Former President Donald Trump had a hell of a Tuesday.
First, Trump’s final still-standing midterm endorsee, Herschel Walker, was defeated in the Georgia runoff. Walker’s defeat was the last in a long line of Donald Trump midterm defeats, which signaled clearly that Trump is no longer the kingmaker he once was.
Second, a jury found the Trump Organization guilty of all charges in a tax fraud scheme. That’s a rough 24 hours, even for Donald Trump, who has spent his career getting dragged through the mud.
While Trump is no stranger to legal drama – he has been suing or getting sued, almost without ceasing, for most of his adult life – the current crop of ongoing suits (and investigations) feels especially hazardous.
In New York yesterday, jurors deliberated for just over one day, before returning a guilty-on-all-counts verdict for the Trump Organization. The former president’s company had been charged with 17 counts relating to a scheme by top executives of the company, to commit tax fraud. The charges include schemes to defraud, conspiracy, criminal tax fraud, and falsifying business records. Sentencing will now take place on January 13, 2023.
The suit alleged that Trump’s companies allowed their “already highly paid executives” to take home even more money by “cheating on their taxes” through a series of off-the-books perks (like luxury cars and free apartments).
Manhattan’s District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, said that “the Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corporation got away with a scheme that awarded high-level executives with lavish perks and compensation while intentionally concealing the benefits from the taxing authorities to avoid paying taxes.”
The tax fraud scheme isn’t the only lawsuit the Trump Organization is facing in New York.
The Attorney General of New York, Letitia James, brought suit against the Trump Organization in September, alleging that Donald Trump, his three grown children, and other executives at the company had spent years “flagrantly manipulating property and other asset valuations to deceive lenders, insurance brokers and tax authorities into giving them better bank-loan and insurance policy rates and to reduce their tax liability,” the Washington Post reported. James’s suit seeks to recover more than $250 million in “ill-gotten gains.”
The Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Merrick Garland, is investigating Trump’s involvement in the January 6th riots. No president has ever been charged criminally, but reports indicate that Garland is deliberating whether to bring criminal charges against Trump. Even Richard Nixon was able to avoid being charged criminally for his involvement in the Watergate scandal (President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon before charges could be brought). So, if Trump were charged, it would mark a dubious moment in American history.
The U.S. House of Representatives is also probing Trump’s involvement on January 6th – albeit without the ability to bring criminal charges.
And then there’s the mishandling of sensitive documents thing. The FBI executed a search warrant on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence last August. The raid uncovered a variety of documents marked “CLASSIFIED.” The files were allegedly mishandled – CLASSIFIED files shouldn’t be at a private residence, apparently.
The merits of each individual case – the tax fraud, the asset overvaluation, January 6th, and the CLASSIFIED documents – can be debated. Some are surely more legitimate than others. But the aggregate is clear: it’s a mess. For a candidate to campaign for president with this kind of baggage will be unique. If anyone can pull it off, it’s Donald Trump, but the world does seem to be closing in on him.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.