Who Really is the Crook?


As an important feature of Donald Trump’s ongoing campaigns during the primaries, he routinely labelled his opponents with insulting comments, such words as “liar,” “wimpy”, “goofy loudmouth” and “sleaze.” Yet this seemed to work with certain segments of the GOP as he moved through the primary season with commanding support. Now that he faces the main election in November, he again is using insulting adjectives against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, regularly referring to her as “crooked Hillary” and that she “ought to be jailed.” Maybe he thinks that if he says it often enough, people will begin to believe it.

Not happy with the decision of the director of the FBI, James Comey, not to indict Clinton with regard to the much publicized use of private emails while she was Secretary of State, he accused him of “poor judgement.” Comey, a Republican who worked in the Bush administration, has had many years of experience in law enforcement, but Trump, who has no background in this area at all, thinks he knows more than Comey about what it takes to return an indictment. But what can you expect from this man with the gigantic ego? Other Republicans piled on in attacking Comey and Clinton such as Paul Ryan who also has no background in law enforcement.

Having been so successful with insulting opponents in the past, he is using the same tactic now, not realizing that they may have worked with the smaller group on the right wingers in the primaries, but not so good in the general election. He also overlooks or ignores the fact that if anybody ought to be labelled a crook, it is The Donald himself. Just take a look at the evidence in the Trump University in which many former students of the so-called “University” claim they were victimized as a result of Trump’s fraud by which he made millions.

Trump University was set up by Trump in 2005 and over 7,600 students eventually signed up, paying amounts ranging from $1,500 to $35,000 in fees. The school took in some $40 million in fees and Trump received five million dollars from these proceeds. His enterprise failed and closed in 2010.

Trump’s lawyers had earlier moved to have him dismissed from one case, claiming that he had nothing to do with the operations of the ”University” (itself is a misnomer because the organization was never certified as a university). This absurd contention was made even though there was evidence that Trump appeared in a video distributed to prospective enrollees, in which he extolled the courses he was offering with instructions as to his renowned skills in real estate transactions, saying they could eventually “lead to a graduate degree.” He also said that he had personally selected the instructors for their expertise and knowledge of his secrets.

He later acknowledged in a deposition in the case that he never had met any of the instructors or even knew who they were. He made other statements aimed at enticing the unsuspecting into signing up as students, some paying as much as $35,000, being required to use their credit cards or savings to do so. The presiding federal judge, Gonzalo Curiel, denied the motion which sought to have Trump dismissed.

Trump attacked Judge Curiel in one of the class actions in California (there is a second class action in California and a third in New York City) in which the judge ruled that the defendants had to produce booklets distributed to so-called course instructors which talked about how they were to handle students so as to encourage them to enroll in more expensive courses. Trump’s lawyers were obviously concerned about what the booklets revealed and opposed production, claiming they were trade secrets and irrelevant, both wholly unfounded claims. Needless to say, Judge Curiel denied the objections.

Shortly after this, Trump, as is so common, attacked the judge personally, claiming the judge hated Trump and was prejudiced as a Hispanic against him because of the positions Trump had taken about Hispanics. Trump contended on TV that Curiel should step down because he had “an absolute conflict of interest,” an unprecedented claim. Trump was making all these wild accusations against a sitting judge, and yet his attorneys did not file a motion to support him which would have been the more appropriate move.

Trump should be more careful about calling Clinton a “crook” because the media could (or should) look into the evidence in the Trump cases to find out who really is the crook. What Trump said about his “University” in enticing unsuspecting students to enroll was outright fraud, probably criminal in nature. And the Trump University cases are not the only such situation in which those who trusted Trump and invested in one of the enterprises he promoted only to lose money in doing so.

Stephen A. Hopkins is a retired trial lawyer in Boston.

From The Progressive Populist, November 15, 2016


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