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David Wiswell

David Wiswell: Trump aims at Don Corleone, but hits Coyote

Under an act famously used to prosecute mafia bosses, Trump conjures comparisons to criminal masterminds

Donald Trump’s fourth criminal indictment alleging his attempts to alter the 2020 US election in the state of Georgia under the RICO Act (famously used to prosecute mafia bosses) conjures comparisons to criminal masterminds like the Godfather’s Don Corleone.

I might argue, however, Trump is more intellectually similar to Don…ald Duck. Fittingly, much of the self-implicating evidence Trump left behind seems to indicate that, much like a cartoon character, he might be easily thwarted if the prosecutor was a hole drawn on a wall or a particularly clever rabbit.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump is shown in a police booking mugshot
Former U.S. President Donald Trump is shown in a police booking mugshot - Fulton County Sheriff's Office - 24.ago.2023/Handout via Reuters

So what are the new charges and why are they potentially more dangerous than the 78 others faced by the former US president and current US buffoon?

The 41 felony count indictment adds 13 to Trump’s personal collection, which, for Trump, are now like Pokemon. "Election fraud I CHOOSE YOU!" The first charge binds Trump and 18 co-defendants under the RICO Act, claiming they collectively committed a whopping 161 acts towards the criminal goal of subverting the state’s election results.

RICO stands for "racketeering-influenced crime organization" and is essentially a fancy term for conspiracy. This is a fitting label as Trump's election fraud claims have the weight of flat earth theory, holocaust denial or the more absurd notion Trump is capable of reading.

The charges include forgery, coercing officials to violate their oaths, impersonating officials and even theft of voting systems. Trump and his allies’ brazen actions have led the evidence to feel quite robust. There is audio of Trump bullying Georgia officials to "find" the votes he needed to win, false statements given to the State House and Senate, testimony, video, forged documents —in fact, 12 acts cited were merely quotes from Trump’s Twitter.

Imagine live tweeting your crime! "I’m breaking into the bank now #LOL" "I just shot the teller #YOLO" "Back at the secret hideout chillin’ *geotag*".

All this makes Trump’s best defense, like some of his other trials, appear to be claiming ignorance, though his lawyers are the only ones doing that directly, whereas Trump is doing it indirectly by just speaking. How cunning! But if his defense leans on the idea that he believed the election was stolen despite no evidence, that still doesn't mean committing crimes is legal. If a bank owes you money, you can’t rob the teller! Also, these being state and not federal charges, if he navigates his 91 indictments to be elected, Trump would not be able to pardon himself!

Being tried with 18 co-defendants also increases the likelihood they may trade damning testimony or evidence for a lighter sentence. The indictment alleging 30 other unindicted "co-conspirators" implies this may have already happened. What a shame! It’s almost as if you can’t trust someone who (allegedly) aided and abetted 161 acts of conspiracy to (ahem allegedly) overthrow the government!

Trump’s corrupt toxicity and fate feel perfectly symbolized by the fact that many of his lawyers and legal advisors are now his co-defendants. In the sea of people around him telling him what he was doing was illegal or under false pretenses, Trump had to find the least scrupulous legal minds he could to aid and abet his scheme, but now he has to trust them!

In the movie, the godfather dies of a heart attack playing with his grandson, having evaded prosecution, but in the cartoon world, Wile E. Coyote falls off a cliff because despite what he was allowed to believe… There was no ground beneath him.