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‘Just lock him up already’

The US justice department’s investigation into Donald Trump could spell the end for him as a political force

Image: The New European

Donald Trump is creating yet more chaos – or at least, he’s trying to. By announcing that he is running for president, he has finally, it seems, grasped the fact that he is no longer president, and that he did in fact lose the last election.

However, the reaction to the 2024 run from his once best buddy, now chief ridiculer, Keith Rupert Murdoch, has not been good. Murdoch ran the Trump presidential announcement in his paper, the New York Post, but did so on page 26. The headline of the piece was “Been there, Don that”.

It referred to Mar-a-Lago as a “resort and classified documents library”; Trump as a “Florida retiree” and “avid golfer”. It also pointed out that The Donald will be 78 in 2024. The piece ended with: “Trump also served as the 45th president.”

This is a Grade-A Manhattan take-down of an upstart “bridge and tunnel” person, that old description by Manhattanites of those who do not reside on the blessed island, but who come in from elsewhere.

Trump is one of those “bridge and tunnel” people. He’s from Queens, which is on Long Island, and he has always believed in that line from New York, New York that, “If I can make it there/ I can make it anywhere.” Not make it on Long Island, but on Manhattan Island, and even though he has fled the Big Apple, Trump still has what Billy Joel crooned: “A New York state of mind”. The Murdoch beatdown must have dug deep.

On top of all this, there is the appointment of an independent special counsel, by Merrick Garland, the attorney general. This special counsel’s remit is to look into two matters: Trump’s role in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol; and his mishandling of government records and documents.

The special counsel is gloriously named John L Smith and is known professionally as “Jack Smith”.

Jack Smith has served as assistant United States attorney in the Department of Justice, acting United States attorney, and head of the Public Integrity Section. He was also the chief prosecutor at The Hague, specialising in prosecuting war crimes related to the war in Kosovo.

The fabulous thing so far about Jack Smith, besides his wonderfully innocuous name, is that he looks a bit like Eliot Ness from The Untouchables. This was the guy who took down that other “Teflon Don”, Al Capone.

I’m not referring to the 1987 Brian De Palma film starring Kevin Costner with everybody dressed in Armani, and music by Ennio Morricone. I’m talking about the late-1950s television programme. You would have to be into vintage US primetime TV and/or old enough to have actually seen it when it was on in the late ’50s.

I saw it as a kid, and Trump would have seen it too. It was a hit. Besides the iconic theme music, what I recall most is that the star of the whole thing, Robert Stack as Eliot Ness, never smiled. He never smiled when he was going after criminals. He did not smile when he busted Al Capone. He did not smile when a hot lady came on to him. Nothing made him smile. Nothing – except a conviction.

He never smiled because his focus was on his prey. And he always got his prey. And that’s what Jack Smith looks like, too.

Of course, Trump has rather hysterically called Smith “radical left”, a term that is Grade-A red meat to his MAGA base. But even they know better than that.

And then there’s the issue of Trump’s taxes. Richard Nixon, after revealing his tax returns, was asked why he did it. He replied that he did it because he wanted to show the people of the United States that their president was not a crook. Watergate followed and everyone forgot what he had said.

Every president makes his tax returns public. Trump, a self-proclaimed billionaire, paid only $750 in federal income taxes in the year he was elected US president. The real deal is that nobody actually knows how much money Trump really has, or whether he has any money at all.

Now the supreme court has made it possible for a committee of the House to examine Trump’s tax returns. The battle over his financial records has taken a year. Without doubt, Trump must have believed that the supreme court belonged to him. After all, he had appointed three conservative justices, thereby giving the court a conservative majority of relatively young justices to what is a lifetime appointment.

But they did not even consider his argument. This leaves the Democrat-controlled committee free to perform its constitutional duty of oversight. But not for long. Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives in the recent midterm elections, meaning control of the committee will pass into Republican hands in January.

And then there is the New York attorney general, Letitia James, who made convicting Trump not only the cornerstone of her campaign, but one of the linchpins of her administration. A few weeks ago she announced a civil lawsuit against Trump, Donald Jr, Eric, Ivanka and the Trump Organisation. This involved assets. Subpoenas were issued. Trump sued. He lost. The subpoenas were upheld.

New Yorkers often use the word “already” when impatient or exasperated. For instance, a New Yorker might yell at a soccer match: “Come on and score that goal already!”

What they and many in the nation are saying about Trump is: “Just lock him up already.”

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