My play on the old cliché, “time heals all wounds,” is itself a cliché. But it’s also a comforting thought at a time when Donald Trump is about to lose his legal shield and when the hunting dogs of cosmic justice have caught the scent and are closing in on him.
It’s a comforting thought, but, alas, it’s not always true. Some heels die peacefully in their sleep. Joseph Stalin in Russia and Pol Pot in Cambodia come to mind. Others redeem themselves by becoming philanthropists in their old age, like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. But many heels go to the Guillotine, surrounded by a mob of witnesses who delight in watching the spectacle. A particularly ghoulish example in this country’s recent history was the murder trial of the football player O.J. Simpson.
Now it is Donald Trump’s turn for a reckoning. Forget the idea of Trump making a re-run for President in 2024. With mounting legal and financial challenges and (one suspects) undisclosed health problems, the idea will likely fade for him as time goes on.
Indeed, the old cliché holds special promise for Donald Trump. The accusations of criminal behavior go back several decades, from the inheritance of his family’s estate (The New York Times has done an exposé about it and his niece is currently suing him for fraud), to the repeated use of bankruptcy filings to stiff-arm creditors, wildly conflicting property valuations in tax filings and loan applications, and much more. Several lawsuits are currently awaiting Trump’s “retirement” from the immunity that he has enjoyed for the past four years, based on a debatable Department of Justice “opinion”. The Manhattan District Attorney and the State of New York are both closing in on him about tax fraud claims. And so are some women he reputedly abused and then slandered, with personal lawsuits against him.
Other legal problems are likely to emerge as the curtain is pulled back on some still-hidden actions by Trump even during his presidency. Did he, for instance, overcharge the taxpayers for the use of his properties for public business while he was in office? Overnight stays by Secret Service agents, for instance. There are also, most likely, more skeletons hidden in Trump’s closet that other Trump henchmen may, like his former lawyer Michael Cohen, be more willing to reveal now to avoid being prosecuted.
Another looming sand trap for Trump is the more than $400 million in indebtedness that is coming due very soon. He cannot escape from it by declaring bankruptcy again, as he has done six times with his various businesses. He is personally liable for this indebtedness, and his ability to raise the money from new loans is problematical. He has alienated many bankers and his business ventures are not doing all that well.
Finally, there is the Russian connection. In a recent blog item on “The Putin Tapes” (the padlocked recordings of Trump’s many phone conversations with the Russian leader), I detailed Trump’s deeply suspicious behavior toward Russia, a major U.S. adversary, including possibly criminal dealings between him and various Russian oligarchs. (For a detailed timeline of the relationship between Trump and his people and Russia, with more than 1500 entries, see the following link: https://billmoyers.com/story/trump-russia-timeline/ ) In another recent blog item, “It’s Time to Call it What it Is: ‘Treason’”, I detailed other dubious Trump actions as well.
Can Trump pardon himself and escape his “just desserts?” I very much doubt that even this deeply conservative Supreme Court will permit a Constitutional power intended to be used for altruistic purposes to be exploited by a President to serve his/her personal self-interest -- as a means to shield himself from the rule of law. It clearly violates the Founding Fathers’ intent. If Trump is brazen enough to try this ploy, he will only be delaying the executioner. Indeed, even in a “worst case,” the states are still free to try him. Trump is on his way to the Guillotine.