The New York Trump case embodies the defendant

The New York Trump case embodies the defendant

George T. Conway III writes:

Not all that long ago, I thought that the trial currently being held in The People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump would be the last one I’d want to see as the first one tried against the former president. It seemed the least serious of the cases against him. Here’s a man who tried to overthrow American democracy by launching a coup to stay in power. A man who allegedly stole dozens of boxes of classified national-security documents from the White House, some containing secrets about other countries’ nuclear-weapons capabilities, then lied about the documents, concealed them, and obstructed a federal investigation about them.

I thought I would have strongly preferred the cases about those matters to have gone first, particularly the secret-documents case, which substantively would be a lock, were it not for the judge overseeing it. But I feel the need to admit error. The truth is, I’ve come around to the view that People v. Trump is, in at least some ways, the perfect case to put Trump in the dock for the first time, and—I hope, but we’ll see—perhaps prison.

Because this case really captures Donald Trump. The legal commentariat have been engaged in an odd debate about what to call it. “The Stormy Daniels case.” “The hush-money case.” “The porn-star-hush-money case.” (Personally, that’s always been my favorite, and I think it sounds even better in German—Pornostarschweigegeldrechtsfall.) The more legally precise would like it to be known as “the New York business-records-falsification case,” because that’s what the New York penal code says it is. Some high-minded people I know prefer “the New York election-interference prosecution,” because it involves the concealment of a matter that might well have affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential race.

All these locutions work, but what the case is really about is Trump’s modus operandi—lying. He’s a matryoshka doll of mendacity. He lies, usually lies some more, and then often lies about the lies he’s previously told. He told at least 30,573 lies while president, by The Washington Post’s count. He lies almost whenever he opens his mouth, even when truth would better serve him. To be sure, his other criminal cases involve lies—lies about the 2016 election, lies about the military secrets he stole. But the alleged lies in People v. Trump strike at the core of his moral putrescence—and Trump knows it. They are lies allegedly meant to cover up a tawdry man’s tawdry behavior. The case truly embodies Donald Trump. And for that reason, I think, it deeply disturbs him. [Continue reading…]

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