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Above the Law
Steven Seagal took down the CIA, but can the State of New York knock out Donald Trump?
Above the Law was the movie debut of Steven Seagal. Released in 1988, the plot surrounds Seagal’s character, a former CIA agent who discovers a conspiracy between the CIA, explosives, and a drug dealer. It was a terrible movie, but it made money, which meant we got more Steven Seagal, unfortunately. The title implies that NO ONE is ABOVE THE LAW, and it takes a determined person to bring down powerful institutions with his fists, leg kicks, and machine guns that are probably banned.
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ABOVE THE LAW is the theme of this next Ask Me Anything segment.
Long-time subscriber ECM, who always hits the like button, unlike my sister-in-law, chimed in with a question:
I’d love to compare the things Trump has done or has been accused of, compare those to things to other Americans who have done similar things, and then compare how other countries have handled the same situations where former leaders have been prosecuted.
Not only is ECM a long-time subscriber, he’s also a long-time friend who came up with a long question.
But I am up for the challenge! Thank you, ECM!
Trump’s Skill Set – Getting Into Trouble!
If there is one thing that Donald Trump is good at, it’s pissing people off. It’s estimated that he has been involved in over 4,000 lawsuits in his lifetime. I read that on the internet, so take it for what it’s worth. It seems perfectly reasonable for a 76-year-old jerkoff, who has filed for bankruptcy six times and yet still rose to the most powerful position in the history of the world, to be hauled into court all the time.
Before we dive into the most recent indictments, let’s pick through his trashcan of lawsuits for specific ones to discuss, or else this post will be 8,000 words long.
· We will begin with what Trump was accused of in both impeachment trials.
· Then look at what he was accused of since leaving office.
· We will wrap up by adding one high-profile private business case.
· I’ll provide a variety of examples that you requested.
In 2019, the House impeached Trump over abuse of power and obstruction. The House accused the president of soliciting a foreign power to interfere with an election when he dialed up the President of Ukraine and asked him to announce an investigation of Joe Biden, his political opponent in the 2020 election, in exchange for weapons.
The House threw in the obstruction of Congress charge due to Trump’s people ignoring subpoenas during the investigation. Ultimately, everything was voted along party colors that we love. Mitt Romney of Utah voted to convict Trump on abuse of power, becoming the only guy in history to convict a president of his party in a lovely and polite way.
Trump’s Impeachment Numero Duo took place one week left in his term in 2021. The House charged him this time with incitement of insurrection, which saw my neighborhood and the capitol attacked just weeks earlier, trying to overthrow the election results. Since the trial began after he left office, all sorts of weird stuff happened. Chief Justice John Roberts decided to sit this one out while Mitt was joined by six other Republicans who found their brains and voted to convict.
This past week, the State of New York indicted Trump for falsifying financial documents to protect his presidential campaign back in 2016. The indictment has thirty-four counts. Eleven of them relate to falsified invoices. Twelve counts are related to falsified ledger entries, and eleven more are related to checks sent to Stormy Daniels that were falsified to look like payments to lawyer Michael Cohen. Maybe I’ll write the screenplay for a Steven Seagal movie where he takes down an illegal H&R Block syndicate. ABOVE THE LEDGER!
With so many sketchy Trump business ventures to choose from, I decided on Trump University. It was an uncredited academic institution that taught real estate stuff to people who attended retreats but never received anything. The State of New York and the Federal Government came after him, and Trump settled everything for about $25M in November 2016. This was after we won the presidency due to a moronic system created by my favorite guy named Alex. He’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Swing and Miss
I’ve discussed impeachment with the man himself, Andrew Johnson. Bill Clinton was acquitted, and Richard Nixon resigned rather than stand trial, so along with Trump, we are 0-4 on impeachment convictions.
It’s difficult to remove a president as it should be. You need 67 Mitt Romneys. If 67 people can’t figure out that Trump incited a riot and didn’t feel the need to convict him, we will never see an executive removed this way.
Not all people get off, however. Albert Fall was President Harding’s Secretary of the Interior. Harding shifted some significant oversight on oil lands from California to a place called Teapot Dome, Wyoming, from the Department of the Navy.
Fall then turned around and took bribes from oil companies to drill on the land without taking bids. He got caught, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to a year in prison. He’s now famous for being the only cabinet member to be convicted. Hence the term Fall Guy, which was also a TV show around the time Above the Law came out.
Foreign Friends Do It Too
We have plenty of options to pick from when foreign leaders run astray.
Former French President Nicholas Sarkozy was tried and convicted of political campaign corruption in two separate trials after he left office. He was sentenced to three years but only served one in prison, and in another sentence, he had his one-year conviction that turned into house arrest.
Israel does an excellent job of convicting former officials. First, there was Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was convicted of taking bribes and spent just over a year behind bars. Then there was Moshe Katsav, the former President of Israel, who was convicted of rape and served five years in prison.
My favorite in terms of arresting former leaders is the South Koreans. Roo Muh-hyun, South Korea’s President for five years, committed suicide after being impeached for corruption in his administration. Lee Myun-baak followed in his footsteps when he was hit with a 17-year sentence for corruption. His successor Park Geun-hye was removed from office in 2017 and sentenced to 25 years for accepting bribes. Koreas can be easily bought and easily caught. And the sentences get longer as long as you don’t off yourself.
There’s Silvio Berlusconi, who served as Italy’s Prime Minister off and on for nine years from the mid-90s to 2011. He’s probably the most similar to Trump regarding his overlapping political and business dealings.
In August 2013, he was arrested, tried, and convicted of six counts of tax fraud and was sentenced to four years. But he had two of those years commuted, and then for some reason, Italy’s laws pardoned people after three years, so whatever, Berlusconi was elected back into the Italian Senate in 2022. Awesome.
The Man Who Started it All
Props need to be given to Charles Ponzi, a scammer who was so good that he now has an entire scheme named after him that is the inspiration of an American professional sports league. The Italian immigrant rose to financial prominence in Boston by paying early investors with money given by more recent investors. He skims a little off the top and claims profits.
Ponzi was ultimately caught because the idea of never having losses is absurd. He was charged with 86 counts of fraud and ultimately pleaded guilty and served five years in federal prison.
The case against Trump, any case really, is whether someone can prove in court that he committed a crime and a jury of his peers agrees.
I watch a lot of Law & Order, and I can tell you that not even Jack McCoy would touch this indictment because it’s crazy. Trump paying off someone who gets paid for sex, no matter the legal runaround, is, in my mind, akin to the impeachment of Bill Clinton, who lied during a deposition on his sexual relationship with a White House intern.
Sure, it’s probably technically illegal, but suggesting this is more egregious than swindling people through Trump University is silly. That took effort and did more damage.
We have a different set of values when it comes to sex. Take a look at former Vice President nominee John Edwards. He was a similarly lousy dude, having fathered the child of a campaign worker while his wife battled breast cancer. He was charged with six counts of campaign finance violations, paying off his baby’s momma while he ran for president.
A jury acquitted him of one charge, and there was a mistrial for the other five counts. This was a slam dunk case, and Edwards walked away into the sunset and, fortunately, never to be heard of again. The guy is a personal injury lawyer now.
We have a history of being too careful about punishing people of power. So much so that I don’t think we will ever see a president punished to the fullest extent of the law. In fact, the president is probably ABOVE THE LAW.
There’s a mechanism that allows abuse without fear of punishment and resides with pardoning, which is troubling.
Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon and allowed the 37th president to spend the rest of his life in a beach house stewing that he was wrongly accused.
I think Ford opened the floodgates. He pardoned Robert E. Lee for some silly reason. Jimmy Carter pardoned Jefferson Davis like Davis would have cared. He also pardoned G. Gordon Liddy, who masterminded the Watergate break-ins. After being pardoned, he contributed to society by hosting a radio show that ran for twenty years and whose main theme was suggesting we shoot government officials in the head.
George HW Bush pardoned six people convicted of the Iran-Contra Affair.
Bill Clinton pardoned his brother, which has to be considered the ultimate privilege move.
Barack Obama pardoned everyone whose name crossed his desk, and Donald Trump let people like Scooter Libby, Roger Stone, and Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois governor who tried to sell Obama’s Senate seat after he ascended to the presidency, off the hook. Rod obviously should get special treatment, considering he appeared on Trump’s television show.
This is the country we live in.
Go back to the Civil War, where after defeating the Confederates, people like Nathan Bedford Forrest got to keep his head attached to his body. This guy took up arms against the United States and killed Americans. In return for his body being intact, Forrest gave us the Ku Klux Klan. I’m sure a lot has been written that, despite America winning, America ultimately lost this war, and we have been trying to get back on the right side for a long time.
Don’t expect some denouement where Steve Seagal will karate chop Donald Trump, Jr. while Senator Ron Paul proclaims investigations as we roll the credits on this latest legal mess Trump Sr. is in. I’d feel better if Trump took bribes, which I’m sure he did. I just can’t prove it. But this isn’t Al Capone on tax issues here. This is the president of the United States, and it involves sex. We have seen this movie, and Above the Law is much better only because Sharon Stone is in it.
I hope this was helpful. If you like it, please hit the heart button below, and if you think this indictment on Trump will stick, I’d love to hear your theories.
It’s Easter weekend. I hope you and your families enjoy the holidays if you celebrate. I’m back on Monday, and there might be a big announcement mid-week for those of you who are paid subscribers. Stay tuned!
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