Why Trump Is So Desperate to Stay in the White House
(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Why Trump Is So Desperate to Stay in the White House
(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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There is a reason Donald Trump seems so desperate to hang on to his position as president of the United States. Over the weekend he reportedly  talked with attorney Sidney Powell and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn about trying to impose martial law in states he lost in order to hold new elections in the hopes that he could remain president. (Fortunately, the U.S. Army issued a statement publicly challenging the commander-in-chief.)

The reason for Trump’s seemingly erratic behavior is obvious, at least to us: Donald Trump knows that he may be arrested not long after Joe Biden is sworn in at about noon on Jan. 20, 2021.

Even if Trump attempts to pardon himself for any federal crimes, which is not clearly allowed under the Constitution, that won’t save him from criminal prosecution under New York state laws.  Recent news reports indicate that the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. (pictured) has a grand jury investigating Trump and perhaps others in the Trump Organization. 

The two us, both lawyers, worked together to be sure the Manhattan DA had all the documents that informed Michael Cohen’s Feb. 27, 2019, public testimony and opening statement before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Tens of millions of Americans and millions more abroad saw those documents on TV during the testimony.

Below are the five categories of Donald Trump’s criminal activities, any one of which could lead to his arrest for related individual state crimes:

1 Bank fraud and (2) Property tax fraudExhibits 1(a), (b), and (c), as shown on TV during the hearing, of Trump’s personal financial statements put him in jeopardy. These exhibits show that when it was to Trump’s advantage (so he could reduce the amount of property taxes he owed), he artificially depressed the value of an asset, such as his golf course in Westchester, N.Y. (See Exhibit 2, also posted on TV). But when it was to his advantage, he artificially inflated his assets -- sometimes on the same financial statement. “Artificially” is another word for fraud. And fraud is a crime, whether the purpose of the deception is to secure a bank loan or dupe Westchester County tax accessors to reduce his property taxes. 

3 Income tax fraud – Another example of a tax crime is inventing deductible expenses to save paying income taxes to the state. There is a probability that Trump declared as tax-deductible business expenses the hush-money payments he reimbursed me for paying off, upon Trump’s direction, an adult film star a few days before the 2016 election. Such tax deductions, if he or his organization made them, could be criminal. Moreover, Trump repaid me with six checks from his personal account for $35,000, and those checks, signed while president of the U.S., could be evidence of crimes under New York state law as part of a coverup and state tax fraud scheme. 

4 Commercial fraud – When Trump used an individual in July 2013 to make an inflated bid for his own portrait at a charity auction in the Hamptons, it’s possible that he committed a crime under New York state law. I know Trump did this because I was the one who set up a friend to go to the auction and bid $60,000 for the portrait. I also know records of this individual being subsequently secretly reimbursed for this amount by the Trump Foundation, which is also illegal (see Exhibit 3). We also know about this because Trump tweeted about it (knowing it was a fraud and the Tweet was – surprise! -- a lie): “Just found out that at a charity auction of celebrity portraits in E. Hampton, my portrait by artist William Quigley topped list at $60K.” This was also found in Exhibit 3.

5 The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1962, primarily to give the federal government a better ability to prosecute organized crime as “criminal enterprises.” But many states enacted their own versions of the federal RICO statutes. New York did so in 1986. In our view, there is little doubt that the many crimes committed by Donald Trump and associates in his “enterprise” called the Trump Organization could constitute a “Corrupt Racketeering Organization” under New York’s statute. 

In the recently published book “Disloyal,” I (Michael Cohen) characterized the Trump company as closely resembling a mob organization, with “Mr. Trump,” as he insists on being called, demanding blind reverence and loyalty. I also described it as a criminal enterprise conspiracy, with Trump acting much like the “Godfather” in his own mob family.  

So, if anyone is shocked at his increasing signs of paranoia, fear, and panic, it’s not just another day in the presidency of Donald J. Trump. It is the pattern of someone who is terrified of arrest, criminal conviction, and imprisonment.  

Certainly, incarcerating a former president would not bring this nation together, which is President-elect Biden’s self-described mission. Our own hope is that if Donald Trump is ever prosecuted and found guilty, a New York trial judge would devise a probation formula that would require substantial public service as well as transparency in any future business endeavors. In any event, we are convinced that along with his inability to ever admit failure, Trump’s fear of answering for his frauds in a criminal court of law is driving his divisive and dangerous delusions that he actually won the 2020 election. 

Michael Cohen served as Mr. Trump’s personal attorney for 10 years.

Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton, served as Mr. Cohen’s attorney before and after the Feb. 27, 2019, House Oversight Committee hearing.

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