Donald Trump declared at a speech in Virginia Beach, Virginia today that he is “the law and order candidate” for president.
It’s obvious why Trump would do this: He’s the candidate of a party traditionally associated with that phrase and he’s running during a time of high-profile social unrest. His opponent was, until last week, the subject of a prominent FBI investigation. Politically, it’s the right move.
However, if you look with a careful eye at Donald Trump’s career-long history of violating every possible law, rule, and norm at every possible opportunity, it starts to seem a touch hypocritical of him to present himself in this manner.
Among the reasons to suspect that Trump’s newly attested belief in lawful, moral conduct may not be entirely sincere:
Trump’s current campaign manager has worked extensively on behalf of notorious human-rights criminals. Paul Manfort’s past clients include Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko and the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos, among many other members of the “Torturers’ Lobby,” who were not known for cultivating lawful, orderly societies.
Trump’s former campaign manager was arrested on a battery charge after grabbing and yanking a female reporter. Both Trump and the ex-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, lied publicly about the circumstances of the incident, for which Lewandowski was ultimately not charged. In an especially ironic twist, Lewandowski grabbed the reporter—an act ostensibly committed out of concern that she was violating Trump’s personal space—in view of Secret Service agents, i.e. the people actually assigned to protect law and order at the time.
Trump panders to dangerous white extremists. On more than one occasion Trump has retweeted or otherwise disseminated the work of individuals who believe in the paranoid “white genocide” theory of ongoing race war. Trump has also found support in the white supremacist community more broadly, nominating one high-profile white nationalist to be a Republican National Convention delegate. White extremists have been responsible for a number of domestic terror attacks in recent decades, most prominently in Oklahoma City in 1995. They tend to be choosy about which laws they respect, and the order they want to establish is monochromatic and would come only at the cost of a great deal of disorder.
Trump has vowed on several occasions to violate U.S. and international laws. In March, Trump was publicly shamed into disavowing his claim that he would pressure military officers to break human rights laws. In other words, at one point, Trump’s official position involved ordering other people to break laws.
Trump’s longtime butler and “historian” has called for President Obama to be lynched. See here for more on Trump and Anthony Senecal. (Lynching is against the law.)
Trump was fined for violating racial discrimination laws in an effort to placate a mafia-affiliated tax-fraud felon who was a top casino customer. See here for more on Trump and Robert LiButti. (Committing tax fraud is against the law.)
Another one of Trump’s ‘80s associates was a cocaine trafficker for whom Trump reportedly did several legal favors. See here for more on Trump and Joseph Weischselbaum. (Trafficking cocaine is against the law.)
One of Trump’s “senior advisors” at the Trump Organization had been convicted of racketeering and of stabbing a man in the face. See here for more on Trump and Felix Sater. (Stabbing people in the face is against the law.)
One of Trump’s earliest professional mentors was an attorney for the Genovese mafia family. See here for more on Trump and Roy Cohn. (Being a mafia family is against the law.)
One of Trump’s top current advisors is at the center of a multi-felony scandal in New Jersey. See here for more on Trump and Chris Christie, whose administration allegedly broke the law to disrupt the orderly flow of traffic.
Another one of Trump’s top current advisors was the first House speaker in history to be disciplined by his own chamber for unethical behavior. See here for more on Trump and Newt Gingrich, whose conduct was found to be out of order after he lied to authorities investigating a violation of election law.
Trump’s family business was sued for violating federal housing laws prohibiting racial discrimination. That was in 1973 and involved the Trump Management company of which Donald Trump was president. The company resolved the lawsuit without admitting guilt in a settlement. Eliminating organized racial discrimination has been a mission of U.S. law-and-order institutions for the last half-century.
Trump’s ex-wife Ivana once accused him of raping her. Trump has denied the allegation, and in 1993 Ivana put out a statement asserting that her accusation should not be taken in the “literal or criminal sense.” Needless to say, despite the statement, marital rape is against the law.
Trump is being sued for fraud by New York’s attorney general. The New York AG’s case is one of three lawsuits that Trump faces for defrauding customers of his bogus boiler-room “Trump University” scam. On the whole, USA Today found that Trump has been a defendant in a staggering 1,300 lawsuits.
Violent incidents take place at Trump’s rallies at a rate with no precedent in modern political history. On several occasions Trump has publicly defended supporters who attacked nonviolent protesters and/or fantasized about attacks taking place. He suggested he might pay the legal bills for one white supporter who attacked a peaceful black protester who was facing in a different direction. (Attacking someone else for no reason is against the law.)
Trump has admitted to abusing a program involving visas for foreign workers. That would be the H-1B visa program, which Trump himself describes as “bad for business” and “bad for our workers.” In other words, he may have followed the letter of the law, but he violated its spirit.
A judge found that Trump knowingly hired undocumented immigrants from Poland to work on a construction project. A nation’s borders are its most prominent and sacred symbols of law and order. For shame, Mr. Trump!
Trump’s campaign has violated election law. Violating election law is against the law.
Taken as a whole, I believe the available evidence does not support Donald Trump’s claim to be “the law and order candidate.”