When former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson faced rape charges in 1992, his lawyer’s closing argument to the jury was essentially “My client’s an animal. Would any sane woman go to his hotel room at 3 A.M.?” Suffice it to say, Tyson got 10 years. (Four were suspended.)
I’m reminded of Tyson because of the Alexandria, Virginia federal trial of Paul Manafort for 18 counts of filing false income tax returns, conspiracy and bank fraud. It’s speculated that Manafort’s defense counsel’s closing arguments may resemble Tyson’s by acknowledging Manafort is ethically-challenged and guilty of a lot of things, but not the charges in the indictments. It seems very close to “my client’s an animal.” (Meanwhile, it’s remotely possible by the time you read this a verdict will have been reached.)
Offering damaging testimony against Manafort was Dennis Raico, a former Federal Savings Bank executive. He testified under immunity that the bank’s CEO, Stephen Calk, granted $16 million in loans (largest in the bank’s history) to Trump’s former campaign chair, Manafort, to secure a Trump administration job, possibly as Secretary of the Army or Ambassador to France. Good grief.
Of course the “star” witness was Rick Gates, Trump’s Assistant Campaign Manager and high level official in the Trump transition after Manafort was fired. (Manafort, Gates, Cohen, Flynn, Pruitt, Ross and Omarosa, to name but a “few” … whatever happened to Trump’s, “I hire only the best people?”)
Also given immunity, Gates confessed he and Manafort committed financial fraud, concealed millions of dollars in foreign income and submitted fake mortgage and tax documents. What a lovely pair. But Gates also admitted he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his former mentor using bogus expense charges. (Thus my title, “Grifters grifting grifters.”)
Speaking of grifters, former Trump adviser, Omarosa Manigault Newman, is currently promoting her book about Trump, “Unhinged.” A three-time contestant on “The Apprentice” and a Trump protege, Omarosa says she has dozens of incriminating audio tapes she surreptitiously recorded from inside the West Wing. (It’s ironic, because Trump was infamous for taping people without their consent during his business career.)
As the highest ranking African-American in the West Wing, Omarosa’s job title was “Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison.” With that long title went a long salary, $179,000 a year.
In maniacal fashion, Trump tweeted about Omarosa 8 times in one day! Among other “endearments,” he called her “a crazed, crying lowlife,” and “a dog.” (White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sheepishly denied Trump’s comments were racist, suggesting that he calls a lot of people dogs.)
Among Omarosa’s claims is that she heard an “Apprentice” tape of Trump using the “N” word. As if he has nothing else to do (other than wolf down a bucket of KFC and 12 Diet Cokes and watch Fox News) Trump tweeted that “Apprentice” producer Mark Burnett just called to say there was no such tape. But, if you’ve never used the “N” word, why would you need someone to verify it? (Assuming Burnett actually called.)
An even more serious claim of Omarosa is that she can prove Trump knew about the hacked DNC emails before Wikileaks released them. (Four words: If true, game over.)
And then there’s “hush money.” Trump paid $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels, and $150,000 to former Playboy bunny, Karen McDougal. But now Omarosa claims she was offered $15,000 a month if she would sign a Non Disclosure Agreement.
According to the NDA, she would be given a job with the Trump 2020 campaign, one she could do from home or not at all. All of this on condition that she never disparage Trump.
I immediately thought, hey, I’ve been disparaging Trump for years. I would gladly stop in return for even $5k a month. (I can’t go lower as a burger on Main Street these days costs $15.)
I worry, however, that I may not have enough grifter in me. While I’m certainly experienced in disparaging, being a grifter requires certain “lowlife” skills that not everyone has. Among those who do, it seems an inordinate number work in the Trump administration.
As for Mike Tyson, while over the years he may have evolved, for a decade or more he revealed himself to be a vulgar, misogynist bully. (Not to mention probably a rapist.)
Surprise, surprise, Tyson’s an outspoken Trump supporter as the two actually seem to have a lot in common. At 72, however, I don’t see Trump evolving. Getting worse is more likely.
With regard to the Trump/Omarosa battle, I enjoy that she’s more Trumpy than Trump. I’m embarrassed to admit I view their war like a steel cage grudge match. I don’t care who wins, as long as they both get bloody. (With that, I guess I can forget getting any hush money.)
Note: The book signing for “A Boy’s Journey” scheduled on August 18 at the Shores apartment building has been postponed until further notice. In the meantime, Jack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.