Guy Who Keeps Going to Court Keeps Making Less Sense
by Abby Zimet, courtesy of commondreams.org –
In New York, Trump spewed rage, hate, lies on the first day of a fraud trial that, thanks to a “mind-blowing” screw-up by his lawyers, will be decided solely by the judge he’s been savaging for days. Awkward. But given the current, erratic state of his mind — he beat Obama, Jeb Bush went to war in Iraq, windmills are killing whales, he’ll dampen California homes, everything he’s done was “perfect” — he may not have noticed.
Last week, Trump’s shoddy little empire got the “corporate death penalty” when Justice Arthur Engoron granted New York and fiery D.A Letitia James partial summary judgment on whether Trump, his two evil spawn and his company were legally liable for years of fraud.
Yup, the court ruled, finding he’d grossly, persistently inflated the value of his crappy assets on financial statements to get loans and make deals — tripling, say, the size of his gold-plated penthouse and upping the value of $18-to-$27 million Mar-a-Lago to as much as $612 to $739 million, a leap of over 2,300%. That way, Michael Cohen has testified, he could get better loans, nobody would call them, and he’d snag a dumbly-and-devoutly-to-be-wished higher spot on the Forbes list of rich guys; Trump, said another flunky, “liked to see it go up.”
In a nice little flourish, Engoron also unceremoniously stripped the Trump Organization of all their business licenses, and Trump of his gaudy, tinpot tycoon persona, ruling assets will be put in receivership and sold at bargain-basement prices. Somewhat like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, thus did he likely free grateful New Yorkers from their long, crass Trumpy curse and the pod people who came with it.
Unlike his earlier indictments, a pissed-off Trump showed up in court to sit scowling at the defense table; he told reporters he was there to “watch this witch-hunt myself”; but likely also to avoid being deposed in Florida after suing Michael Cohen. Above all, he wanted a venue to sound off beyond his ceaseless Truth Social stream of frantic rants at anyone daring to call him to account: A “corrupt and racist AG” and “horror show” who’s “preventing police from doing their job (as) people are being murdered all over the sidewalks of New York,” a “ROGUE, OUT OF CONTROL, TRUMP HATING JUDGE” whose “anger & hatred (is) unprecedented by those who’ve watched.”
At the courtroom before media and flash bulbs, he got still more bellicose, slamming Engoron as a “Democrat operative” and “a disgrace to people who call themselves judges.” “This guy’s getting away with murder,” he railed. “This is a judge that should be disbarred… should be out of office…some people say should be criminally charged.” (More pot/kettle!) Also, with frisky accordion hands, “Election interference,” the “greatest witch hunt of all time, “a sham and scam,” his “financial statements are phenomenal,” “everything was perfect,” “there was no crime – the crime is against me.”
Despite his rancor, the trial opened with a placid “Good morning” from a smiling Justice Engoron, who during almost three years of presiding over James’ lawsuit had already ruled repeatedly against Trump — made him sit for a deposition, held him in contempt, fined him $110,000 for his malarkey — before razing his crooked little real estate empire. A profile of Engoron, 74, reveals a smart quirky New York liberal who’s taught music, played in a bar band, presided over hundreds of cases ranging from free speech issues to dog custody fights, and peppers his rulings with song lyrics and movie quotes. In this trial, scheduled to run until late December, he’s tasked with deciding on monetary damages for Trump’s abuses; James’ lawsuit seeks $250 million.
Opening statements on both sides were shorter than expected. The state argued he long, knowingly overvalued his properties to “obtain benefits he was not entitled to,” raking in over $1 billion: “This is not business as usual…and these are not victimless crimes.” The defense said he made billions “by being right” about his “Mona Lisa properties,” the banks made over $100 million, and it didn’t really matter what he said on his financial statements because they had a disclaimer: “That is not fraud,” said Alina Habba. “That is real estate.”
Montage of 33 clips of the stupidest, most vile, insane, weirdest, addled dementia-ridden, psychotic statements made by Trump over the past two weeks. pic.twitter.com/iCbt5PtzBX
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) September 30, 2023
The bombshell of the day — after Trump endlessly whining an “unfair” judge “RAILROADED this FAKE CASE through (his) Court at a speed never seen before…denying me everything. No Trial, No Jury” — was that it was his inept lawyers who put his fate in the hands of a possibly inhospitable judge, not a jury of his (maybe in New York equally hostile) peers, by failing to check a box in routine paperwork, or as Engoron calmly put it, “Nobody asked for a jury trial.”
The fact this isn’t their first blunder — they’ve missed deadlines, repeatedly re-filed and been sanctioned for the same stupid motions, made basic legal errors (Engoron had to chide Habba, “Opening statements are not testimony” — suggests they’re not sending their best. Still, astounded legal experts slammed the not-checking-the-box fiasco as “mind-blowing” and “very ominous for him.”
By lunch break, it wasn’t clear Trump understood where the blame lay, but he was pretty busy: His “face like thunder,” he creepily glared at and loomed over James, like Hillary at the debate, on his way out, and then did a repeat, aggrieved performance before the press, fomenting violence against James — “You ought to go after this attorney general” — and raving again about a “ridiculous” judge “that (sic) already made up his mind.”
The “mind” of the purportedly leading GOP candidate for president, meanwhile, is increasingly a matter of debate. Even as the mainstream press gratingly maintain a “Biden Gaffe Watch” with inane stories like An 80-Year-Old President’s Whirlwind Trip — and Trump risibly boasts five years later about getting person/man/woman/camera/TV right — things are getting addled and toxic enough others are summoning the specter of 1930s Germany and noting, “Trump gave a speech. It was weird. Super weird. Why isn’t the media’s hair on fire?”
The AP called a recent speech to California Repubs “occasionally dark and profane”; others argued it was more accurately “some weird shit,” and not just because he jeered shoplifters would be shot on sight. He also said he won an election against Obama, you need ID to buy a loaf of bread, Marxists, atheists and “evil forces are destroying our country,” windmills are driving whales crazy, all the “dry canals will be brimming and used to irrigate everything including your homes and bathrooms – if you had dampened floors you wouldn’t have forest fires,” he thinks “they wanna keep you close to home – they’ve got some crazy plan,” and rich people from Beverly Hills “generally don’t smell so good.”
Then he gave a speech in Iowa — many farmers, few electric boats, fewer sharks, but despite “being cognitively all there,” it didn’t make much of an imprint — where he said sobbing farmers were coming up to him to “praise and thank” him: “They were crying, many of them crying. People that had never cried before.”
Slurring his words, Trump starts riffing about how he would rather be electrocuted to death than be eaten by a shark. pic.twitter.com/yqPrxWRzN3
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) October 1, 2023
He boasted about saving Christmas — “We brought back Christmas. We brought back a lot of things” — railed against “far-left lunatics,” and continued his vendetta against renewable energy by going off on electric cars that render their drivers “somewhat schizophrenic,” windmills “making whales a little bit batty,” and boats fueled by electric batteries too heavy to float that would ultimately electrocute him when they went down, still better than death at the teeth of his longtime nemesis, sharks.
“If I’m sitting down and that boat’s going down and I’m on top of a battery, and the water starts flooding in, I’m getting concerned. But then I look 10 yards to my left and there’s a shark,” he babbled. “So I have a choice of electrocution or a shark. You know what I’m going to take? Electrocution,” though he twists and mangles it into “eleculution.” “Electrocution! I will take electrocution every single time! Do we agree? Electrocution!” Yeah, sure, go for it.
And then he was in court in New York, still not getting it, giving a beaming, two-teeny-thumbs-up at day’s end thinking the judge had reversed himself on an earlier court ruling that would “knock out 80% of this sham case.” That night, he was back to whining as the hosts of late night TV returned after the writers’ strike to roast him; on Jimmy Kimmel, Arnold Schwarzenegger helpfully suggested the “6’3, strawberry-blond, 215 pound” perp could get in shape with “some laps around a jail cell.” Back in court Tuesday, Engoron began by correcting what Trump said on TV: He had not reversed himself, earlier abuses can be cited, and every lie “starts the statute of limitations running again.”
Trump took this news with his usual grace, slamming the case as a “fraud,” lashing out at Engoron’s law clerk Allison Greenfield — “She hates Trump more than he does” — and posting a photo of her with Chuck Schumer to charge, like any petulant 10-year-old, that “Schumer’s girlfriend” is running this case (and it) should be dismissed immediately.” The tantrum earned him a limited gag order from the judge banning him from “posting, emailing or speaking publicly about any of my staff.” Still, given the level of mad pestilence, one wearies of half-measures. Why not jail instead? Or sharks.