I think that Donald Trump is the most terrible and dangerous candidate for President of my lifetime, and perhaps much longer than that. I think he and his movement pose a structural risk to the survival of America in several ways. I think that Hillary Clinton is a terrible candidate and would be a terrible leader, but would prefer she wins because I think her awfulness is not an existential threat, but more of the same.
But lying about Trump's legal affairs doesn't help. It helps promote lying, not Clinton (or anyone else.)
This week social media is full of a narrative that the mainstream media is "ignoring" that Trump is on trial for rape and racketeering in December. That's dishonest.
First: Donald Trump has been sued civilly by a woman who claims he raped her when she was 13. I am prepared to believe the very worst about Trump, and I don't know whether this is true or not, but I am more than usually skeptical based on the lawsuit's provenance. The case is not "going to trial" in December. It has been set for a completely routine early status conference in December that will lead to more complete schedules. As far as I can tell, no discovery has been conducted by either side. The case is an allegation against Donald Trump. The fact that I hate Donald Trump does not mean that the allegation is or is not true.
Second: Trump is also facing a civil suit accusing him of RICO violations. I wrote about the case months ago and dismissed the Trumpalo narrative that the judge — attacked by the Trump campaign for his ethnic background — was treating Trump unfairly. The case (and its companion case) accuse Trump of defrauding victims of the scamtastic Trump University. Here, there has been discovery, and the RICO charge survived summary judgment. That means that the judge found that the plaintiffs supplied some evidence which, if accepted as true, would be legally sufficient to support a RICO claim. RICO claims are usually bullshit, and even though this one survived the very low bar of summary judgment, I think it's still styled as a RICO more for public relations purposes than out of merit. Styling something as a RICO claim (rather than, say, a fraud claim) is attention-getting and emotive but rarely substantive. It is not accurate, as some are saying carelessly, that Trump is "charged with racketeering." This is a private civil suit. It may or may not go to trial when scheduled in late November; continuances of such trials are more the rule than the exception. Though the evidence is persuasive that Trump University was a contemptible scam and that Trump was personally in on it, shouting that "Trump faces a racketeering trial" represents a rhetorical trick, not an appeal to facts. Stick with the facts: a judge found enough evidence to go to trial on allegations that Trump was personally involved in defrauding Trump University "students." However, once again, that is an allegation, not a finding of credibility by a factfinder.
Trump is historically awful. That's not a reason to promote narratives that damage us as a nation. Lying about the nature of allegations, and treating allegations as presumptively true, damage us as a nation. They make us more like Trumpalos. Be better than that.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Free Speech Triumphant Or Free Speech In Retreat? - June 21st, 2017
- The Power To Generate Crimes Rather Than Merely Investigate Them - June 19th, 2017
- Free Speech, The Goose, And The Gander - June 17th, 2017
- Free Speech Tropes In The LA Times - June 8th, 2017
- I write letters - June 1st, 2017