November 2, 2023


In most developed nations, Donald Trump would be nearly broke or in jail by now — not because of the 91 felonies he faces — but because of his big mouth. He would have been sued many times successfully for libel and slander for damaging the reputations of others by labeling them as crooks or worse without any evidence. He would have been charged with inciting or threatening violence or hate because most countries don’t confuse free speech with reckless, fraudulent, ruinous, or frightening babble. But in the U.S. anything goes, which is why Trump’s words have become weapons, stoking an insurrection in 2021 and intimidating or slurring foes. Now faced with serious offenses, he campaigns at his court appearances playing the victim and attacking judges, their staffs, witnesses, jurors, and the system itself. Finally, two judges have imposed gag orders, and one has already fined him twice for contempt of court and may send him to the slammer. “No other litigant in America could get away with the threats, and ad hominem attacks on prosecutors, witnesses, judges, and court staff that Mr. Trump regularly indulges,” said law professor James Sample. In Britain or Canada, for instance, Trump would have been muzzled by libel lawsuits long ago, or sent to jail for contempt of court.

The New York civil law case, brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, is ruinous for Trump. She seeks at least $250 million in fines, a permanent ban from running businesses in New York against Trump and his family, and a five-year commercial real estate ban against Trump and the Trump Organization. Witnesses include Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, and other former operatives who have testified that the family inflated asset values for years to defraud banks and insurance companies. Trial Judge Arthur Engoron has ruled that fraud was committed and canceled business certificates for Trump companies that control Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and the iconic Wall Street Tower, among others. The trial continues and threatens to unravel the family enterprise.

Trump’s other legal challenges include indictments over his efforts to reverse vote results in the 2020 election that he lost; the possession of classified documents he took with him after leaving office; $130,000 hush money paid to a porn star during the 2016 election (falsifying documents and writing it off for tax purposes), and a rape and defamation claim by a New York writer, who was awarded $5-million in damages by a jury this year. Trump then went on CNN and defamed her again, so she has sued for another $5 million in damages. Frankly, she should have also sued CNN for airing the interview, an offense in Canada, Britain, or Europe known as “republication of libel”. The first such case resulted in a $787-million settlement with Fox News (won by Canadian-based Dominion Voting Systems) after the network aired false accusations that its voting machines were rigged to defeat Trump.

But Trump’s runaway mouth will lock him up for years if it’s proven that he blabbed submarine secrets in 2021 to a guest at Mar-A-Lago. If true — and the guest claims he taped it all — he will net serious jail time. ABC News reported that three months after he left office Trump shared

classified information about U.S. nuclear subs with an Australian billionaire named Anthony Pratt at the Mar-a-Lago club. Pratt said he taped the conversations and shared the information with at least 45 others – a dozen foreign officials, his own employees, and a few journalists. He said Trump divulged the exact number of nuclear warheads U.S. submarines carry, and exactly how close they can get to a Russian submarine without being detected. Trump’s betrayal is clearly breach of the law — equivalent to selling secrets — because the Australian had paid to stay at Mar-A-Lago. Pratt also claims that Trump gave him details about private calls with the leaders of Ukraine and Iraq.

If proven, this could result in a throw-away-the-key sentence for America’s biggest blowhard. In 2022, an American couple was sentenced to 21 years in prison after they pleaded guilty to attempting to sell nuclear submarine secrets for $100,000 in cryptocurrency. It was an FBI sting operation and officials said the couple “was entrusted with our nation’s critical secrets and put the security of our country at risk for financial gain. The seriousness of the offense in this case cannot be overstated.”

Courts should also crack down on Trump’s increasingly violent rhetoric as threats and incitement to violence, both criminal offenses. These are defined as “the encouragement of another person to commit a crime” and The First Amendment does not protect speech that incites imminent violence or lawlessness. But Trump recently stated that shoplifters should be shot, a military leader should be executed, and that retribution should be sought against judges, prosecutors and witnesses involved in his criminal and civil cases. In April, he warned that people should “go after” Letitia James, who filed the $250 million suit against the Trumps. And in a country where guns outnumber people, this is dangerous.

Attorney General James shot back and declared that she would not be “bullied” by the former President. Even so, Trump has taken to social media and called her “corrupt” and claimed the trial is rigged against him. She responded that the former President was making use of the courtroom to raise campaign funds and stoke the flames of his supporter base. “This case was brought simply because it was a case where individuals have engaged in a pattern and practice of fraud,” she said. “And I will not sit idly by and allow anyone to subvert the law. And lastly, I will not be bullied. The Donald Trump Show is over. This was nothing more than a political stunt. A fundraising stop.”

Hopefully, the wheels of justice will grind down Trump. A judge in a New York courtroom, where his empire may soon be dismantled, may at last force him to be silent and to put his money where his big mouth is.