Letitia James’s farcical prosecution of Donald Trump might win a conviction, given the known temperament and biases of the partisan presiding judge Arthur Engoron. And things are now escalating well beyond the facts of the indictment for purportedly overvaluing real estate assets—an alleged “crime” that had apparently never been prosecuted in New York’s dog-eat-dog real-estate world.
The unprecedented nature of the alleged crime is nothing compared to James’s choice of defendant — not just the current leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, but also an ex-president polling increasingly ahead of incumbent president (and James’s and Engoron’s fellow Democrat) Joe Biden.
Old, resurfacing videos of James’s now well-documented long vendettas and rants against Donald Trump, her own confirmation of Trump’s charges of her racism (she once smeared the Trump administration “as too pale, too male and too stale”), the judge’s gag orders, the new polls, the simultaneous efforts of state lawsuits to take Trump off the ballot—all add up to a judicial absurdity unprecedented in U.S. history that is beginning to convince the majority of Americans of an extra-legal attempt to warp an American election.
Judge Engoron is in a similar fix.
He is slowly creating an O.J.-like courtroom farce. The more Trump and his team understandably conduct the defense as aloud—and successful—political statement, the more transparently partisan an exasperated Engoron appears. His gag orders may well be unconstitutional and thus are for now largely ignored by Trump, putting Engoron in an even more embarrassing dilemma.
Will he jail Trump for violating his likely-to-be-successfully-appealed order. That is, will he try to put an ex-president and possible future presidential candidate of the opposing party behind bars in an election year for decrying an obvious politicized miscarriage of justice—and thus only end up empowering Trump?
Or in his doom-loop will he not fully enforce his own orders, and instead seek to disguise his mounting impotence by more desk-pounding, sermonizing, grimaces, and snideness?
We’ve seen nothing quite like this judicial mess in recent American history.