On the one hand, New York Attorney General Letitia James must be applauded. She conducted a thorough, three-year investigation of the Trump Organization, relying primarily on documents, emails, and other correspondence and has made a compelling case for what many on Wall Street already knew about Donald Trump, the businessman: that he is a lying, conniving charlatan for whom loyalty is a one-way street. Screw his creditors? No problem. Scam the public, and his investors? Sure. Stiff his general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers? Of course. James has done a great public service in starting the process by which Trump will be held accountable for his years of despicable behavior.
But the thing we don’t know, and what remains an intriguing mystery, is whether these misdeeds are actually crimes that can be provable in court and punishable by civil penalties, which is the only club James is wielding. Alas, what I am hearing repeatedly about the lawsuit from my Wall Street brethren is various versions of: There is no victim here. Put another way: is it a crime for a huckster to overinflate his net worth and the value of his assets to make himself feel better and more important? If Trump wants to play pretend and believe that his already huge 10,000-foot apartment in Trump Tower is really 30,000 feet, is that a crime or evidence of mental illness?
If, for some deranged reason, Trump wants to believe that Mar-a-Lago is worth $739 million, or that Trump National Golf Club, in Jupiter, Florida, for which he paid $5 million, is worth $62 million, or that his spread in Aberdeen, Scotland is somehow worth $327 million because he can develop it into luxury condos… is that a crime or just more evidence that Trump is a wacked-out, shitty businessman?