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Monday, April 22, 2024

MURDOCK: Engoron, James Conspire to Seize Trump’s ‘Castle on a Cloud’

James’s entire approach blends Inspector Javert’s monomaniacal bullying of recovering bread thief Jean Valjean with, in spirit, a Bill of Attainder, which unconstitutionally hounds one specific individual...

(Deroy Murdock, Headline USA) As a New Yorker, I wish Democrat Attorney General Letitia James and Gotham Judge Arthur Engoron would treat shoplifters, graffiti vandals, and armed robbers with just a puff of the volcanic rage with which they “get Trump.”

Former President Donald J. Trump’s civil-fraud indictment, trial, and $354.9 million penalty are an abortion of justice. That massive sum likely violates the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment requirement that there shall be no “excessive fines imposed.”

Appellate judges should vacate this travesty, with prejudice.

Why?

First, rather than approach this case fairly, James campaigned by promising to persecute Trump. “I will never be afraid to challenge this illegitimate president,” James said in 2018, heaping election-denial atop bias. “I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real-estate dealings.”

James’s entire approach blends Inspector Javert’s monomaniacal bullying of recovering bread thief Jean Valjean in Les Misérables with, in spirit, a Bill of Attainder, which unconstitutionally hounds one specific individual.

Rather than feel bamboozled and pickpocketed, corporate executives testified that Trump repaid his loans, with interest, and sometimes ahead of schedule. They liked him so much that they wanted to lend him even more money.

Retired Deutsche Bank risk manager Nicholas Haigh testified on Oct. 11 that his company independently assessed and discounted Trump’s financial declarations. “I think the phrase we used might have been ‘sanity checks’ on the numbers,” Haigh said.

When Trump borrowed $125 million for his Doral golf course in 2011, Deutsche Bank modified Trump’s net worth from his stated $4.3 billion down to $2.4 billion—and then loaned accordingly.

“It’s a conservative measure to make these adjustments,” Managing Director David Williams testified Nov. 28, saying that such a “stress test” is “standard” practice.

James’s case is like prosecuting an alleged serial rapist, whose “victims” swear under oath that he was a perfect gentleman who dined with them and then dropped them off at home, untouched.

James’s partner in injustice is Judge Arthur Engoron. This Democrat Party donor should be booted from the bench for behaving more like the chairman of Hate Trump PAC than an honest, even-handed jurist.

First, on Sept. 26, Engoron found Trump “to be liable as a matter of law for persistent violations of Executive Law § 63(12).” Engoron so ruled, seven days before, in his own words, “a non-jury trial that began on Oct. 2, 2023.”

In other words, verdict first, testimony later. Having rendered his findings before hearing witnesses, Engoron dedicated the trial to assessing Trump’s penalty, not whether to impose one.

Second, once those witnesses spoke, Engoron ignored their testimony. Bank executives who said they suffered no fraud left Engoron cold.

Third, this case revolves around Trump allegedly overvaluing his properties to secure bigger, better loans.

In this connection, consider:

A 2.32-acre empty lot is for sale at 1063/1071 North Ocean Boulevard on Palm Beach Island. No house. No pool. It’s just a giant lawn. Price tag: $200 million.

North Ocean Boulevard
1063/1071 North Ocean Boulevard. Asking price: $200 million. / PHOTO: Christie’s International Real Estate

Meanwhile, a 14-minute drive and 5.6 miles down the same street, at 1100 South Ocean Boulevard, sits Trump’s 20-acre Mar-a-Lago estate.

It’s a palatial, 58-bedroom, 33-bathroom resort with gardens, fountains, a swimming pool, restaurants, ballrooms, and more. In the 1920s, General Foods owner Marjorie Merriweather Post spent $7 million—or $123 million today—to build this hideaway from scratch.

Mar-a-Lago
Mar-a-Lago. Value, according to Judge Engoron: $18 million / PHOTO: AP

Despite Post’s initial investment and ensuing luxuries, Engoron valued Mar-a-Lago at $18 million—just 9% of the price for that nearby patch of dirt.

This nonsense confirms that Engoron is terminally ignorant about real-estate values, pathologically biased against Trump, or both.

An appellate court should vaporize Engoron’s absurd, sadistic ruling. Those judges should grant Trump true justice: acquittal on all of James’s corrupt charges. That court then should sanction Engoron for blatant, partisan activism masquerading as “jurisprudence.”

Honest appellate judges should relegate this Dumpster fire to the nearest landfill. And they should slap severe, career-crippling sanctions on partisan Democrat tyrants Letitia James and Arthur Engoron.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor.

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