In Bloomberg ‘News’, May 20th…
“New York AG Letitia James is playing major league poker with former president Donald Trump — and she just raised the stakes. The AG’s office announced its civil investigation of the Trump Organization for filing false tax returns has now become an active criminal investigation. In response, Trump issued a 900-word statement denouncing the investigation as politically motivated.
Trump despisers may be tempted to take some heart from the news of the investigation, which will proceed alongside the until-now separate criminal investigation being conducted by the district attorney of New York County, Cyrus Vance Jr. But this is a high-risk move by James. Trump’s opponents would do well to remember the sizable risk that would come with prosecuting the one-term president:
He could be acquitted. And if that happened, Trump could use the bounce-back as a highly effective tool to support a presidential bid in 2024. The announcement by James’s office was brief and opaque — and it didn’t mention the president by name.
It said simply that the AG’s office had “informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature” and that it was “now actively investigating the Trump Org. in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan D.A.”
At a minimum, the statement implies that Trump personally has not (yet) been made a direct, formal target of the criminal investigation, or at least has not been so informed. It’s possible for prosecutors to go after the Corporation for criminal liability even without prosecuting all of its principals.
So in theory, at least, the Trump organization could be criminally charged with filing false state tax returns even if prosecutors didn’t think they could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump himself knew about the false filings.
The truth is that, from a Democrat perspective, even James’s public announcement that her investigation is going criminal should be a bit worrisome. As Ralph Waldo Emerson had it, “when you strike at a king, you must kill him.”
Or as Omar Little revised it, “You come at the king, you best not miss.” Unless Trump ultimately is charged and convicted, the announcement that he is under increasing criminal scrutiny will only embolden him. What doesn’t kill Trump will make him stronger.”
Democrats and other detractors are right to worry, this is just another in a long line of witch hunts; how has teflon Don fared before? Even when they stole the election from him they failed to take him out. They already took their shot. Missed.
This is a Hail Mary, a last-ditch effort to intimidate him into backing off imho.