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  • Reverend James Squire


You need to understand several things to grasp the nature of Trump’s Fourth Indictment. One is the nature of the RICO charge and the second is the use of language used by the mob. RICO stands for federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act. It was the charge that brought the Mafia down in New York City by the FBI. Several approaches were used by the mob when it was at its height in the city including intimidation, violence, and fear. They functioned as a business with a great deal of collaboration among people within each crime family. The mob also had a unique use of language to get things done. As Michael Cohen told the Washington Post, “Trump behaves like a mob boss, and his messages are fashioned in that style. Giving the order without giving the order. No fingerprints attached.”

Collaboration and communication will be the points of argument in his case. His web of illegal conspirators is spelled out in Fani Willis’ Indictment. His communication skills are the same way that a boss used those skills. His argument is that he had a “perfect” phone call with Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Secretary of State. His lawyer and he are trying to have others see that phone call as an “aspirational” statement such as “wouldn’t it be nice if you could find those votes.” Deborah Tannen, linguist at Georgetown University, deals with statements that really can be interpreted in ambiguous ways. One of her examples is the mother who says to her daughter, “you are going to wear that” expresses an implied action to have her daughter change to something more presentable without directly telling her so. When one child mocks another on a playground and then is challenged by that individual, they respond that they were just kidding with the added insult that can’t you take a joke. Mob bosses and Trump spoke in “rooms of ambiguity.”

Trump had other mob-based communication styles. He invited one of the crime bosses to stand next him in the dedication of one of his hotels. Later when that same boss was convicted of serious crimes and Trump was asked about his relationship with the crime boss, Trump said that he really never met him or knew much about him. Sound familiar?

In addition, we have the issue of loyalty. Crime bosses required absolute loyalty, but it was a one-way street as they didn’t return the loyalty to their underbosses or soldiers. Step out of line, and they disappeared. Trump directly required that of Comey. Comey refused, and he was fired. No political figure has ever hired or fired as many people as Trump did. It is more than ironic that his successful show, The Apprentice, is remembered most for the key line that defined the show which is, “You are fired!”

When the FBI planted listening devices in crime bosses’ homes, they discovered that this type of conversation was consistent with all the mob bosses so that they could not be accused of directly ordering a “hit” on someone. Language always becomes part of a culture. No verbal fingerprints were found.

People are not aware of just how much influence the mob had on Donald Trump. He was building at the height of the mob’s power and proceeded to copy their behavior so that he could make use of them in building his real estate empire. The mob was also involved in other shared industries such as building in general and casinos in particular.

In an article in Esquire, July 22, 2020, by Gabrielle Bruney, Netflix’s Fear City Hints at Trumps Mob Connections: The Real Story Goes Even Deeper, that “he received an endorsement from former Gambino family underboss Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano who said that America “doesn’t need a bookworm as President, it needs a crime boss.” Nothing subtle about that endorsement and actually it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. He also became friends and was mentored by Roy Cohn, a notorious fixer and is regarded by many as a malevolent influence on Trump.

It is interesting that not much has been written about Trump’s direct connections to the mob. One anecdote that Bruney tells is about the story behind the building of the Trump Tower in New York. He hired mob firms to erect Trump Tower and his Trump Tower Apartment building in Manhattan buying overpriced concrete controlled by mafia chieftains. Where other people outside the mafia were involved in the same ventures, most people ran away from the mob where Trump ran right into their arms. That could be the same answer for why he still chooses authoritarian leaders as models. Unlike his payment to his workers, Trump’s guideline was always to make sure that the mob bosses got paid. He saw the risk first hand if they weren’t!

Trump operated all of his life as a follower of the thought of Nietzsche where the greatest virtue is strength and the greatest evil is weakness. He also acted on the Machiavellian notion that the ends, justifies the means.

But here is my question. Trump has been a criminal all of his life, and he has always been able to do what was necessary to escape accountability. We are now focusing on the crimes of his presidency. How come no one took the time and effort to ask how he got elected in the first place? You don’t have to go deep to discover his life of crime or his extension of it when he was President. It’s all there! Who vetted this guy? That is the real crime. Part of the mob’s downfall is that they never thought that they would get caught and therefore neither did Trump. It is the same mindset. They thought that they were smarter than anyone else because they got away with their crimes for so long. Trump declared, “I am a genius.” The American people need to be reminded on a daily basis that we really do get what we think we deserve. Trump could have become a great crime boss. Instead, he became a nightmare for our democracy and the worst President in our history. Whose responsibility is that now and as we move forward?

If you have time, you only need to view one episode of Fear City New York vs. The Mafia on Netflix to get an existential awareness of similarities between Trump and mob culture. Unfortunately, you will see a one-to-one correspondence.

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