You Won't Believe the Most Outrageous Claim in the Trump Indictment

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

The Donald Trump indictment is our Late Roman Republic cirque du jour, and until now I’ve recused myself from writing about it. I had to wait for that one tiny detail to emerge, that one giant tell, so absurd that it required the special attention of the man who invented drunkblogging.


Only now, on Day Two of our accelerating descent into Total Banana Republic from Partly Banana Republic, has that absurdity come to light.

ASIDE: Yes, a tiny detail can be a giant tell. Have you never played poker?

To see that absurdity in all its slimy glory, we must venture now to the pages of POLITICO, the semi-official mouthpiece of all goodthinking Outer Party swamp-dwellers.

“The charges against Trump do not include any tax fraud offenses,” Josh Gerstein reported on Wednesday, “that some legal experts said they hoped to see to buttress the seriousness of the case.”

I must interrupt myself for a moment to remind you that when someone at POLITICO uses a phrase like “some legal experts said…,” what they really mean is, “group-thinking swamp-dwellers all agree…” That done, let’s get back to Gerstein’s report.

“The statement of facts [Manhattan District Attorney Alvin] Bragg filed along with the indictment makes a surprising claim,” and when Gerstein describes it as “surprising,” what I took away from it was “gob-smackingly stupid.” The problem, you see, is “that Trump and his associates engaged in deception by paying New York state more in taxes than it was owed.”

Trump cheated on his taxes by paying too much in taxes? What was he supposed to be distracting us from — that Orange Man Bad because Orange Man Bad?

Related: Conflict of Interest: Trump Judge Is Biden Donor, Daughter Worked on Biden-Harris Campaign


According to Bragg’s statement, “The participants also took steps that mischaracterized, for tax purposes, the true nature of the payments made in furtherance of the scheme.”

What all that boils down to is this: Trump allegedly paid his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, $180,000 in legal fees instead of just $130,000 to reimburse him for the alleged hush money to Stormy Daniels.

The “fraud” here is that Cohen’s payment was recorded as legal fees when Bragg says it was hush money plus an extra fee to cover the taxes Cohen owed on legal fees, but wouldn’t have owed for money transferred from Trump to Daniels via Cohen.

Got that?

But the best evidence we have so far shows that Cohen acted on his own, according to testimony last month from another Trump lawyer, Robert Costello. “If they want to go after Donald Trump,” he said, “and they have solid evidence, so be it. But Michael Cohen is far from solid evidence.” Bragg never brought in another witness to contradict Costello’s grand jury testimony about Cohen.

If there was any fraud here, it looks like it might have been committed by Cohen against Trump — charging him $180,000 for lord-knows-what in a misguided effort to “protect” Trump from a discredited adult actress.

So if you want to know why Bragg is trying to smear Trump as a tax cheat without actually charging him as a tax cheat, now you know. It’s all smoke and mirrors.


Daniels, you’ll recall, was just ordered to pay Trump an additional $120,000 on top of the $500,000 she’d already had to reimburse him in legal fees for her ridiculous defamation suit.

As I’ve written so many times already, almost everyone reading this item — and certainly the guy writing it — is old enough to remember when Trump was living his outrageous personal life on the front pages of New York’s naughtiest tabloids.

Did he do it with Stormy Daniels? Did he (or someone on his staff) pay her off? I just don’t care — and none of it is illegal, anyway.

What I do care about, and what all of us ought to deeply care about, is just how outrageous this all is, with the accent in “outrageous” on “rage.”

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