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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/29/22

Trump Flees

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

Well Brazil is one place he won't be able to go now.
Well Brazil is one place he won't be able to go now.
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org), Author: Palácio do Planalto from Brasilia, Brasil)
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Throughout the course of his life, Donald J. Trump has been known as many things: Papa's Boy, poor student, draft-dodger, Ladies' Man, sexual predator, real estate magnet, casino magnet (then not), racist, Con Man (World's Greatest), Proud Papa (of certain of his children), President (and oh yes, plotter to overthrow U.S. Constitutional Democracy), champion sue-er, consummate liar, squirmer-out-of-situations-that-would-have-brought-just-about-anybody-else-down, and so on and so forth. But "brave," "courageous," "believer-in-justice" have never been among the terms applied to him.

And now Trump is in really serious legal difficulty. He has faced legal challenges before, most commonly in his various businesses. They have usually been related to mis-representation or other kinds of commercial cheating-not-rising-to-the-level-of-criminality (e.g., the "Trump University" case, in which settlement he admitted no wrong- doing and apparently got a $25million tax deduction). He has managed to dodge (so far) a variety of potential rape/sexual misconduct cases. He has also managed to dodge a list that even as of Feb. 2022 amounted to 19 separate actions of one sort or another against him. BUT, those came primarily (although not entirely) in the form of suits of various kinds. One criminal action in that set, the one against Mr. Weisselberg, ended in the latter's conviction, with implications of guilty behavior on the part of the Trump organization, but not Trump himself. (Trump's response to the conviction could be characterized as "Weisselberg? Hardly knew him.")

The Daily Kos has estimated that Trump is actually facing fifty-five different criminal cases, including multiple obstruction-of-justice and criminal-solicitation-conspiracy potential actions. And then there is the E. Jean Carroll sexual assault case, which could conceivably bring along with it a criminal charge of rape. (One should also mention the findings of the Mueller Report: about 75 instances of possible Trump-Russia collusion plus 7-8 instances of obstruction of justice. But of course, almost singlehandedly "Attorney General" Barr (actually Trump's in-house lawyer) made sure that nothing would come of it. And apparently there is other "stuff" not-yet-public going on that may bring additional criminal charges.

But now things are beginning to change significantly for Trump, in a direction that he has never had to follow before, with charges of a type that he has never had to deal with before. As is well-known, Trump faces four different kinds of criminal actions arising out of the work of the "Jan. 6 Committee" (see also Appendix I): 1. Obstruction of an Official Proceeding; 2. Conspiracy to Defraud the United States; 3. Conspiracy to Make a False Statement; 4. Insurrection.

Then there are: the "Georgia Case," based to begin with on the clear, recorded, instance of his soliciting fraudulent behavior from the Secretary of State; the "Mar-a-Lago Case," involving the theft of Federal government property by a private citizen, including the theft of highly secret "intelligence-related" documents; and the potential for multiple charges of income tax evasion at both the Federal and New York State levels. (Many folks have guessed as to why Trump did not want his tax records released; as folks begin to go through them, we are beginning to know why he did not then release them for sure, beginning with the enormous [claimed] losses in certain years [and for large claimed deductible cash charitable donations little or no paperwork was provided to back them up] combined with the pitifully small amounts of tax paid.)

But right up front and widely discussed are the cases that have been referred to a DOJ Special Prosecutor that by themselves are a load for Trump. The Special Prosecutor, Jack Smith (who is taking time off from auditioning to be cast as the next James Bond) is responsible for the investigations of both "Jan. 6th" and the conspiracy that led to it, and the "Mar-a-Lago" documents theft. The cases related to Jan. 6 are of course politically-loaded, in that, for example, about 140 Republican members of the House have lined up behind the "Election was stolen" movement. But as for the "Mar-a-Lago theft," it is harder to defend against without using the total law-defying fiction that somehow the documents, including top-top-top secret ones belonged to Trump. Then add income evasion, to be handled by the IRS (to say nothing of "Georgia"). As Congressman Jamie Raskin has said, Trump could end up spending the rest of his days in prison.

That is a BIG "Could." But it is a definite possibility. And so, I am projecting here (and yes, this is purely speculative; I have seen no evidence to support the speculation) that if Trump were to become convinced that none of his Seven Magic Tricks would work this time around, that not being a risk-taker with his own money (although he has taken plenty of risks with other people's money), he would choose to leave the country while he could still get out with a significant chunk of it (although no one knows at this point exactly how big a chunk that would be). The most important point here about what would be going on in his head is that, like any criminal, from common to mob boss, he knows that he is guilty of one or more of the crimes listed above. And being a man of no courage, he would not be sticking around to face the music.

Where would/could he go? But the nation would have to have several very important attributes. First, it would have to be one that would accept a criminally-charged-fleeing-ex-President-of-the-United-States. Second, it would have to be one that has no extradition treaty with the U.S. (In Appendix II you will find a short list, with pro's and con's for Trump of each.) Third, it would have to be a place that could afford Trump the life-style/surroundings to which he is accustomed (assuming that he would be able to get enough money out of the U.S. to create such a surrounding). Fourth, it might have to be one which, given the first three (which are the most important for him) might allow him to set up a government-in-exile. Is this the stuff of fiction? Well for now, yes. But given Trump, definitely NOT brave or courageous, hey you never know.

And how will he be brought to account, if that indeed does happen? I think that one of the two crimes not on this list, that are described above (that is the theft of documents and income tax evasion), would be easier to prove in court, beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Postscript on Trump and George Santos. No, they are not the same kind of political animal. Trump is liar. That is, when he is not telling the truth, he knows it. Santos is a fabulist. When he is not telling the truth he doesn't realize that he is not, at least at the time(s) he is making the untrue statements.

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Appendix I: "The Four Crimes Arising from the Jan. 6 Attempted Insurrection"

"Trump's Four "Jan. 6" crimes (Click Here):

"I. Obstruction of an Official Proceeding (18 U.S.C. Â 1512(c))
"The Justice Department has used this charge, passed in the wake of the Enron accounting scandal to address evidence tampering, against nearly 300 alleged rioters they say tried to prevent Congress from formally counting Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. The law punishes "whoever corruptly alters, destroys, mutilates or conceals a record, document or other object"or otherwise obstructs, influences or impedes any official proceeding." This is one of the two offenses the committee included in Mr. Eastman's referral.

"II. Conspiracy to Defraud the United States (18 U.S.C. Â 371)
This broadly written statute prohibits agreement to obstruct a lawful function of the government by deceitful or dishonest means. In March, a federal judge said Mr. Trump's post-election conduct likely violated this law, as well as the obstruction statute described above. This is the second offense in Mr. Eastman's referral.

"III. Conspiracy to Make a False Statement (18 U.S.C. Â Â 371, 1001)
A commonly prosecuted statute, 18 U.S.C. Â 1001, prohibits making false statements to the government. The committee said that by submitting a "false slate" of presidential electors, Mr. Trump and his allies may have engaged in a conspiracy to violate this statute.

"IV. Insurrection (18 U.S.C. Â 2383)
This statute makes it a crime to assist or engage in "in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws." Recommending this charge was a particularly aggressive move. The Justice Department hasn't brought an insurrection charge in any of the roughly 900 criminal prosecutions relating to Jan. 6."

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Appendix II Short list of countries with no extradition treaties with the U.S.

1) The Maldives (in the Indian Ocean, pleasant climate, isolated); 2. Bosnia and Herzegovina (part of the former Yugoslavia, not too far from Melania's home country, Slovenia [there probably are good train connections]); 3.Cambodia (not likely for obvious reasons); 4. Morocco (some very luxurious spots, on the Atlantic Ocean); 5. Indonesia (has pro's and con's politically and geographically, does have many beautiful spots for a villa); 6. Nepal (very isolated); 7. Laos (not likely for obvious reasons); 8. Vatican City (besides the obvious reasons, there would be no room for a villa); 9. Bhutan (you want truly isolated, this is where you go. Also, it's a country that does not measure gross national product but rather gross national happiness).

(Article changed on Dec 29, 2022 at 8:31 PM EST)

(Article changed on Dec 29, 2022 at 8:34 PM EST)

(Article changed on Dec 30, 2022 at 1:27 PM EST)

(Article changed on Dec 30, 2022 at 1:30 PM EST)

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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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