Judge Engoron handed Donald J. Trump a crushing defeat in his civil fraud case, finding the former president liable for conspiring to manipulate his net worth and ordering him to pay a penalty of nearly $355 million plus interest that could wipe out his entire stockpile of cash.

The decision by Justice Arthur F. Engoron caps a chaotic, yearslong case in which New York’s attorney general put Mr. Trump’s fantastical claims of wealth on trial. With no jury, the power was in Justice Engoron’s hands alone, and he came down hard: The judge delivered a sweeping array of punishments that threatens the former president’s business empire as he simultaneously contends with four criminal prosecutions and seeks to regain the White House.

Justice Engoron barred Mr. Trump for three years from serving in top roles at any New York company, including portions of his own Trump Organization. He also imposed a two-year ban on the former president’s adult sons and ordered that they pay more than $4 million each. One of them, Eric Trump, is the company’s de facto chief executive, and the ruling throws into doubt whether any member of the family can run the business in the near term.

The judge also ordered that they pay substantial interest, pushing the penalty for the former president to $450 million, according to the attorney general, Letitia James.

Justice Engoron criticized Mr. Trump and the other defendants for refusing to admit wrongdoing for years. “Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological,” “defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways.” (New York Times).
In other words,  Judge Engoron is telling us what we all know from watching Trump for years: Trump lies with impunity and is unable or unwilling to stop himself from doing so. He lies as he breathes.
As part of the penalty, Trump will have an independent monitor, Barbara Jones, who will oversee the financial activities of the Trump Organization.

Barbara Jones, will get to appoint an independent director of compliance to work under her, and the Trump Organization will have to pay them.

“By installing this additional layer, this compliance director, it’s a person who’s literally sitting at Trump Organization, and nothing can go out, nothing can be issued without that person approving,” said Diana Florence, a former federal prosecutor.


Judge Engoron was being restrained in his assessment. Trump has a serious psychological problem with the truth. We have seen this over and over again before, during and after his presidency. He said the pandemic would magically end quickly. Hydroxychloroquine would cure it. He used a black magic marker on a map to reimagine the path of a storm and insisted his version was accurate. He was tracked telling 30,000 consequential lies during his presidency. He lied about E. Jean Carroll, saying he didn’t know her even though he raped her. The Big Lie that he won in 2020 when he lost resulted in the shocking result of the storming of the capitol on January 6th. Trump lied about his wealth and the size of his real estate properties to gain advantage and make money describing them one way or another to banks and financial entities or the IRS to get the most money out of the system he was shortchanging. Trump is all about the hype, the grift, the self-serving lie.
The same ability to be a convincing con artist who can sell anything to rubes, including the Trump University con and now golden sneakers at about $400 a pair ($399 Never Surrender sneakers unveiled over the weekend at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia), help Trump appeal to an ever-adoring cult base (and trivialize the criminal cases that are coming for him), but working the con also just cost him over $450 million dollars in his civil fraud case before Judge Engoron. Maybe he can con his followers, but he can’t con the judicial system unless the judge is in his cult or he gets a holdout cult member juror.
Trump has been called a sociopath with psychopathic tendencies. Some think he is delusional. Some say he is just an effective marketer. Even when he is told the truth as a starting point, the truth gets bent and altered by him to fit his self-serving narrative. Maybe he even comes to believe his own remade reality with a fervent conviction that would pass a lie detector test. But whether or not Trump buys his own schtick, he convinces others who want to believe the invented reality he creates.
The Big Lie is a great example of unreality becoming a foundational myth which is now shared by millions of Republicans. But the cumulative lies are also leading to his ruin. What is getting him re-elected by his MAGA cult is also what is getting him slammed by the legal system, a system that is firmly rooted in reality and facts. Not hype.


It took a long time for the wheels of justice to begin to turn in response to Trump’s extensive lies to gain power and stay in power. While president he could exert influence to stop processes that would hold him accountable. Once out of office, it took time to build the cases against him. It always takes time for FBI and other federal agents to investigate and build a case. When I worked in the US Attorneys office, white collar crime cases took years to investigate because agents have to talk with people who reveal information that leads to other information and data and people to interview which leads to other information and so on. Agents also establish the same fact multiple ways to be sure it is accurate. Getting to the truth takes time. Lying about things takes no time at all.

Now that the legal system is moving, it is inching inevitably towards the ultimate showdown that has been in the making since Trump came on the scene politically.

Lies die in courtrooms. Facts matter and laws matter in courtrooms.  A delusional version of alternate reality is not even allowed into evidence.

It is surprising how few Republicans still are unable to reject Trump’s delusional reality since they know better, but it also makes sense once you understand the desperation of a shrinking Republican Party wanting to grasp onto power. With the help of the MAGAs who adore Trump and GOP representatives who are getting elected in safely gerrymandered districts where they only need to be card carrying Republicans to win (Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Matt Goetz, Lauren Boebert and many others), Republicans hitched their wagon to Trump BECAUSE he spoke MAGA to the MAGAs.

The legal system doesn’t speak MAGA. Hype doesn’t work in courts. Grift gets punished. The legal system is slowly undermining the alternate universe Trump built. Unfortunately, the movement Trump built has grown larger over time especially with Evangelicals.

Is Trump losing any momentum? He has lost 200,000 small dollar donors compared to his last presidential run. Some of the largest Republican donors are supporting Nikki Haley. He is trying to replace Ronna Mc Daniels as head of the RNC with his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, so that he can milk the RNC coffers because his legal expenses are enormous and still growing exponentially. If Trump gets this replacement, it will damage the GOP spending power in down ballot races.

As Trump’s trials continue Trump can’t help being himself on view for all of America to witness: his petulant toddler tantrums, his incessant, juvenile insults about the judges and prosecutors, his insistence that everyone is lying about him, and his tiresome victimhood. Trump’s cult followers might be willing to suspend their belief about who Trump is but most Americans aren’t that willing to be duped. It has fallen to the legal system to help deconstruct Trump.


One of the first takedowns was E. Jean Carroll’s win against Trump. Turns out, Almighty Trump can lose a case before a jury of average Americans sitting in judgement who learn the facts unaltered by conservative media.

The next penetration of Trump’s alternate reality bubble is Judge Engoron’s ruling that exposes Trump’s creation myth as a wildly successful real estate mogul as a lie.

The likely next case coming, the election interference case with a Stormy Daniels hush money payoff, is about the lie that Trump is a sober, law abiding family man who tells the truth about his finances and is “presidential”. These lies were an attempt to keep Americans in the dark about who they were voting for in 2016. The facts of that case will further expose Trump as a pathol0gical liar who never takes responsibility for his acts.

The ultimate bubble burster of Trump’s alternate reality could be Jack Smith’s case. The facts in that case will expose Trump’s coup plot effort to stay in power culminating on January 6th with the assault on the capitol in an attempt to overturn the election he knew he lost. That case will be damning to Trump and could be in the news right about the time Americans pay attention to politics before voting this November.


Sarah Longwell of The Bulwark tracks the opinions and views of Trump supporters and Independents in focus groups. When it came to Trump supporters who voted for Trump two times but will not vote for him again in 2024, the single most important incident that changed their mind about voting for Trump was …(drumroll) …the insurrection on January 6th.

That means the Congressional hearing on January 6th penetrated the disinformation bubble. Even some Americans who watch Fox News and rely on other right wing propaganda media learned the truth about that day and think what Trump did was un-American. Someone in that focus group said “life’s too short” to keep voting for this guy. Yep. Good observation. A little late, but better late than never.


Of course not every Republican who understands what happened on January 6 will vote for Joe Biden. Many will stay home.

A third party candidate is still a huge threat to our democracy and our rights because of the votes that could be siphoned off from Biden. In Sarah Longwell’s focus groups many Republicans have faith that if Trump gets elected the checks and balance system built into our constitution will keep Trump from doing his worst.

They are wrong about that.

These folks have not read the book Strongmen by Ruth Ben-Ghiat. In that book she tracks the historical rise of authoritarians who gain power using democratic conventions, rules and norms in a democracy to take over.  Once in power, they deconstruct democracy and rule with an iron hand. Personal freedoms are eradicated.

Too many people think Trump should not be taken seriously when he says he will be a dictator on day one. He is not saying “I will ONLY be a dictator on day one.” He is saying: “On day one I will be a dictator and I’ll keep it up every day after that”. Trump 2.0 would have no guardrails.  Trump feels persecuted and he wants revenge. Trump 2.0 will go after people he is convinced have persecuted him and put them in jail or set his followers on them to hound them. He will be more grandiose than he was before.

Too many Americans think our system will hold. It will not.

The Heritage Foundation and Center for Renewing America are aligned with Christian Nationalism. They are working even now to make sure that if Trump gets back in power he will have the power of a dictator. Google Project 2025. Read up about it. And read about how “Awaken America” is bringing God into government as part of the Christian Nationalist movement. Mike Flynn, remember him? is behind the idea that Trump was put here by God and that freedom is defined by God not man.

This Christian Nationalist movement is behind the recent Alabama Supreme Court decision that embryos are “babies”. That decision has abruptly ended invitro fertilization in Alabama. Doctors and nurses fear they will lose their licenses or be criminally charged if they help women get pregnant using IVF in that state. Other states with Republican state legislatures are said to be readying similar laws that will ban IVF in their states.


The far right Republicans may not believe that Trump could win outright, but getting Trump into power doesn’t require that. Their goal, very likely, is to make sure Biden doesn’t get to 270 in the Electoral College. That way the outcome of the election is thrown to the House where state legislatures would determine the presidency. This was the John Eastman playbook that didn’t work in 2020 because Biden won a clear victory. But if there is a 3rd party candidate and Biden doesn’t get to 270, then the vote gets thrown to the House.  Since there are still more red state legislatures than blue state legislatures, the election would go to the Republican candidate for president. This time Trump would appear to win “fair and square.”

As we get closer to the election, watch for ultra rich right-wing Republicans to bolster someone like Robert Kennedy, the crazy anti-vax candidate, or talk Nikki Haley into becoming the No Labels candidate. A lot of voters would fall for the 3rd party candidate who would not win given the choice of Biden or Trump. This is a clever way to rig the win for Trump so that state legislatures would get the final say in the decision about our next president. If you see the rise of a 3rd party candidate, understand the game plan and tell everyone you know to vote early for Biden no matter what they think about him for the sake of preserving their own freedoms and rights.