Election 2024: Verdicts

Two major news stories broke yesterday, each involving a verdict of sorts, each involving a death penalty of sorts, and each seemingly inevitable.

One story involved Trump. Judge Engoron released his ruling in the Trump Org civil fraud case, and it was roughly as unfavorable to Trump and his family as one would have expected. I intend to write at greater length about this case another time, but the bottom line is that Trump et al owe New York State $355 million in penalties, plus interest that could amount to almost another $100 million. Additionally, Trump himself cannot serve as the director or officer of any New York corporation for 3 years, and his sons cannot do the same for 2 years. I guess that leaves Ivanka in charge?

Trump is also banned for applying for a loan from any entity licensed by the New York Department of Financial Services for 3 years. Moreover, there is ongoing injunctive relief with respect to the Trump Organization. Judge Jones’ appointment as independent monitor will extend for another 3 years, with additional powers; also, Trump Org will now be required to hire an independent director of compliance, reporting directly to Jones.

The only good news the ruling provided for Trump is that Engoron reversed his previous decision (which had been stayed) to cancel all of Trump’s New York LLC licenses; instead, this new compliance director will individually review each LLC for “restructuring and potential dissolution.” As such, the ruling is not a ‘death penalty’ with respect to Trump’s continued ability to conduct business in New York. However, it is a significant black mark on his record, as well as a massive strain on his liquidity due to the need to either put up the fines in escrow or obtain a bond, as with the Carroll defamation judgment.

The other story involved Alexei Navalny, the most prominent Russian opposition political figure. He died yesterday in a Siberian prison at the age of 47, three-and-a-half years after he had been poisoned (almost assuredly by Russian security forces), and three years after he voluntarily returned to Russia only to be immediately arrested.

The cause of death is unknown, but surely the proximate cause was his life of political resistance to Putin. Indeed, once he had decided to return to Russia by himself, leaving his wife and teenagers in exile, it was hard to imagine an ending to his story that didn’t end with his death as a political prisoner.

This may be too much to hope for, but possibly Navalny’s death will stem the rising tide of pro-Putin sentiment within the Republican party and its hangers-on, most recently illustrated by Tucker Carlson’s trip last week to Moscow to fawningly interview Putin.