The long-awaited criminal charges against the Trump Organization were handed down yesterday by Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York State AG Letitia James. The company and its CFO Allen Weisselberg have been hit with fraud and tax crime charges in relation to what Vance’s office described as a “sweeping and audacious illegal payments scheme.” The indictment also includes references to an “Unindicted Co-conspirator #1” who was allegedly involved in underreporting Weisselberg’s income for tax evasion purposes. Speculation as to the identity of this individual has since run wild.
Not surprisingly, the Trump family is not taking the news of the criminal charges well and several of them have tilted into full aggrieved victim mode. Eric Trump, an Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization, had something of a meltdown about the criminal allegations.
His big brother Donald Trump Junior, who is an Executive Vice President for the company as well, also weighed in on the family’s bad news last night. During an appearance on Fox News Primetime, the former president’s son raged against the Manhattan DA’s office in his trademark unhinged fashion.
“This is what Vladimir Putin does,” Don Jr. whined. He went on to slam the DA’s office for wanting “to charge a guy who’s 75 years old on crimes of avoiding paying taxes on a fringe benefit,” as if Weisselberg’s age makes his crime any less of a crime.
Donald Jr. went on to dismiss the charges against Weisselberg by arguing that the money that should have been taxed, “$136,000 over 16 years” or as he incorrectly stated “10 grand a year,” is inconsequential. To most Americans who can neither rely on massive inherited wealth or the accountants and lawyers necessary to evade taxes, that amount of money is no small deal. That Donald Trump Jr. thinks so says volumes about how out of touch he is with reality and how insulated he is by ill-gotten wealth.
“This is a farce. It’s a disgrace that they spent millions of dollars and years, instead of prosecuting actual murderous thugs on the streets of New York, they go after their political enemies,” Donald Trump Jr. went on, working himself into a tizzy. He referred to the charges as “banana republic stuff,” a term that would far more accurately describe the way his father staffed his government with unqualified family members.
“It’s a disgrace. They drop it on a Thursday night, going into 4th of July weekend because they know it’s a disgrace,” he added. “They know that the people that they’re playing to, the rich, liberal New Yorkers. They’re in the car, probably their corporate car, going out to their homes in the Hamptons right now, so they don’t see it and realize how much of an embarrassment it is. It’s a disgrace, and it needs to be called out.”
The entire performance has a whiff of Shakespeare’s “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” If there is really nothing for the Trumps to worry about with these criminal charges they wouldn’t need to send the former president’s deranged son on television to rail against them. They’re worried. That much is clear and now only time will tell if their worst fears play out. For the sake of justice, let’s hope they do.
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