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He Was Always A Fraud
Donald Trump is and has always been a fraud, a con man, and a flimflam artist in it for the quick buck and to satisfy the basest of his selfish needs.
There is never any joy in having to remind ourselves of this truth. Instead, there is a sadness in having to face the fact that such a man became president of the United States — and may become president again.
But face it we must.
Evidence for these harsh conclusions about the man is overwhelming and longstanding and comes in many forms, the latest installment making waves yesterday courtesy of a civil trial in New York. There, the Trump business conglomerate and those who run it — including Trump, members of his family, and longtime associates — have been in the investigative crosshairs of the state’s attorney general, Letitia James.
After reviewing the bank and insurance paperwork that Trump and his associates used to obtain favorable terms, a New York judge ruled that the documents “clearly contain fraudulent valuations which the defendants employed in their business.” And that’s how the words “Trump” and “fraud” found themselves in close proximity in blockbuster headlines across the country this week.
The ruling could lead to a major financial hit. It is also a direct threat to the Trump brand and business. He could lose control of multiple New York properties, including his garish namesake tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. And further ripple effects could spiral from there, creating centrifugal forces that will further pull at a wobbly enterprise.
Of course, this isn’t the only legal threat the country’s most famous multiply-indicted defendant finds himself confronting. Reading yesterday’s news reports, it was amusing how reporters tried to explain to readers that this case was different from all the others they are trying to follow.
What all these cases have in common, however, is a return to where we started: Trump is a fraud and a liar. Whether it’s absconding with classified documents, paying hush payments to a mistress, strong-arming election officials in Georgia, or inciting a violent attempted coup, the common denominator is that Trump is only out for himself, and he will do whatever is necessary, as dangerous as that course may be, to keep his lifelong con going.
In trying to contextualize yesterday’s news, one can’t help but think back to the NBC reality show “The Apprentice.” The portrayal of Donald Trump as a decisive leader, successful businessman, and respected member of New York society was always a fiction created through scripting, marketing, and editing. At the time, the charade was treated as harmless enough, just another offering in a form of lowbrow entertainment featuring those who sought fame and fortune at any cost. Hindsight sadly provides a much clearer — and more troubling — picture.
Trump is a showman without shame, which just so happens to be the perfect attribute for thriving in reality television. He already had decades of experience lying about the reality of his business empire, which often teetered on the brink of collapse. But now he was aided and abetted by a team of producers, editors, and writers (plus no doubt a ton of hair and makeup help). If Trump looked good — no matter the truth — everyone stood to make a lot of money. What no one could have predicted at the time was that these years of Trump’s primetime propaganda would lay the groundwork for the most unlikely and arguably the most damaging president in American history.
Another truth that emerges from these court cases, as with the television show, is that Trump could not have done any of this by himself. At every turn, he has had help. The idea that people would do business with him or serve in his administration after all that we have seen is a sad testimony to what greed and a thirst for power and personal advancement will drive people to do.
Time and again, those who should know better could have tried to stop him. Far too few in his orbit stepped up to the challenge. That dynamic now includes most of the Republican Party.
For years, those who saw the truth about Trump have desperately waited for the one revelation that would finally cause his rabid supporters to understand the full scale of the grift. It has become clear now that if the events leading up to and cresting on January 6 couldn’t do that, then nothing will. But perhaps the fraud ruling in New York and other challenges Trump faces can chip away at the edifice.
Ultimately, “The Apprentice” became a shadow of its one-time popularity. As its ratings dropped, Trump and the producers became more and more desperate for shticks that would lure viewers. Acts can get tired, especially when they lose the luster of success.
Trump has always been fiercely afraid of accountability, because he knows it shines an ugly light on his false reality. It’s why he lies about crowd sizes, vote totals, and his own body weight when he is booked in jail. It’s all related. Pull back the curtain of his threats, projections, and cheap bravado, and you’re left with a frightened man desperately trying to outrun reality, and now the law. There’s nothing quite like seeing a con man get backed into a corner by the truth.
The questions are, will any of this resonate with Republicans? Influence independents? Or drive Democrats to the polls?
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