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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/17/23

The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump

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"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)

Again no picture. As I have said, there have already been many too many of the man in this space.


There have been a variety of "The Strange Case of(s)" in literature and history. There is "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," a novella by Robert Louis Stevenson (one of the most successful, and widely adapted [in film, at any rate], short novels in history). There is "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (also known as the "Strange Case of"), a movie starring Brad Pitt, Kate Blanchett, and Tilda Swinton (man, what a cast[!]. Then there is a book about none other than our subject here, entitled "The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump: A Psychological Reckoning," which indeed is a psychological study of the man. However, I am using the term here, for him, in the historico-political sense, neither fictional (although some of the "stuff" that Trump has pulled of in the course of his career [if you can call it that], in any other context than that of the man himself, would be considered fictional by most observers) nor psychological. For in U.S. history, "Trump's Case" is strange indeed (as will be explained below).

The question for many observers, including myself, is whether or not, if for one reason or another, the "strange Case" is finally coming to an end, whether in some mode of confinement (highly unlikely) or with the man living abroad, in one way or another. As detailed in this space to a limited extent and in many others to a very broad extent, Trump has lived what can be termed a very unusual life. As is well-known, for most of it he has been an investor (often with other peoples' money, so it has been said), e.g., in real estate, and a variety of unrelated industries --- e.g., steaks, beauty contests, an airline, a "university," neckties. He has also been able to license his name around the world, for use on items ranging from hotels to wall lamps.

In doing so, as it happened, Trump being of the combative and, it has been said, the not-entirely-above-board sort (see "Trump University"), he has been involved in a wide range of litigation, ranging from alleged contract violations (on both sides) to fraudulent presentation (as in the case of "Trump University," labeled a "sham" in the settlement). He has had numerous business failures (among the components of the list above) and well as bankruptcies, the most well-known of which can be gathered under the name "Atlantic City .

So. In and out of businesses for the whole of his adult life. Also, in and out of debt, in and out of bankruptcy (that is debt-writ-large), in-and-out-of-court, but also in-and-out of making money and, what turned out to be the most important element in the end, making an ever-bigger name for himself. The latter eventually put him, completely unqualified for the job --- many, including myself of course, holding that he was completely dis-qualified for the job in terms of intelligence, relevant experience, knowledge of government, and personality --- in where it put him. But, as we all know, for a wide variety of reasons, detailed in my own book and many others, he got it. And then he lost it. And then he made a wide-ranging attempt (mainly through a variety of means that have been, at one level or another, deemed to be illegal) to keep it, and now he is trying to get it back.

So, what makes this story a "strange Case?" Well, first, for the whole of his adult life and career Trump has been involved with the law and the courts. In part this has been because as he moved through his complicated business life, one of his guiding principles, one of what I have termed his "Seven Magic Tricks," was No. 3 on that list, learned from Joe (that's Joe, not Kevin) McCarthy's lawyer, Roy Cohn: "When in doubt, sue." And so, as well as being sued on numerous occasions, he has often sued others himself. Also, in the criminal system it's much harder to use No. 6, The Con.

"So," you might say, "he's been in court forever. And he is once again in "courts" (see the list below). "What's different this time around?" What's different is, to repeat, he is in criminal court system, not the civil court system. Different rules apply. Different standards prevail. As noted, the "delay, delay, delay," part of Trick No. 3 that he has used so successfully over the years in the civil-law system, is not as easy to use in the criminal-law system. Beyond that, and more significantly, there is a bunch of criminal court cases going on all at once. They make we observers' heads spin, to say nothing of Trump's.

The list includes (in no particular order of importance):

1. The revisiting of "Trump-Russia," the subject of the "Mueller Investigation," which has inadvertently been kept going, in the against-Trump-direction, by the vain attempt of Trump's Last Main Protector (Magic Trick No. 1) Bill Barr, to divert things through the "Durham Investigation" (which has done little other than to completely sully the reputation of Mr. Durham. Barr's reputation has been in no need of further sullying; he had taken care of that job himself.)

2. The "Mar-a-Lago-and-the-stolen/concealed documents" case, which covers a multitude of potentially criminal sins. It is one of the subjects of the special investigation of the DOJ's Jack Smith.

3. Then there's "Jan. 6" and Trump's possible direct and indirect role(s) in that event.

4. Coming back from the past, due to a special law passed in New York State permitting alleged sexual assault victims to bring their cases forward even though the original statute-of-limitations has passed, is the "E. Jean Carroll" alleged rape case.

5. Then there is the "Georgia election interference" case, in which some really juicy evidence, involving possible perjury by Grand Jury witnesses (one wonders who they might be) was coming out as I write this column. And of course, the possible suborning of perjury by Team Trump is at the center of this case.

6. Finally (in this list at least) there is the resurrection of the "Stormy Daniels/Hush-money-payment-to-The-National-Enquirer" case.

7. And maybe others that I have missed.

And so, to review, there are several factors that make this "The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump." First, to repeat, while the man has spent decades in the swamp(s) of civil litigation, he has never been in anything like this kind of swamp of criminal litigation. And of course, the worst kind of negative effect one can be subject to in civil litigation is loss of money. That's very different from the loss of personal freedom (as well of the loss of money in restitution/payment of fines, which can result from criminal litigation). Second, while many politicians have been the subject of criminal litigation, I cannot think of any who has had this many, totally unrelated, cases coming at him or her all at once. Third, Trump's "just sue/delay, delay, delay" trick (no. 3) which has rolled out countless times in the civil litigation system (in certain circles he is indeed known as "Don-Delay-Trump") simply does not often work in the criminal sector (as Trump just found out to his dismay in the "DNA-test-he-tried-to-introduced-much-too-late" in the Eugene Carroll rape case).

Of course, it's not just the cases themselves that make this Case strange. It's that an ex-President of the United Sates is the subject of the cases(s). It's that indeed they are outright criminal cases. It's that in at least one of them, the "Georgia case" one or more of his attorneys may be among those accused of lying to a grand jury, presumably on his behalf. It's that he and his supporters continue to scream that "the election was stolen." It's that number of lawyers, from Giuliani and Mitchell, and up or down (depending upon your point of view), have been trapped into one or more of the cases facing possible criminal action and/or discipline-up-to-disbarment themselves. It's that two of the most highly placed officials in Trump's administration --- that is Pence and Pompeo --- may have been directly involved in one or more of the "attempt-to-steal-the-election" events --- which would be one reason (wouldn't it?) why they are refusing to comply with subpoenas to testify under oath. (Note that each of those two is making plans to possibly run for the Presidency themselves. Oh my. The Republicans have some collection of potential nominees for the Presidency, in addition to Trump, don't they?)

And we can go on, and on, and on, on the subject of Trump's potential criminality. But another factor which makes this Case "Strange" is that while nothing has been proven in court yet, many, many observers, including myself, just know that he is "guilty-as-sin" of one or more of the crimes that have been charged (to date informally, of course --- no indictment(s) yet). Forgetting about what his opponents feel in our guts (based on the mounds of evidence publicly available so far), at some level, Trump, members of his family, former officials in his administration and campaigns, feel/know it too (just reflect upon what happened to Paul Manafort, Roger Stone (another Roy Cohn prote'ge') et al, for committing much less serious crimes).

That's what makes this Case truly strange. We are all wafting through a series of major events, centered on a President-Former-President, that have never before occurred in U.S. history (or in any other advanced capitalist country, to my knowledge). What happened to Nixon-Agnew-(Bill) Mitchell-Haldeman-Ehrlichman of "Watergate" fame? Peanuts compared with what is going-on-with/coming-down-on Trump and his entourage. Indeed, it is the Strange Case of Donald J. Trump. Where will it end? No one knows for sure. Readers of mine know that I think that Trump will flee the country before any legal authority that can/might want to detain him, can/will catch him. And that is the ultimate of strange: that a former President of the United States can find himself, as well as many colleagues present and former, and his millions of MAGA supporters, in this kind of situation. That, we might say, is the definition of "strange."

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY). As well as having been a regular political columnist on several national websites for over 20 years, he is the author/co-author/editor/co-editor of 37 books Currently, on the columns side, in addition to his position on OpEdNews as a Trusted Author, he is a regular contributor to From The G-Man.  In the past he has been a contributor to, among other publications, The Greanville PostThe Planetary Movement, and Buzzflash.com.  He was also a triathlete for 37 seasons, doing over 250 multi-sport races.  Among his 37 books (from the late 1970s, mainly in the health, sports, and health care organization fields) are, on politics: The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022; A Futuristic Novel (originally published 1996; the 3rd version was published by Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, Brewster, NY, sadly beginning to come true, advertised on OpEdNews and available on  (more...)

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