Newly wealthy Trump is constantly aided by courts on all levels
The newly rich Trump is the recipient of judicial leniency unavailable to anyone else in the United States. | Seth Perlman/AP

NEW YORK—Judges up and down the East Coast, starting with the U.S. Supreme Court, are—with one or two exceptions—greasing the skids to let Donald Trump get away with his multitude of crimes.

On top of all of that Trump is celebrating the news that he is newly wealthy again, at least on paper. He merged his media site, Truth Social, with another firm, and now runs the combined company. It debuted on the American Stock Exchange at a high enough price to make his stock holdings worth $3 billion. The catch is he can’t move any of his stock for at least six months. He may be able to pull off maneuvers, however, that could change that.

The Appeals Court in New York came to his aid by drastically cutting the amount of the judgment against him that he has to cover almost immediately. Trump could raise the smaller amount by borrowing even from foreign banks with no court stopping him. Doing so, however, would leave him as president, and more importantly the country, vulnerable to malign foreign influence. All his lenders, foreign or domestic, would have to do to get him to kowtow to their demands is to threaten to call in the loans.

Alternatively, New York Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James, who brought the financial fraud case, could appeal the lower court’s cut in the amount Trump owes to the New York State Court of Appeals, the Empire State’s top tribunal. Her appeal would delay an ultimate decision until after the election, which is what Trump wants—even if he can’t throw out New York’s case, as he could in federal courts.

The crimes range from his financial finagling that cheated New York of taxes and his lenders of the actual value of his properties to his aid, abetting and ordering the Jan. 6, 2021, Trumpite invasion, insurrection, and attempted coup d’état at the U.S. Capitol.

The Supreme Court has halted the trial on that issue while it ponders Trump’s demand for permanent immunity from prosecution, as a former Oval Office occupant. Now, only current presidents enjoy such immunity, decreed by a 1999 Justice Department memo.

The rulings mean the judiciary, supposedly a bulwark of democracy and the republic, has delayed the former White House denizen’s courtroom accountability until after the November election in almost all cases. Which is precisely what he wants with his stall ball game.

If Trump wins that rerun election against Democratic incumbent Joe Biden, Trump’s own engineered delays, skillfully pushed by his lawyers, won’t matter in the top cases. He’ll just appoint toadies to the Justice Department who will ask the courts to dismiss them.

The pro-Trump court rulings are important to workers because, as this year’s Republican nominee, he would be in a position, if elected this fall, to implement drastic anti-worker and anti-union policies.

His policies would include freezing the federal minimum wage, destroying OSHA enforcement, rolling back worker protections the National Labor Relations Board and the Labor Department order businesses to follow, and actually trying to destroy unions.

In his first term, Trump did just that, against a small union of federal immigration judges. His appointees declared all of them were “policymakers” and thus supervisors whom labor law does not cover.

And Trump’s White House advisers in his first term tried all those policies, and more, with federal worker unions as their guinea pigs. Courts rejected most—but not all—of Trump’s moves. The most notable Trump win barred OSHA from enforcing anti-virus protection rules against firms that ignored both their workers’ health and their customers’ health during the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest judicial move helping Trump occurred in New York, when an appellate court, but not the state’s top court, cut the damages Trump owes the state for financial fraud from over half a billion dollars to $175 million.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s stall has delayed the trial in federal District Court in D.C. on charges directly related to what even Trump now calls “the insurrection.” There Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith introduced evidence showing Trump robbed voters of their rights to have their ballots honestly and equally counted, by his attempts to steal the 2020 election.

Claims total immunity

Trump declares that as a former White House occupant, he enjoys absolute immunity from criminal prosecution, forever, not just when he inhabited the Oval Office. That flies in the face of the statement from one leader of Trump’s numerous congressional enablers, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

After voting not to convict Trump in impeachment proceedings for leading and aiding the insurrection– prompting other Senate Republicans to follow him like lemmings—McConnell gave a blistering speech blaming Trump for the insurrection and invasion. And McConnell noted Trump was now open to criminal prosecution, as a private citizen.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan originally planned to begin that trial on the insurrection charges just before Super Tuesday. Now it’s been delayed so long that—if it begins at all—it will run into autumn.

Smith is still pushing for an early trial date so voters will know, before they go to the polls, if Republican nominee Trump is also federal felon Trump.  But a Supreme Court pro-immunity ruling for Trump kills that trial. So would Trump appointees in the Justice Department.

They’d also fire Smith. Given Trump’s vindictiveness, they might try to indict him, in retaliation.

Meanwhile, down in Florida, federal District Judge Aileen Cannon is slow-walking the case charging Trump with illegally purloining the secret papers from the White House four years ago and then disclosing them to unauthorized people, including an Australian business magnate. The secret papers include a Pentagon plan for war on Iran and how many nuclear missiles are on each U.S. submarine.

Smith wants to start that trial, originally scheduled for May, in July. Trump’s lawyers want it to start after the election—again leaving open the possibility that Trump Justice Department toadies could later tell Judge Cannon they’re dropping the case. That would let Trump walk.

Trump’s lawyers in Atlanta tied up the wide-ranging state racketeering and conspiracy case against him by charging that Fulton County (Atlanta) DA Fani Willis had a conflict of interest because—they alleged—she was in “a romantic relationship” with the top investigator she hired on the case. The judge there wound up delaying the racketeering case while ruling that either Willis or the investigator had to quit the trial. The investigator did.

Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee also threw out six of the counts against Trump, ruling Willis’s charges needed more details in back of them. One of the six involved Trump’s infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican and its top elections official, demanding Raffensperger “find” 11,780 popular votes for Trump—enough to give him Georgia’s electoral votes by one popular ballot.

In short, to steal the election, at least in Georgia.

One Trump case is moving forward, starting with jury selection on April 15. But it has nothing to do with the 2020 campaign. Instead, it’s on 34 counts covering whether Trump, through his “fixer” Michael Cohen, paid hush money during the 2016 presidential campaign to former adult film star Stormy Daniels to cover up their affair, then hid them as business expenses.

In a March 25 hearing, with Trump in attendance, Trump’s lawyers demanded Judge Juan Merchan toss the indictment out or further delay the trial. He said “No.”

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.