the Con had been a far randier lad than anybody had previously thought. And local jurisdictions started taking a lookee-see of their own.
Which brings us to New York, state and city, and Trump’s likely eventual Waterloo. New York state Attorney General Letitia James announced that her office was conducting a civil investigation of the Trump organization, looking into outrages such as tax fraud, insurance fraud, and bank fraud. Meanwhile, down in Big Town, The Manhattan District Attorney is looking into pretty much the same thing, but in a criminal investigation And then they started cooperating and exchanging information.
Which brings us to Trump’s personal nutcracker. Earlier today, NY AG James announced that she was slapping His Lowness with a subpoena to show up in New York state on January 7th for a deposition. Trump isn’t going to be able to ditch this, executive privilege doesn’t affect state investigations. And New York courts are highly likely to give Trump a quick rejection to his plaintive whining court filings. And when I heard that, I realized the brilliance of the trap that the NY AG and the Manhattan DA had just sprung on Trump, and could only shake my head in wonder.
Trump doesn’t really have a choice, he’s going to have to show up. But if he actually opens his mouth and answers questions, then any and everything he says will almost certainly be sent to the Manhattan DA’s office to assist them in their investigation. Which is self incrimination, right? Therefore the 5th Amendment. Except maybe not.
Many people think that the 5th Amendment is universal, but it isn’t. The 5th amendment only applies to criminal cases, where a defendant can literally lose his life or liberty. A criminal prosecutor is forbidden from arguing that a defendant pleading the 5th is a sign of guilt.
But not in civil court. In a civil case, the defendant is not risking life or prison, only fines and monetary penalties. A criminal prosecutor can’t argue that the defendant pleading the 5th, but the plaintiff in a civil case sure as hell can! And they do, all the time. That’s why you see so many depositions in civil cases. Get the testimony on the record, so you can impeach it in court if the actual trial testimony differs.
Trump is in an exquisite Chinese Box. If he answers questions at the civil deposition, then he spouts off shit that likely gives the Manhattan DA’s office nocturnal emissions. And if he blanket pleads the 5th in in his civil deposition, then AG James hammers him over the head with consciousness of guilt for every question he refused to answer.
Trump is boned. Sideways. He is in the process of finding out what happens when a Vegas video poker player takes a seat at the World Series Of Poker. One way or the other, civil or criminal, Trump is going down. And because he’s such a stupid shit, and has such lowlife legal help, my money is on both. Don’t touch that dial.
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