The Impossibility of Ever Being Shocked by a Trump Crime
On Wednesday, New York State Attorney General Letitia James, in the culmination of a three-year investigation, announced a “sweeping” lawsuit the state was filing against Donald Trump and the Trump Organization, one that, she made explicit, she planned on referring to federal investigators for potential criminal charges. The suit runs 219 pages long and details how the Trump Organization defrauded clients, artificially inflated their value of their property and lied about its total net worth. James went into explicit, granular detail about the scope of the Trump Organization’s crimes, and she was organized, clear and quite credible. I believed every word she said, and I am certain she has it all backed up with proof.
Is it perhaps OK that I still felt a bit underwhelmed?
This is not because of James, who is doing exactly what you want your law enforcement officials to do: Enforce the law, and hold everyone, no matter how wealthy or powerful, accountable. We are fortunate to have public servants like her putting in the work. For all the exhaustion and despair many Americans feel on a daily basis, this is how you fight back against the shameless and venal: By calling out their bad deeds and holding them up for account.
It’s not about her. It’s about Trump.
One of the specifically sinister things about Trump is that, for one of the most artificial human beings in American history, Trump, himself, does not have a lot of surface artifice. Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, among others, were always desperate to hide their misdeeds, to disguise their inherent shadiness. Trump is so out in the open with his avarice — so plainfully, obviously corrupt, in a way that’s almost proud, even exhibitionist — that the bar for outrage over his conduct is higher than any other person’s on the planet … and gets a little higher every day.
James explained, intricately, each of the crimes she had proof of the Trump Organization committing, the sort of things that have felled empires for centuries: Fraud, improper accounting, blatant deception. She was forceful and compelling. But at this point, what could she have said that was shocking? She detailed all sorts of frauds and…