The Trumps are due for a rebranding. They aren’t modern day empire builders. They aren’t real estate tycoons. They aren’t savvy business owners. They aren’t a political family. The Trumps are America’s White House mafia.
Let’s explore the evidence.
- The Trumps embrace bad associates. Let’s start with current news. We now know that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton during the recent presidential campaign. Junior claims no dirt was delivered. We don’t know the truth of that statement, but it hardly matters. The fact that he was willing to meet with a hostile foreign emissary in the hopes of gaining damaging info is enough. This is not the behavior of a legitimate businessman. His father denies any knowledge of the meeting, but Senior has been playing dumb about evidence of Russian canoodling for the past year. It is reminiscent of Fat Tony’s denials of an alliance between the Gambino family and the Russians in the 1990s.
- The Trumps hide their money and profit from fraud. No crime family can be truly successful if they don’t have a good way to launder ill-gotten funds. The Trumps don’t earn money so much as they move it around to avoid paying taxes. They use the bankruptcy courts to erase debts. Trump Sr. refuses to release his tax returns or to divest himself from his business while serving in public office. The American government is now a crucial link in Trump’s money laundering activities. The family profits every time a foreign dignitary stays in a Trump hotel and every time Trump Sr. holds a business meeting at one of his properties. Mar-a-Lago is essentially an upscale version of Tony Soprano’s Bada Bing. For fraud, consider the glorified pyramid scheme that was Trump University.
- The Trumps use deceit to gain power. Lying is second nature to any good criminal. The Trumps lie when the truth would be better. How else can you explain Trump Sr.’s weird insistence that his inauguration crowds were huge, despite visual proof to the contrary? And what about those fake TIME Magazine covers in his golf clubs? The long campaign claiming President Obama wasn’t born in America? For a more comprehensive list, check out this recent analysis from the New York Times. The lies don’t stop at the top. Everyone in the Trump circle seems comfortable with dishonesty. Look no further than the lies told by son-in-law Jared Kushner on federal security clearance documents, a possible felony.
- The Trumps engage in threats and intimidation. From the earliest days, the Trump family has built its real estate business on illegal discriminatory housing practices and strong-arm land grabs. There are numerous examples of this, but my favorite is the story of the Scottish landowners who refused to sell to Trump Sr. He not only destroyed the value of private property, he left every promise unfulfilled, raped a protected land, and sent the residents a bill for the work.
- The Trumps rob from the poor. The Trumps are notorious for hiring contract employees to do grunt work and then refusing to pay those workers. In this instance, the mafia has a slightly better reputation than the Trumps. A foot soldier for the mob might not make a fortune, but he’ll probably get paid.
- The Trumps protect the man at the top. No doubt Trump Sr. appreciates the blind allegiance of his grown children, but the Trump sons should be careful. Eric might believe that “nepotism is a beautiful thing,” but history tells us that organized crime bosses are happy to let their underlings do the time for criminal activity. Neither Junior nor Eric will be afforded the same legal protections as their father. Crime bosses have always insulated themselves from the day-to-day risks of their criminal enterprise. They set themselves up with legitimate, even respectable, positions. When the sting goes down, they make sure they are well clear of the net.
- The Trumps demand loyalty. You’re either with the Trumps or against them. This was made clear when James Comey refused to pledge his loyalty and was promptly fired. This family has been intimidating detractors into silence since Fred Trump was at the helm. That they use lawyers rather than hitmen to do their dirty work doesn’t make it any less dirty.
The only thing that sets the Trumps apart from an ordinary crime family is that they haven’t taken over the garbage collection industry as a front for their crimes. But what they’re doing? It stinks like the worst kind of garbage.
At least it’ll make a good movie.