Stop The Bully, Before It’s Too Late; Prosecute Trump Et Al
Imagine if Justice Department lawyers didn’t charge a top Mafia chieftan because they feared it would trigger a bloody war to anoint the new Mafia leader. If such advice were followed, there would be no need for the Department of Justice and all similar allegations could be decided by an appointed group who considers the political ramifications of such issues. The answer is for the Justice Department to consider issues of justice; leave the politics to the politicians. I hope Attorney General Merrick Garland is listening.
The maddening aspect of trump’s behavior is that, like a good Mafiosi, he never pulled the trigger although he ordered the hit. And like the godfather, trump surrounds himself with an army of lawyer and advisors and other henchmen to carry out his evil designs so that he doesn’t dirty his little hands. And he has cultivated a virtual army of right wing supporters who have vividly shown their appetite for violence in the name of their leader.
The answer to dealing with trump may be a law that was enacted in 1970, originally targeting organized crime and called the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization or RICO law. The law was aimed at prosecuting Mafia leaders who directed criminal activities even if they didn’t pull the actual trigger. It could be used to prove that trump ran a corrupt enterprise.
Prior to the enactment of the RICO law, prosecutors had to to individually try crimes that were mob-related. A different mob member would be prosecuted for a particular crime, but prosecutors could not take down the whole criminal organization at once. RICO gave prosecutors the ability to do this.
The RICO law requires prosecutors prove at least two predicate acts ranging from bribery and extortion to murder and other violations. One of the most successful applications of the RICO laws has been citing individuals for their behavior and actions committed against witnesses and victims in alleged retaliation or retribution for cooperating with federal law enforcement or intelligence agencies. Sounds topical.
The RICO statute provides for criminal penalties including 20 years in prison and a fine of either $250,000 or double the amount of proceeds earned from illicit activity. The prison time can increase to up to a life sentence depending on the underlying crime that was committed.
Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is very aware of the RICO statues. As the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in 1986, Giuliani successfully prosecuted 11 organized crime figures, including the heads of New York’s so-called “Five Families,” under the RICO Act on charges including extortion, labor racketeering and murder for hire.
The RICO law has been used against individuals not connected to organized crime. One of the first cases against a person with no ties to organized crime came in 1989, when financier Michael Milken was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and fraud relating to an investigation into alleged insider trading and other offenses.
Trump and his other lawyers are well aware of the RICO law, having filed a $24 million lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and others, claiming they were part of a corrupt enterprise that violated the 2016 election process. Trump’s lawyers filed an amended complaint on Tuesday, increasing the original 108 page complaint to 193 pages. Most of the defendants in trump’s lawsuit have claimed statute of limitations defenses as a complete bar to many or all of the claims. Trump claims that he has spent more than$24 million in legal costs and related expenses so far to defend himself against the alleged actions instigated by Clinton and others.
Much has been written about whether trump should be prosecuted for his crimes or whether an indictment and trial would take years and further rupture the country. Failing to prosecute trump would play into his common game plan of delaying, denying and disrupting. Trump is the neighborhood bully and like the bully, he will continue to abuse and his abuse will get worse, unless and until he is stopped. The only way to do that is to prosecute and convict and send a message that his kind of behavior will not be tolerated. Anything less will enable this neighborhood bully to continue to destroy our system of government. Just like the government cannot cower at the fear of a bloody mafia war, it cannot flinch from enforcing the law against trump and the many who have enabled him and broken the law in the process, including the likes of Giuliani, Rep. Paul Gosar,R-Ariz., Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, trump lawyer John Eastman, and many, many others.
Imagine the response if it was not trump but any other federal elected official who bullied a state or county official to find fraudulent votes and overturn an election. The prosecutors would be on that corrupt official like flies on feces and trump deserves no less. If trump is not stopped and held to the letter of the law, he will speed up his attempts to pollute our system and he’ll have plenty of help, as shown by more than 100 primary election winners across the nation who campaigned on trump’s false voter fraud claims. If trump prevails, there will be violence like we haven’t seen yet.
One of the victims of trump’s big lie was Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker. When trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes to give trump the victory over Biden, Trump berated Moss as an example of voter corruption, after Giuliani falsely claimed the woman had tampered with election results. That was tinder for trump supporters to begin an avalanche of threats, including when a mob pushed into the home of Moss’s grandmother.
Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Republican, also testified before the House select committee and was near tears when he said that trump tried to coerce him into violating the constitution and providing non-existent votes to put him back in the White House. In the ensuing weeks, he felt the wrath of trump supporters, who screamed at Bowers through bullhorns, filmed his home and led parades to ridicule him that featured a civilian military-style truck. At one point, a man showed up with a gun and was threatening Bowers’s neighbor.
Trump has not contacted either Moss or Bowers, if only to express sadness that the two officials have suffered since the election. Instead, On June 21, he posted in Donaldjtrump.com, “Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers is the latest RINO to play along with the Unselect Committee. In November 2020, Bowers thanked me for getting him elected. He said he would have lost, and in fact expected to lose, if I hadn’t come along. During the conversation, he told me that the election was rigged and that I won Arizona. He said he got more votes than I did which could never have happened. In fact, he said without me, he would have been out of office, and he expected to be prior to my coming along, and big Arizona rallies. The night before the election he walked outside with his wife and saw the tremendous Trump enthusiasm and told her, ‘You know what? Maybe I will win after all’ — and he did. Bowers should hope there’s not a tape of the conversation.”
Guess what, trump’s claims were all fabrications, they never happened. What a surprise.
Raffensperger and his deputy, Gabe Sterling, testified that in January, trump called to pressure them to “find” enough votes to reverse President Biden’s victory in the key swing state. Both defied trump, who threatened them with possible federal prosecution for not going along with his criminal plot.
On Sunday morning, trump posted, “The highly partisan Unselects are trying to create a FAKE narrative, for whatever reason but only with evil intention, that ‘He (me) knew he lost the Election.’ This is completely false. I felt the Election was RIGGED & STOLLEN, have from the very beginning, & have only gotten stronger in that belief with time & large amounts of additional evidence and proof.”
“In my mind I have, & HAVE HAD, NO QUESTION, and MANY people would be willing to so attest, but the Unselects don’t want to hear them…,” trump posted.
If only trump could spell “stolen,” maybe I could forgive him or maybe not.
On June 21, trump explained the call with Raffensperger as “A ‘PERFECT’ PHONE CALL to discuss a Rigged and StolenElection , and what to do about it, with many people, including lawyers and others, knowingly on the line.” I seem to recall another call that trump made in 2019 to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, when trump tried to blackmail Zelenskyy into finding dirt on Joe Biden’s son. That too, according to trump, was a “perfect” call, which led to trump’s first of two impeachments.
In considering trump’s fate, I’ll quote Jennifer Rubin’s column in today’s Washington Post. She said that any questions about trump’s intent and that he really believed the election was stolen were put to rest with the hearings; he was told the big lie about voter fraud was a big piece of bullshit, as former Attorney General William Barr put it.
“Forget the excuses about Trump’s ‘intent,’” Rubin wrote.
Secondly, Rubin urged Americans to remember that “Trump promoted violence against election officials;” that “State prosecutors in other swing states should start investigations;” and that “Voters should worry about the ‘clear and present danger’ from state election deniers.”