Will Donald Trump go to prison?Thursday, July 29, 2021
Breaking news! On July 1 The Trump Organization and its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Allen Weisselberg were indicted by the offices of the Manhattan district attorney and the New York attorney general. The 15-count indictment emanating from a two-year investigation of a 15-year US$1.7-million scheme speaks to a plot to defraud tax authorities. In summation the charge reads: “The scheme was intended to allow certain employees to substantially understate their compensation from the Trump establishment so that they could and did pay federal, state, and local taxes in amounts that were significantly less than the amount that should have been paid.”
Allen Weisselberg, the largest beneficiary, is purported to have received undisclosed remuneration in the form of rent, car payments, and school tuition for his grandchildren. Nonetheless, the tables could turn to incorporate others, such as members of the Trump caste, even Trump himself. With accusations swirling around the former president, most notably tax evasion, undercover monetary transactions to women for sexual favours, improper property evaluations, and employee compensations, his ability to escape his empire's debacle unscathed is questionable.
To date, a collaborative and meticulous examination of the accusations have resulted in the deployment of former prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, an expert in white-collar and organised crime cases, alongside FTI Consulting, a forensic accounting outfit, and the engagement of key players, such as Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, Jennifer Wiesselberg, the CFO's former daughter-in-law and the organisation's Senior Vice-President and Controller Jeff McConney.
Furthermore, the unearthing of damaging documentation of Trump's relationships with lenders and tax deductions his company claimed on millions of dollars for consultancy has aroused unending chatter within the school of public opinion.
Those who deem “the former guy” as being beyond reproach may argue in deference to the office of the presidency that an outgoing president of the United States should not be the subject of criminal punishment as such would set an unacceptable precedent. To reinforce this school of thought they may mistakenly allude to Watergate, which concluded with President Gerald Ford's pardoning of his predecessor Richard Nixon.
In contrast, the sceptics may reference Trump as an enigma for having weathered the storm in relation to sex scandals and two impeachments — the latter of which would have destroyed any other head of State, regardless of race, sex, gender, and/or political persuasion. They may, likewise, pay equal attention to his overarching personality that has been demonstrated through the acquisition of numerous credits from exceptional financial institutions such as Deutsche Bank to unstoppable influence within the Republican Party and beyond.
Some legal scholars, inclusive of former US attorney Preet Bharara, may even preference exemption on the premise that the prosecution references two corporations functioning as The Trump Organization. Moreover, it is their perspective that the case is void of a serious criminal offence, in particular bank or insurance fraud or money laundering, which would most certainly draw the attention of the US State Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss.
As prosecutors compare internal documents with data provided to financiers and local tax authorities in an effort to determine fraudulent behaviour, others are convinced the curtains are closing on the Trump production. For starters, a pardon is only applicable in federal cases and cannot deter prosecution under the aforementioned circumstance. In addition, the shield of the office of the presidency, which provided fortification during Stormy Daniels' tantalising revelations and the Mueller investigation, is not afforded him as a private citizen.
While the pursuit to chastise Trump may be attributed to his unpresidential conduct, his disregard for decorum within the public domain, blatant negligence regarding the execution of duty, and vindictiveness towards one-time allies and foes alike fail to meet judicial standards and are otherwise pointless in a court of law. Consequently, Trump's alleged criminal fiasco seeks a resounding deduction to the following questions: Is he guilty of tax evasion and if so, can it be proven legally?
To that end, the jurisdictions in question continue to request compliance with the submission of germane evidence. As to whether such an appeal will result in cooperation from his point man, Weisselberg, is yet to be determined.
What is also ambiguous is this enduring probe; hence, Trump's fate may not depend on his second in command as many so adamantly speculate but others — namely his Senior Vice-President and Controller McConney or even his adult children, Donald Jr, Eric, and Ivanka.
Trump's danger zone also extends to the state of Georgia, where Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, with the aid of external expertise, is exploring whether audio recordings and other forms of communication between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger could lead to criminal charges. In essence, did he violate the state election laws by soliciting election fraud and airing false statements to state and local government entities? Was he involved in conspiracy, racketeering, violating the oath of office, and invoking threats relating to the election?
Adding insult to injury is the Attorney General for the District of Columbia Karl Racine who is reviewing all pertinent and available human and material resources to determine the possibility of criminal intent on January 6 on the citadel of American democracy.
There are also personal lawsuits pending against the 74-year-old one-term president, one of which is journalist, author, and columnist E Jean Carroll's rape and defamation charges against him.
Trump has successfully satisfied penalties involving his defunct university and foundation, yet the circumstances at hand are of a different nature and thus require compelling verification to refute. Considering the court's record of conviction on associated inquiries if charged, which seems highly plausible, the 45th president of the United States of America will not only be the first of his kind to be twice impeached, but also the first to transfer residence from opulence to a prison cell.
Leroy Binns is a lecturer in the Department of Government at The University of the West Indies, Mona. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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