If I were a guy trying to keep from getting prosecuted for some kind of political flim-flam or other, I wouldn’t feel all that happy if the prosecution of my case were headed by Jack Smith. And the reason I wouldn’t want to be a defendant in a case put together by Jack Smith is that he happened to have been the federal attorney who investigated and prosecuted my old friend Shelly Silver, who died in a prison hospital while he was serving a six-year sentence for extortion and other financial shenanigans after Smith did him in.
Silver came up to Albany as a member of the Assembly in 1977, which was four years before I was appointed Public Information Officer on Speaker Stanley Fink’s staff. I met Sheldon shortly after I came up to Albany, and from the beginning he struck me as a guy who had no problem cutting the legal corners as close as possible in order to get things done. And what I mean by getting ‘things done’ were the legislative goodies he was in a position to dispense.
Silver was so good at keeping track of those favors that he was elected Assembly Speaker in 1994, and served in that position for 25 years, the second-longest Assembly Speakership in the history of New York State. He even held onto the position for almost a year after he was indicted on federal corruption charges involving secret payments he received from various law firms for steering clients to those firms who were doing business with the state.
Silver was convicted in 2016 but didn’t start his prison sentence for almost five years. He stayed out of jail by endlessly concocting various appeals about the trial, the evidence, the legal problem with this and the legal problem with that. Sound familiar? It should. Isn’t this how Trump behaves or threatens to behave every time he faces showing up in court?
This is a guy, I’m talking about Trump, who was hit with not one, but two class-action suits stemming from the scam called Trump University that he ran from 2004 to 2010. He settled both lawsuits for $25 million in 2016, of course not admitting any wrongdoing in either case. If Trump hadn’t announced a 2016 Presidential campaign, he probably would still be finding some way to put off settling these lawsuits just as he tries to somehow squeeze every second of delay out of the legal challenges threatening him today.
But now, for the first time, those challenges include one being led by Jack Smith. And if Smith’s dogged effort to keep after Shelly Silver is any indication for how he’ll come at Trump, the former President who wants to be a current President again better watch out.
‘Innocent until proven guilty’ not only defines our basic approach to how our judicial-prosecutorial system deals with someone accused of committing a crime, but it also allows someone numerous ways to forestall the consequences of their illegal behavior even after they’ve been judged guilty of committing a crime.
If Trump wants to write another best-selling book to explain not the ‘art of the deal’ but the ‘art of the stall,’ he might consider doing a text on how he invokes endless legal strategies to keep him from being found guilty and winding up in jail.
I’m not saying, of course, that Trump has done anything wrong. After all, we’re innocent until proven guilty, right? But I love how he reacted to the appointment of Jack Smith as a Special Prosecutor by screaming, among other things, that Hillary never had to answer for all those classified emails that were sent to her home.
Does Trump really believe that nobody remembers what happened to Hillary’s 2016 campaign after James Comey announced that the FBI had discovered another batch of government emails which appeared to be ‘pertinent’ to deciding whether the Democrat(ic) candidate for President had broken the law?
As we used to say about a neighborhood kid who wasn’t someone who ever backed down, “He’s got some balls.”
Which is what we can also say about Trump, except Jack Smith’s got a bigger pair. And he’s got two years to figure out if he’ll be able to tie those balls around Donald Trump’s neck.