‘Scheme to defraud’—the perfect legacy of the epic Trump crime wave

Measured by how often he’s been caught, Trump’s ultimate delusion is the fake invulnerability that he irrationally awarded himself.


NY indictment: The opening gambit against America’s dimmest scoundrels

Thanks to the New York prosecution team, the world has a succinct, permanent summation of the Trump family crime wave: “Scheme to defraud.” “Scheme”—noun, as in calculated, covert, collective breaking of rules; “defraud”—verb, as in nefarious, law-breaking dishonesty to gain money, leverage or power. Who says lawyers can’t write well or capture perpetual iniquity in a clear phrase?

My reasonably honest CPA father scoffed at crooks, not so much from moral outrage but because they advertise their inadequacy: “success comes by understanding the rules, then applying yourself to find ways to achieve distinction. Overt cheating isn’t just foolish and risky, especially when caught, but it confirms one’s stupidity, if not sloth. The idea is to overcome downsides, then prosper without so many violations you get stung.”

In these terms, not only are incredibly sloppy crimes visible, but this latest display of career villainy dramatizes the great irony of Trump ever achieving “greatness.” This dim predator couldn’t make himself “great” again, let alone a far less great country after his tenure. Contrary to actions by shrewder players, the outing of Trump’s “scheme to defraud” testifies that truth will displace fake news. The coming slew of indictments will confirm Trump’s sordid history beyond multiple bankruptcies and improprieties—now appearing little more than practice for the four-year, presidential crime spree. Boxed in by botched plays, Trump now only fools people dumber and more deluded than he—and even that number should wither over the months.

A world of trouble

Against such dreadful scheming stands Trump’s few inflated achievements: some branding success thanks to notorious PR and lucking out against a badly-wounded, veteran Democrat incapable of running a strong campaign. The latest tax allegations reminded me how my father mentored me and his clients, “use creative deductions and defensible positions to reduce liability; never fail to declare taxable income, especially what the IRS can easily expose.” Even tax loophole lovers report all income, then produce hard-to-challenge expenses, exemptions, and credits.

Whatever the final disposition, this “scheme to defraud” indictment aptly summarizes both the business and political career of our most criminal president. Most experts view this first NY action against Trump’s CFO as the first of a serial tragicomedy, with more Grand Jury moves against the entire family. Savvy niece Mary Trump on Rachel Maddow projected that Trump children might eventually turn on their father. After all, youngsters fleeing indictments know better what an unleashed Trump will do to avoid prison—or massive fines – that is, throw everyone else under the bus.

On tap are more financial trials as prosecutors address Michael Cohen’s detailed reports of bank and insurance fraud, plus those odious payments to prostitutes stupidly charged off as illegal campaign expenses (say what?). Malignant narcissists who can’t imagine being caught make especially dumb crooks. In the docket remains Mary Trump’s case alleging Uncle Donald (probably) misappropriated her father’s legal inheritance (as DT’s brother), thus cheating her and siblings of her grandfather’s treasure. What a guy!

Of course the Georgia investigation looms, my favorite shot for a Trump felony conviction; after all, the Imbecile-in-chief was caught on tape trying to corrupt (with a specific vote fraud demand) the head official who certified state election returns. Unlike Trump Organization indictments, where the Donald’s fingerprints will have been obscured, no one doubts who conceived and executed an undeniable “scheme to defraud” every Georgia, if not every American voter. Like other historic defrauders, what will do in Trump is the global scope and boundless audacity (self-evident to any independent prosecutor). Not even the Trumpster can take infinite blows to his shredded credibility.

En-titled for the ages

“Scheme to defraud” captures everything, beginning with that first, early federal, tenant discrimination suit when Trump’s devious father and he were forced to admit serial infractions. Then came the slew of well-known illegalities, spanning insurance/bank fraud, tax fraud, the Trump University fraud (with $25 million fine) and the wholly “unpopulist” screwing of countless small-business vendors, crushed by unjustified, belligerent litigation. Then came the political crimes (paying off prostitutes, Inauguration fiasco, emoluments violations) crowned with unparalleled Constitutional breaches (foreign and domestic) and a never-to-be repeated double whammy of (legitimate) impeachment trials. All the while, Trump maliciously slandered journalists and the media while defrauding all voters, including willing base suckers, with tens of thousands of readily disprovable lies: dismissing Covid as a “hoax” (intentionally instigated by China), belittling the Jan. 6 insurrection as a trivial disturbance and then unceasingly lying through his teeth about his own disastrous election debacle.

Is there any doubt that Trump, well-ensconced alongside other “worst” president, will end as the most disgraced modern American figure? Step aside corrupt evangelicals, P.T. Barnum (much less duplicitous), Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon and the Dubya-Cheney-Rumsfeld clan. Before he dies (if zombies die), Trump could stand with the traitorous Benedict Arnold as an enemy of more of the people more of the time. Trump then will have amassed more legal convictions and, we hope, stringent financial penalties. If justice reigns, add in the shock of at least a jail time sentence—another first for ex-presidents. Indeed, unlike Arnold, with an earlier career of distinction, mixing principles and self-interest, the Trump life story already looks bereft of anything like disinterested principles—beyond the callous, crudely-executed brand of epic self-entitlement.

Even without judicial confirmation, who competes with Trump as the “most damaging presidential phony” ever—and a pathetically inept scoundrel to boot—a loser even in his own perverse terms. Measured by how often he’s been caught, Trump’s ultimate delusion is the fake invulnerability that he irrationally awarded himself. No one may leave this world with more nakedly, immoral transparency – even if he never spends a day in jail.

The enormity of Trump’s fall, as his treasure and status will never approach his pre-2016 peak, could be just dramatic enough to discourage the next, billionaire schemer. Trump thus promises a final service, the proof that even billions cannot offset innate stupidity – or forever ward off the law. Successful scheming, like many another human contrivance, demands intelligence, wariness and hard work– all notably absent in a loser fated to spend years battling to redeem his image and stay out of harm’s way.


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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.