The Empire (State) Strikes Back

I was born, educated and lived the first 47 years of my life in New York State so I guess I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for it. (That still doesn’t negate the fact that I don’t miss the snow.) Recently its rising political star Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was forced out in a matter of hours when he was exposed in a scandal. The speed with which he resigned makes me believe there was a lot of fire behind that smoke and that somebody who was politically motivated let the cat out of the bag. This is all unsubstantiated speculation on my part but allow me to connect a logical series of dots.

Last week Schneiderman’s successor and current New York State AG Barbara Underwood filed a civil suit against the President, The Donald J. Trump Foundation (his “charity”) and his three oldest children, Ivanka, Donald, Jr. and Eric. In no way am I excusing Schneiderman’s alleged behavior but it would be consistent with the ignorance of the government and mob tactics of the Trump team that they would have facilitated “spilling the beans” on Schneiderman in the assumption that with him gone the investigation would fade away. They don’t understand that investigations are bigger than any one individual and that most high level American law enforcement people cannot be easily bought off and/or intimidated. Unlike Trump and his minions there are many Americans of character who actually care about their country.

Most of the details alleged in the suit (and there is considerable established fact to give them credibility) are actually old news because the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting them some time ago. For those who have forgotten of some or missed it I’ll outline a few.

Trump did not contribute any money to his charitable foundation between the years 2008 and 2015. Typical of Trump, he loves to play with OP (other people’s) money while acting the bigshot. Interestingly Vince and Linda McMahon donated $5 million between 2007 and 2009. President Trump named Linda McMahon to run the Small Business Administration.

Underwood cited the foundation for “Persistent illegal conduct.” Some examples are the foundation bought a portrait of Trump that then adorned one of his golf clubs. It also bought a Tim Tebow autographed football. Foundation funds were used to settle at least one civil dispute. There is also the case of the $25,000 donation to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi who subsequently decided not to pursue charges against a Trump property in her state.

During the 2016 primary the Trump foundation made several donations to veterans’ groups in documented conspiracy with the Trump campaign.

These are all violations of the IRS code and/or FEC campaign finance regulations. Underwood has referred them to the IRS and FEC for criminal investigation. It will be interesting to see what happens in this regard.

The three oldest Trump children served on the Board of the foundation. Interestingly the foundation’s Treasurer is Trump Organization employee Allen Weisselberg who unbeknownst to him was also a member of the Board. One possible explanation for his ignorance is that the Board appears not to have met in years.

I have long contended and continue to contend that the Trump administration is little more than an organized criminal enterprise. This is proof that the Presidency didn’t corrupt Trump; he was already corrupt. Trump claims he won’t settle this suit.   That’s the same thing he said during the campaign about the Schneiderman-led Trump University case which he ended up settling for $25 million.

An intriguing unexplored aspect of this case is that there may well be violations of New York State tax law. While it is legally unsettled whether the President can pardon himself of a federal crime; it is settled law that presidential pardon power does not extend to state crimes. Tax evasion is a crime. This could be much more serious than it appears at first glance. Remember law enforcement ended up getting Al Capone on tax charges when he eluded many others.

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