Trump’s dangerously pathological behavior exposed by Judge Engoron’s ruling
New York Attorney General Letitia James persevered in a long struggle to bring Trump to justice and she was successful. "No one is above the law," she declared after the verdict. | Alex Brandon/AP

NEW YORK—Former Republican Oval Office occupant Donald Trump not only committed massive financial frauds to build his real estate empire but his “complete lack of contrition and remorse” about them—when New York state caught him—“borders on the pathological,” the state judge who decided the case declared.

After fining Trump $355 million, New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron added that Trump was perfectly willing to keep committing fraud. So he banned Trump from doing so, by barring Trump from corporate office for three years—and barring his firm from borrowing, too.

This “is not the first time the Trump Organization or its related entities…engaged in corporate malfeasance. Of course, the more evidence there is of the defendant’s ongoing propensity to engage in fraud, the more need there is for the court to impose stricter injunctive relief,” Justice Engoron said.

“This is not the defendant’s first rodeo.”

Trump is spinning the verdict politically, former top Trump Organization official Barbara Res told cable TV after Engoron’s scathing decision on February 16. Trump’s MAGA supporters, plus “wealthy people who don’t care what happens to the (U.S.) Constitution,” eat it up, Res added.

Justice Engoron stripped real estate mogul Trump of any monarchical or management role in his firm or anywhere else for three years. He banned the Trump Organization—the family firm—from borrowing from any bank doing business in New York for three years and levied millions of dollars in fines and sanctions on his two sons and top aides Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney.

The justice also criticized the corrupt capitalism Trump engaged in, which the jurist said was rampant  in the Big Apple’s real estate market when Trump began his career: “In mid-20th century New York, to judge by contemporary press reports and judicial opinions, fraudsters were having a field day.”

And Trump kept doing so, Justice Engoron declared. Trump “repeatedly falsified business records with the intent to defraud” lenders, New York state, insurers and investors.

The verdict against Trump, the firm, the sons, and the aides was a big win for state Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James, who brought the case after four years of investigation. Trump repeatedly in and outside the court insulted James, Justice Engoron, his staff, and the whole trial. He bleats that it’s out to get him politically—a complaint he’s repeated in other courts and on the presidential campaign trail.

His bleats don’t fit the facts, Justice Engoron’s decision shows.

Trump, his two sons, Weisselberg, and McConney were all part of the fraud and of the conspiracy to commit financial fraud, the justice ruled. He banned the aides from the real estate business for life.

The outcome of these trials is important to workers

The outcome of this Trump trial and the others he faces, especially criminal trials in Atlanta and D.C., is important to workers since the verdicts could make or break Trump’s run to regain the White House this November. And if Trump wins it again, he could stop the D.C. trial, plus one in Florida, by ordering Justice Department toadies to drop them. But he can’t stop the state case in Atlanta.

If Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fani Willis—like James an African-American elected official—wins her racketeering and conspiracy case against Trump for trying to steal Georgia’s electoral votes in 2020, Trump could go to jail. And he couldn’t pardon himself from a state verdict.

Trump is the runaway leader for the Republican presidential nomination and has remade the party into a worship society. His platform is overtly and completely hostile to workers. It’s also contrary to his claims about being the friend of the white working class.

If he regains the Oval Office, which he held from 2017-21, Trump—who unconstitutionally tried to retain it by ordering and aiding the Jan. 6, 2021, Trumpite invasion and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol—has a detailed agenda to cripple if not kill unions, especially federal worker unions. He tried it in his prior term, too. Federal unions challenged his agenda in court, losing in federal appellate court.

Trump also would refuse to raise the minimum wage, stop job safety and health enforcement, trample on workers’ rights, and let his corporate cronies run roughshod over their workers by undoing labor law protections, among other anti-worker moves, the platform says.

All this from what Justice Engoron’s 93-page ruling portrays: Trump is not a consummate business executive, but a consummate con man. With bankers, insurers, investors, and New York as victims.

“Defendants did not commit murder or arson. They did not rob a bank at gunpoint,” the justice wrote. “Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways. Instead, they adopt a ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ posture that the evidence belies. Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological. The frauds found here leap off the page and shock the conscience.” But not Trump’s.

“This court is not constituted to judge morality. It is constituted to find facts and apply the law. In this particular case, in applying the law to the facts, the court intends to protect the integrity of the financial marketplace and, thus, the public as a whole. Defendants’ refusal to admit error indeed, to continue it, constrains this court to conclude they will engage in it going forward unless judicially restrained” through court orders and injunctions, which he issued.

Trump was aware

“Donald Trump was aware of many of the key facts underpinning various material fraudulent misstatements,” Justice Engoron stated. “He was aware of having deeded away the right to use Mar-a-Lago”—his Florida estate—”as anything other than a social club, and notwithstanding, continued to value it as if it could be used as a single-family residence.

“He was aware the triplex apartment in which he, a real estate mogul and self-identified expert, resided for decades was not 30,000 square feet, but actually 10,996 square feet.

“He was aware he had permission to build only 500 private residences in Aberdeen”—his Scottish golf course—”notwithstanding that he represented he had permission for 2500.” Trump actually built none, the justice reported. “And he was aware 40 Wall Street,” a Trump skyscraper in lower Manhattan, “was operating at a deficit despite proclaiming it was running a net operating income of $64 million.”

The only break the justice gave Trump in his ruling was to rescind a preliminary order to Special Master Barbara Jones, a retired judge, to break up the Trump real estate empire. But Justice Engoron wants a report from her in a month on her oversight plans for his properties.

“As Eric Trump testified, Donald Trump sat at the top of the pyramid of the Trump Organization until 2017,” the justice said. “Donald Trump professed to know more about real estate than other people and to be more expert than anybody else. He repeatedly falsified business records with the intent to defraud.”

Trump is angry at the verdict, but also is playing it for political purposes, says Res, a former—18-year—Trump Organization executive who previously wrote a “tell-all” insider’s book, Tower Of Lies, about Trump and the firm.

“I don’t think he likes getting buffeted around and things being said about him that are so awful,” Res told MSNBC after the verdict. “But I think that he is OK with it to the extent he can spin it and he’s already started that.

“I think in his heart he believes, one, he’s gonna get away with it, and two, he can make money off of this somehow, getting more fundraising, more people to feel sorry for him.

And Trump’s supporters will stick with him despite all the evidence and all the verdicts, Res said. Those backers include not just his MAGAites, who cheer on his racism, sexism, and xenophobia, but “wealthy people who don’t care what happens to the Constitution.”

Trump has already said, and repeated, that he would suspend the Constitution, “at least on day one,” if he wins the White House again. Nobody—including Democratic President Joe Biden—believes he’d stop then.

Biden has made Trump and the Trumpite/MAGAite threat to the Constitution and to freedoms the people of the U.S. take for granted a major campaign theme.

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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.