One of the ideas which floats around the anti-Trump world is the idea (or the hope) that if Trump is booted out of the White House on January 20, 2021, that he’ll be indicted, convicted and wind up in jail. The latest missive in this regard is a piece in New York Magazine which, generally speaking, has been running some pretty good reportage about Trump. But that’s not surprising given that they have been dealing with him now for more than 30 years and the magazine was never part of the pro-Trump media gang.
Be that as it may, the current story about what could happen to Trump if he becomes just another private citizen has some punch behind it but also more than one miss. What an indictment might look like has to do with Trump’s endless efforts to convince the world that he’s the richest guy around. And since in his book, wealth equals achievement, if he’s the richest guy, then he’s also an over-achiever, which is what he has been saying about himself both before and during his Presidential run.
Going on Twitter or standing in front of a campaign rally and lying about how much you’re worth isn’t a crime. It may be infantile, it may be obnoxious, it may be self-aggrandizing bullshit, but you can’t get indicted just for saying something which happens not to be true.
On the other hand, if you lie about how much money you have when you’re trying to convince a bank to give you a loan, that’s a crime. It’s called fraud. If you then try to back up your false claims by submitting a tax return based on business records that you ‘cooked’ so that you are hiding your true worth, that’s also a crime. It’s called fraud.
I don’t think Trump has been trying to keep Cy Vance, the Manhattan DA, from getting his hands on his tax returns because he’s worried about being charged with fraud. I think he wants the returns to remain closed because an honest review of the data would show that Trump isn’t worth anywhere what he says he’s worth. At which point, the image he has created to sell himself to the voters would quickly come tumbling down.
I can tell you from personal experience that Trump makes statements about his ‘billions’ of dollars which are no different from the guy who tells you that he just caught a 12-foot sea bass when the longest such creature ever seen had a length of about 9 feet. In my case, I am referring to the impossibly out-of-this world valuations that Trump puts on his golf courses, most of which were rundown courses that he bought on the cheap, spruced up, added a spiffy clubhouse and a decent restaurant and now you’re playing the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Except you’re not. Not only are you playing on a course which went broke because the previous owners couldn’t make it work, but you often might find that you are the only one playing the course. I drove over the Whitestone Bridge last year which gives you a very clear view of Trump’s Ferry Point golf course. On all 18 holes in the middle of a sunny day I counted a grand total of 4 golf carts and not a single golfer playing without a cart.
The golf industry generally values golf courses at one to two times annual revenue at best. Trump values these properties at somewhere around $600 million; given the total revenues from these courses, a more realistic figure would be somewhere around $200 million at best.
Now again, what Trump says about himself to others, even if the ‘others’ are a large, raucous campaign crowd, there’s no law under which he could be prosecuted or even charged. The truth is, I would like it even more if Trump is rejected by the voters for reasons having nothing to do with his braggadocio about his net worth.
It’s not his lying that needs to be corrected on November 4th. It’s his presence, no matter what he says.
IN MEMORIAM AND WITH GREAT SADNESS- RUTH BADER GINSBURG