Mark your calendars because the days of Teflon Don are numbered, 18 days to be precise. Thursday a judge ruled that Donald Trump, and his eldest son and daughter have 21 days to sit for a deposition with respect to the New York attorney general’s investigation. Tomorrow is Monday and that will be day 17 and things are going to start to move fast now.
This was no ordinary day in court. George Conway writes, ‘”The judge’s opinion brutally rejected Trump’s arguments for blocking the depositions: It would have been ‘blatant dereliction of duty’ for the attorney general not to take the testimony, the judge explained, because prosecutors have unearthed ‘copious evidence of possible financial fraud’ in Trump’s business.'”
Indeed they have. And by walking out the door when they did, Trump’s very own accountants made it plain that they had no intention of running afoul of the attorney general’s office themselves.
Make no mistake, the Mazars letter was a major blow and it may be remembered in history as the coup de grace that brought down the previously indestructable Donald Trump. Washington Post:
Translated from legal-accountingese, the letter was an unmitigated disaster for Trump, far beyond his possibly having to file late returns. By saying the statements “should no longer be relied upon,” the accountants effectively announced, You misled us. By “totality of the circumstances,” they likely meant, The prosecutors investigating you, and the case they’re making, are serious.
By pronouncing “a non-waivable conflict of interest,” they were all but saying, We’re on team A.G. — or we might have to join someday soon. And by saying no “new work product” and quitting, they essentially declared, We don’t trust you — and we’re certainly not going to jail for you.
All this could threaten Trump’s livelihood — his all-important mogulhood — in a way no setback ever has before. Even a guilty verdict in a Senate impeachment trial would have affected only his entitlement to temporary government housing. And when he ran into financial trouble in the 1980s and ’90s, he had legions of lawyers and accountants to help him work things out with the banks and the courts.
Now the man who long has had trouble finding decent legal representation might find it all but impossible to find new auditors and tax preparers. It’s hard to imagine that any reputable accounting firm will touch his tax returns, let alone fix and bless his financials for a decade or more.
Even if lenders don’t exercise any rights they might have to call in their loans, Trump apparently still needs to refinance hundreds of millions’ worth of them soon. As Trump biographer Timothy L. O’Brien of Bloomberg Opinion puts it, “Good luck refinancing your debt when the accountants” — who have just declared a decade of your financials utterly worthless — have “just walked out the door.”
So Trump would face a heap of problems even if the New York attorney general (and the Manhattan district attorney she’s working with) closed up shop tomorrow. No wonder Trump’s son Eric was all but crying when he mentioned the prosecutors this week on Fox News.
And of course they’re not closing up shop tomorrow. Their work is grinding right along. And Trump is desperate for cash. You’ve read the latest on how he’s getting back in bed with the Saudis so they can pump money his way by using his golf courses for their tournaments, and that’s assuming that club members don’t leave in droves. That is yet to be seen.
The saga of Donald Trump has always been straight out of Greek tragedy, where the fate of the main character is determined by his own shortcomings as a person. I don’t expect Trump to tear his eyes out of his head, or even the last shreds of his bizarro hair, he’s too vain for that, but it’s guaranteed that when he shows up to testify before the attorney general that he’s going to be a complete wreck.
Maybe he’ll take the 5th Amendment copiously, or maybe he’ll slip up and lie and perjure himself. That’s something we’ll find out when we watch the next act — or episode, since this is Mr. TV that we’re talking about. Stay tuned.