Why didn't they go after Trump? Several weeks ago, Donny Deutsch said it again.
He'd said it on Morning Joe several times. On February 27, he said it in prime time, speaking to Lawrence O'Donnell, on the evening of the day when Michael Cohen testified in public.
Deutsch has said, many times, that everyone in New York always knew that the Trump organization was a criminal enterprise, the lowest of the low.
This raises a rather obvious question! First, though, let's consider the way he said it to Lawrence that night.
Note the way Deutsch assumes the greatness of the federal prosecutors who people the offices of the mighty Southern District of New York. Praise for the Southern District's ferocity is standard fare on cable:
DEUTSCH (2/27/19): [Cohen's testimony] is an opening act. The day that you'll have me back on is when the Southern District RICOs the Trump organization—that's the Racketeering Influence Corrupt Organization Act, which is introduced when people sit atop a criminal organization, where basically they will go after everything this criminal organization has done, from the charities to the money laundering to bank fraud to wire fraud to insurance fraud.The gumshoes in the Southern District will be taking the Trump org apart!
They'll take the empire apart. They'll take the buildings away. That's when I'll come back on the show, because that will be the closing act.
This and Mueller will be the opening act. And what you saw today—and I still think that Russia is going to be a sidebar into this—is a peek inside this criminal enterprise.
You saw the little pieces coming into play. You saw the word "insurance" come up for the first time. You saw him [Cohen] mentioning the children in different ways. You saw obviously the campaign violation, but that's not where this ends. This ends where—
If you live in New York City—I ran a big advertising agency for years. There were bankers and lawyers and real estate developers. What everybody knows about Donald Trump and his organization, it is the slimiest of the slime. It is just the way they do business.
It is dishonest. It is unethical. It is criminal. And the Southern District will take it apart.
On Morning Joe, Deutsch has often said that everyone in New York has always known that the Trump org was the slimiest of the slimy—that it was an unvarnished criminal enterprise. Everyone has always known that, Deutsch has frequently said.
This raises an obvious question. If everyone has always known that, why didn't the vaunted Southern District take Trump down long before this?
In the familiar novelizations favored on anti-Trump "cable news" shows, everybody likes to boast about the toughness of the Southern District. No one asks how these ferocious federal players could have let so much slime exist under their noses so long.
There may be a very good answer to that! That said, a related question arose last night during All In with Chris Hayes.
Hayes spoke with Jed Shugerman, a legal eagle. When Hayes asked a very good question, note what Shugerman said:
HAYES (3/12/19): You know, I hear this and I have the Paul Manafort question, which is, "How is this just going on in plain sight for so long?"...I mean, this was all in plain sight. What is it saying about the fact that no one has [prosecuted] this before?Cyrus Vance isn't the federal Southern District. Cyrus Vance is the Manhattan D.A. That said:
SHUGERMAN: Well, it's great that [New York State] Attorney General [Letitia] James is now on it. But let's be clear:
There is public reporting about what happened under Cyrus Vance's watch. The Manhattan D.A. had his office investigating. And they were ready to bring indictments for Ivanka Trump and Don Jr. for criminal real estate fraud. And somehow, coincidentally, those charges were not pursued when, coincidentally, there was a massive campaign donation to Cyrus Vance's re-election campaign by Marc Kasowitz, a Trump associate.
HAYES: And they had them essentially with e-mails, right? In which they're misrepresenting two people, material misrepresentation for the vacancy rates, which is just fraud basically on its face, right?
SHUGERMAN: Absolutely. So now at least we have an opportunity for Cyrus Vance to redeem himself.
Shugerman explained, rather casually, why Vance didn't act in one particular case. We have no idea if Shugerman's claim is correct, but at least it starts to answer a fairly obvious question, a question which rarely gets asked.
Last night, Hayes asked this obvious question. In his reply, Shugerman said, rather casually, that the Manhattan D.A. had been bought.
Let's get back to Donny Deutsch. If Deutsch is right—if everybody always knew that the Trump org was a criminal enterprise—why didn't the vaunted Southern District get after Trump until now?
There may be a very good answer to that question! But in the novelized realm of cable news, everybody knows not to ask. Last night, Hayes spoke up.
To Trump voters, the sudden burst of prosecutions has the look of a targeted "witch hunt." We'd say there does seem to be something strange about the way this prosecutorial chase has gone down, though the apparent peculiarity of this state of affairs rarely gets explained or discussed.
Last night, Hayes asked a very good question. In response to his very good question, we were told that the D.A. got bought.
He'll have a chance to redeem himself now. So cable viewers were told!