MUST READ: Donald Trump’s Civil Cases In New York Are About Much More Than Him – And If Allowed To Stand, Will Be The Death Knell For Capitalism, Property Rights, And The Rule Of Law

Donald Trump waves to supporters as he heads to court in New York City.

By Paul Ingrassia

The Constitution established a form of limited government that was intended to do little else except preserve property rights while guarding those foundational liberties – i.e., freedom to speak, assemble, and religious freedom – that are necessary building blocks for any democratic society.  The government enacted by our Founding Fathers was not designed, as modern Leftists conceive it, to protect the marketplace against perceived injustices, real or imagined, in the namesake of “diversity” or “equity” or some other liberal trope, that – if brought to its logical conclusion – would level all standards, quash all forms of creative genius, and level all of society to the lowest common denominator.

By sharp contrast, the Founders deliberately crafted a government that would best foster man’s creative talents – indeed, the very reason for establishing a limited form of government in the first place was to make man’s pursuit of happiness, that guarantee from the Declaration of Independence, a plausible reality – something that can, practically, be obtained by all Americans on the basis of their individual gifts or merit, rather than social class or birthright.  The underlying assumption of this thinking was that any society constituted on these principles would prosper, because the most gifted members would be least encumbered by the arbitrary constraints of law or custom, in order to best realize their natural, God-given talents.  A society in which the best could realize their inherent gifts, most proficiently and unbothered by the jealous restraints of an undemocratic government, would benefit everyone – this was what used to be referred to as the “American dream” and was what propelled the spirit of free enterprise that once made America great – indeed, arguably the greatest country — the world has ever known.

Alas, all great things over time risk losing their sense of purpose, their original design, and become decadent.  Things become rotten or stale; comfortable generations forget the toils of their forefathers and become lazy in the process – forsaking liberty for easy security or safety.  Over time, first slowly, and then quickly, society breaks down. Tyranny creeps in.  This happens when the citizenry is too consumed by the bread and circus distractions of a decadent society, the fruits of a society that enjoyed too much success.  At which point they allow their narcissism to get the better of them, allowing petty squabbles to obfuscate focus on the bigger picture because of the rampant small-mindedness, which is the hallmark of any generation that has forgotten the duties and sacrifices required for self-government, that becomes ubiquitous.

If allowed to go unchecked for an extended period of time, these vices ultimately become institutionalized – in government, politics, and ultimately, the law.  This is when things become dangerous.  Lawmakers and judicial officers abandon their sacred oaths, and instead turn into jealous and vindictive despots.  Rather than celebrate success and exalt the principles of limited government needed to incubate those conditions for successful people to thrive – like the ability to negotiate deals without concern for frivolous nanny state oversight – they abuse their offices like petty tyrants and begin attacking their natural betters.  When this small-minded outlook becomes pervasive across society, the judiciary gets irrevocably corrupted by the same greed and envy that has tarnished the rest of the society; all of society, rather than elevating its best, begins venerating its worst.

A once free and competitive democracy degenerates into a mad dash to the bottom.  Judges constitutionally tasked with preserving the rule of law become enraptured by revenge – they demand the playing field be leveled; success be condemned.  They abandon their constitutional duties, instead ruling with the spirit of tinpot dictators.  The institutions over which they preside corrode and then collapse by the weight of their self-indulgence.  Despotism then arrives.  Like an uncontrollable wildfire, it spreads rapidly – leaving its mark everywhere; the people become slaves, and the tragedy is that most do not even realize their destitution, for they have lost sight of knowledge of true freedom.

In the broadest sense, this hellish state of affairs explains the ongoing civil litigation in New York State against Donald Trump, which has already resulted in judgments, upwards of half a billion dollars with all the arbitrary added interest, that threaten to destroy his formidable business empire.  The case narrative is straightforward; not having any real crime on which to prosecute the 45th President, Attorney General Letitia James made it her life’s mission to “get” Donald Trump.  The reasons for her animus against the presidential frontrunner are rank – and ugly – greed and envy.  She understands her political prosecution against Donald Trump as an opportunity to elevate her cache within the Democratic Party, as well as an opportunity to parasitically go after a man who obtained a level of success that she could never achieve herself.  These evil instincts are what at heart animate her – and all the judges, lawyers, and district attorneys who despise the 45th President.

James enjoys the fruits of an office – and manages the reins, as New York State Attorney General, of an office that carries the prestige and authority of a venerable legal tradition of which she is utterly incapable of grasping, no less appreciating – devised by men, over many generations, far worthier and more capable than her in every way imaginable.   Perhaps at an instinctual level she recognizes this, which might further embolden her attack against all that is good and eminent – for unless society comes down to her level, she and those of kindred spirit – Engoron, Kaplan, Bragg, and Hochul – will never feel deserving of their inheritance.  Until total communism is established in New York, Letitia James will never be happy.

Regrettably, these people have been allowed to get away with destroying the Empire State.  Once the financial center of not just the United States, but the entire world, New York now stands as a monument to corruption and incompetence.  What great and mighty feats it once was known for – and for which it attracted great and mighty men like Donald Trump, Robert Moses, and Cornelius Vanderbilt – has been relegated to history’s dustbin.  The state, once a citadel to bold visions, has become a cesspool for crime and illegal aliens.  Most innovation has stalled; what little innovation does occur is mostly by foreign competitors, like China and Saudi Arabia, who either directly confiscate New York’s crown jewels, like the Waldorf Astoria – by outbidding American companies to develop – or indirectly, such as through being the creditors of the few American companies, still willing to build projects in this state.

Of course, the few that remain will be totally eliminated if Judge Engoron’s insane verdict against The Trump Organization is allowed to stand.  Even should the unlikely happen and it gets overturned on appeal, however, doubtlessly permanent damage has already been done to business in New York.  When Hochul recently said that there was “nothing to worry about” after news broke of the colossal fine arbitrarily and capriciously – and vindictively – lodged against President Trump last month, she was really expressing fear that such a ruling would have a chilling effect on business in the future.  And even if the court of appeals, by some miracle, caught a whiff of common sense, and tossed out the case in toto, all the time, energy, and legal fees expended on this lawsuit is reason alone to cool the pace of business in New York State.  And God forbid, should he “lose” the presidency come November, it will undoubtedly be the result of the time and energy wasted on these frivolous lawsuits, an albatross — distracting the President’s focus on much more important matters. In short, it is the consummate example of election interference. If President Trump is forced to appeal this case all the way up to federal court – the process will have been the punishment, even if his party comes out victorious.  It will have been a Pyrrhic victory, save a complete and total overhaul of the justice system of New York State (one that leads to the expulsion of all judges and prosecutors presiding over the weaponization of the justice system) – because of the high costs, especially for a man running for president of the United States, associated with litigation.

The fines lodged against The Trump Organization are cruel and unusual, and a clear violation of the Eighth Amendment for myriad reasons.  First, the so-called “fraud” at the heart of the case is totally groundless because there was no victim nor damages upon which to base a civil liability claim.  The lack of damages can be proven both directly and indirectly: evidence for the former is seen in the all-critical fact that nobody, not a single party over the decades in which The Trump Organization did business with the various lenders implicated in the lawsuit, ever lost money. That alone should be enough to toss the case out the window.

Indirect evidence is found in the fact that these lenders, notably Deutsche Bank, but also other financial institutions, continued to not only do business with Donald Trump over an extended period of time, but moreover, they profited from the business they did with the President and his company.  President Trump paid off all his loans.   Case closed.  Only under an insane theory of liability, one that is out-and-out communist, would a private business be punished for appraising their share of a negotiation higher than some arbitrary standard retroactively fitted to the facts devised by a rogue Judge, acting at the behest of a bald-faced political persecution carried out by the State Attorney General.

Judge Engoron, acting as fact-finder, entirely impeached his credibility– so much so that he should be removed from the case, pronto, and there should be a mistrial, given his egregious appraisal of Mar-a-Lago being worth only $18 million.  Public listings show that in Palm Beach, $18 million can get you a 4-bedroom home – in the range of 6,000 square feet.    That calculates to approximately $3,000 per square foot.  Mar-a-Lago, which is 62,500 square feet, would, simply on the basis of square footage, be worth $187,000,000 – and that does not even account for the 17 acres of property on which it sits, private ballroom, tennis courts, private pool and spa, waterfront view, and greater historic significance as the Winter White House, all factors that would add hundreds of millions of dollars of value to it.

So clearly Engoron is in no position to say that Donald Trump’s appraisals of his own properties were overvalued or undervalued – his own valuation of Mar-a-Lago is not just off by a few million dollars, it is not even in the same universe of Palm Beach market listings.  In other words, it is so off the mark, so beyond the pale of what is remotely reasonable, so displaced from the reality on the ground, that it raises serious, serious questions about Engoron’s ability, as a so-called judge, to render sound and politically unbiased judgments.

Furthermore, his absurd appraisal casts a long shadow over the integrity of the New York State court system, and does irrevocable damage to the rule of law in New York State. It also obliterates the State’s ability to guarantee basic property rights for private individuals.  It is not an exaggeration to say that the logic of Engoron’s decision would forever destroy capitalism in New York State; indeed, it arguably has done just that by how much he was able to get away with already.

The precedent of this case is that anyone who dares utter politically incorrect thoughts, or criticizes Letitia James, or commits “wrongthink” by questioning the legitimacy of the Biden regime and its conduct, will be penalized from ever being able to do business, first amendment rights be damned!

It is worth noting that the onus should never, ever be placed on Donald Trump to provide a “fair and accurate” appraisal of his properties – in any negotiation, you are naturally going to want to get the best price for your offering – that is how every negotiation has ever been conducted, ever.  If the lender provides the loan, that is not evidence of fraud, but vindication that the appraisal of the property by the borrower was, in fact, accurate.  That is exactly what occurred in this case with Donald Trump, who secured multiple loans from multiple lenders over multiple decades – because, first and foremost, the appraisals were accurate, and second, perhaps even more important, they were all paid back in full, plus interest.

In short, The Trump Organization was profitable.  It was profitable because it created things of real value, something which Engoron and James patently do not understand.  For them, the message to New Yorkers – and innovators, creators, builders, and visionaries, everywhere – could not be clearer: if you set your horizons too high (which is a subjective determination based on their exceedingly narrow visions), you will be crushed by the heavy hand of the state and its draconian laws and regulations.  The State will create crimes out of thin air, where none exist, simply to make point: too much success is to be punished; nobody should ever become more powerful than the regnant ruling class, and if one dares operate competently and more efficiently than they, that person will be punished, humiliated, and all their works, destroyed.

Meanwhile, to the extent new building and development still occurs at all in a communist state like New York, it is being done by our foreign competitors, such as China, India, and Saudi Arabia, who do not impose such arbitrary and ridiculous constraints upon their people.  As such, they have much more capital to invest in overseas markets – and it should come as no surprise that they are the ones fueling whatever tepid development still occurs.  The loans secured for the ultra-skinny skyscrapers that line Central Park, for example, which were put up over the past few years, were secured – in many cases – by Chinese-backed institutions.  New York is becoming a vassal state for foreign countries – as Mexico allows its refuse to teem the streets, Chinese entrepreneurs scoop up every remaining bit of valuable real estate.

The ones screwed the most are native New Yorkers – and particularly, their most productive citizens – business owners, large and small, who now cannot even take out loans without being threatened by allegations of fraud if they so much as sneeze the wrong way. That is the textbook definition of communism, and will bring not only New York, but all of American society, to heel if allowed to continue unchecked.

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