Lawsuits are raining down on Donald Trump. Will someone bring him to justice?

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<p><figcaption class=Photograph: Brittany Newman/AP

Despite Donald Trump’s self-mythologizing ostentation, despite his gilt toilets and Eastern European models, despite his airplanes, his golf courses and his gleaming bad taste, he always had more shamelessness than real money. This has been painfully obvious for years, so in a way, what the New York attorney general revealed on Wednesday, first in a press conference and then in a 200-plus-page legal complaint, was nothing new. Letitia James alleges that Trump lies, and most of the time he lies to aggrandize himself, and specifically, he lies a lot about money. He is not as rich as he says he is.

This week, James’ office filed a civil lawsuit against Donald Trump, his three eldest children, former Trump Organization CFO Alan Weisselberg (who pleaded guilty to 15 felony charges last month), and the Trump Organization itself. . The suit alleges a long-standing pattern of financial fraud in which, James alleges, the Trump Organization deliberately inflated the value of its assets, including all of Trump’s most famous flashy properties, when seeking loans, to secure more generous credit terms.

In typical Trump fashion, the alleged frauds range from the brazen to the bizarre and somewhat sad.

Deception appears to have been central to the Trump Organization’s business model. James alleges the practice went on for years, citing 11 of the Trump Organization’s annual financial reports, which Trump personally signed, that his office says contain more than 200 fraudulent asset valuations. Just as Trump allegedly inflated the value of his assets when he was looking for a loan, there is some evidence to suggest that he understated the value of those same assets when it came time to pay his taxes. James’ office does not have the authority to file criminal charges against Trump in this matter, but his lawsuit is accompanied by criminal referrals, both to the US District Attorney’s office in New York and to the IRS.

In typical Trump fashion, the alleged frauds range from the brazen to the bizarre and somewhat sad. Assessing the value of his own apartment, the gilded casino lobby atop Trump Tower in Manhattan, where he was photographed before the presidency, Melania Trump pouting behind him in a pink cape, Trump is accused of inflating the plane three times. The apartment is approximately 11,000 square feet; Trump allegedly claimed it was 30,000, to value it at $327 million.

At Trump Park Avenue, a high-rise apartment building he owns a few blocks away, 12 units were reserved by law as rent stabilized; rates could not be raised and tenants could not be evicted. But Trump allegedly valued the property as if he were collecting market-rate rents on those apartments, a fiction that increased the value of the building by almost 70 times.

At Mar-A-Lago, the Florida resort-residence where he allegedly set up a fake Oval Office ever since he was kicked out of the White House, and where he was allegedly keeping some of the government’s most sensitive secrets in full view of all but plain sight. he apparently lied about the property’s potential. He allegedly claimed that Mar-A-Lago was eligible to be converted into residential properties, inflating its value to a whopping $739 million. In reality, the site is subject to a number of zoning and environmental restrictions that restrict its development potential. His real value is something like $75 million.

Related: New York Attorney General’s Lawsuit Accuses Trump of ‘Amazing’ Fraud

Trump has long been defined by his own stark artificiality, and the frauds alleged in James’ complaint are so in keeping with his character that even the brazenness of the apparent embezzlement has ceased to be impressive. After all, it’s always like that with Trump: his trademark phoniness, both his personal style and his claims to wealth and his politics, his promises to those who follow him. Everything, without fail, is crazier and cheaper than what Trump says. The silk snags and turns out to be polyester; leather peels off to reveal plastic; the chipping of the gilt edges, a flimsy spray paint. Everything and everything is oriented towards his own aggrandizement and away from any personal responsibility.

Either he’s the singularly powerful savior of “Only I Can Fix It,” or he’s the helpless victim of a “witch hunt.” Either he is the best businessman that ever lived, or a humble guy, like the salt of the earth. He is always right, he always has a unique ability and intelligence, and yet he is never to blame for anything. At the end of The Wizard of Oz, when the “great and powerful” wizard turns out to be a sad and insecure person devoid of magic, the man behind the curtain becomes an object of pity, someone who needs an elaborate psychological edifice to tolerating a world where you are not special, not anointed for greatness, but simply scared and small. But Trump cannot evoke this pity, because he has made it clear that he would rather destroy the country, and all of us with it, than abandon his delusions.

James’ suit is just the latest in the former president’s series of legal battles. He is being sued for defamation by writer E Jean Carroll, whom Trump accused of lying after she accused him of rape, and this week she announced she would also sue him for rape, under a new New York law that briefly extends statute civil limitations for victims of sexual assault.

The NAACP is suing him for violating the Voting Rights Act when he claimed voter fraud in 2020. The DC Attorney General is suing him for misusing funds from the 2017 inauguration; he is being sued by capitol police and apparently all congressional Democrats for the January 6 riots. And that’s just what couldn’t land him in jail: There’s also a latent criminal investigation into the bogus voters scheme in Atlanta and, of course, the Justice Department’s investigation into his smuggling classified documents to Mar-A-Lago. .

It’s easy to sue Trump and it’s attractive. He seems to break the law with the same intuitive ease most of us just feel for breath, and a lawsuit against him can bring good press to any of the legions of ambitious, status-seeking liberal lawyers that populate white shoe firms. . But like other rich men who break the law, Trump tends to evade the consequences. Besides lying, he is perhaps his greatest talent.

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