45 – Living in an Unprecedented Time in History

We often take the present day for granted. Daily life is not often considered notable, even when it should be. Many people, although generally aware of the current divided and hostile political climate, do not comprehend the significance of the current President, along with the long-lasting historical relevance of this present day. This period of time — the recent past, present, and distant future, will be studied and disputed for centuries by the scholars and historians of tomorrow.

Every Presidential election is unique and impactful in their own right. Just as recently as 2008, two years prior to that election, many voters may not have even known that there was a newly elected Senator from Illinois, who would go on to become the 44th President of the United States, serving two terms in office. As we know, that newly elected Senator, Barack Obama, would upset the favorite for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton. Obama went on to win the White House after two short years in the United States Senate, this was unheard of at the time. However, the 2016 Presidential Election was the first of its kind. The majority of pundits, pollsters, analysts, and the majority of average Americans were fully expecting the seemingly certain election of former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton as the next President of The United States. The set of standards and expectations, behaviors, and rhetoric that have long been associated with and followed by respected and successful politicians, especially Presidential candidates, were erased in 2016 and are now being rewritten. November 8th, 2016 – the night that the New York real estate developer and TV star, Donald J. Trump shocked the world by being elected the 45th President of The United States of America.

From his very first full day in office, controversy struck. The President’s press secretary, in his first press briefing, explained that the President’s inauguration-crowd size was, “The largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period.” This was not true. There were many different explanations later on, through the Press Secretary and the President himself regarding the matter, but the importance of this example does not lie within the substance of this story, it showed us the beginning of a pattern. The relevance of this? It seemingly set the central topic of his entire Presidency — controversy.

Before taking the oath of office, Donald Trump was no stranger to controversy. In the 1970s, the United States government sued the Trump Organization for racial discrimination in regard to whom the company leased and rented apartments to in New York City. Trump’s company labelled African-American applicant forms with a large-written, ¨B¨ – over 90% of applicants whose papers were labelled in this manner were not leased or rented to, they would go on to lose that case and pay a sizable fine. Along with countless legal cases throughout Trump’s life including, but certainly not limited to, Trump University (Trump was ordered to pay over $25M back to students), State of NY Vs. The Trump Foundation (includes extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump’s personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations.), The Trump SOHO Hotel in New York, a Bayrock Group and Trump Organization joint development project was called, “a monument to spectacularly corrupt money-laundering and tax evasion.” by former Bayrock Group Finance Director, Jody Kriss. Kriss, through the Mueller Probe, has exposed The Bayrock Group as, “a money-laundering operation, used to conceal transfers of illicit funds and disguise them as legitimate real estate transactions.” – That is the company that Donald Trump and his organization partnered with in NYC, the Trump SOHO Hotel has since dropped, “Trump” from the title. The amount of legal trouble the President has faced in his life, some cases even filed by the United States, the country he now governs, is unprecedented of an American President.

President Trump discovered at a very young age that attention is everything. Along with being a master manipulator, he is an even better brander. His failures in his career as a businessman often lay in the shadows of how he presents himself and what he says in public. Donald Trump is not a successful businessman, he is an invincible brand. He has not overseen development of any major construction project in 20+ years. He has however, sold his name in licensing deals to other companies, these companies independently develop and construct hotels, apartment buildings, and license his name for the title of their new building (Hilton, Sheraton, etc). When Trump licenses his name to other companies, he does no actual business work, other than signing his very popular name on the contract. Donald Trump also has not released his tax returns since 1995, which leads into two more very important aspects of our 45th President.

First point: if Trump is the brilliant businessman that he has marketed himself to be since the early 1970s, why did his last publicly-viewed tax return show a $915M loss listed under his annual income for the year? I do not know many incredibly successful businessmen losing nearly a billion dollars in a single year. This also begs the question, why has the President been so reluctant to release his personal tax returns? The President and his team have danced around this issue publicly since early 2015. For a better perspective on how long he has been dodging this, the Iowa primary caucus was in February 2016. He is now almost a full two years into his term as President of The United States.

One of the most difficult aspects of reporting on President Trump (or frankly even having personal opinions of him) are the constant, seemingly endless list of questions without answers: why would he hide his taxes? Within that question alone, you could point to business failures, possibly illegal business practices, possible payments that may appear suspicious to the Special Counsel which has been investigating him since late 2016, we do not know. The most difficult aspect of this man is the uncertainty surrounding him.

Since his election, the excitement has not died down. Daily, there is a new tweet, a new attack, and the ongoing Special Counsel Investigation into Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign and Russian meddling continue to loom over Trump’s Presidency. Two days ago, the President’s former personal lawyer, former executive VP at The Trump Organization, and longtime Trump-confidant Michael Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison for personal tax evasion, campaign finance law violation, and lying to congress. Although one of those charges is unrelated to the President, the other two charges could implicate the sitting President of The United States. Along with Donald Trump’s former attorney being sentenced, emails between Cohen and a former Russian mobster, Felix Sater – a convicted felon for tax fraud, money laundering, and directing a pyramid scheme of $20M, and business partner turned campaign advisor for President Trump, exchanged very troubling emails. “Michael…Buddy our boy can become President of The USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this…” – Felix Sater to Michael Cohen, 2015. We are witnessing history first hand — the time we are living in now, will be infamous in history. The outcome? The truth? Is not yet known. All we can do is speculate as to why one of Trump’s right hand men would lie to congress concerning the President and his campaign.

This troubling information, the looming investigation, and the previous-false statements given by The Trump Organization, Executive VP Michael Cohen’s sentencing in federal prison, and false statements (albeit not under oath) made by the President, all beg the question — what is going on here? We do not know for certain, and I will not assume guilt, as nobody should, until all facts are presented and these cases are all processed through the legal system. To say however, that all of these legal cases, indictments of former campaign managers, company executives being sentenced to prison time, multiple lies from the President himself and what appears to be an attempt at a coverup do not cause alarm or distrust, would be unintelligent, unethical, and ultimately, a personal lie to whomever actually would dismiss these compelling and possibly illegal acts.

Past all of the previous and current legal trouble that the President faces, we still do not know the important business details which would possibly shed light and reveal answers to some of the many questions which surround President Trump. In January, when the newly-elected Democratic-led congress takes office, expect to see the President’s personal tax returns subpoenaed. Donald Trump has known links to the Russian government, has expressed public and private interest in developing buildings in Russia, has taken hundreds of millions of dollars from The Central Bank of Russia to finance and build several projects, has known Russian criminals and several campaign associates with business or governmental ties to the Kremlin, and has blatantly lied to the American public about all of these realities. Although there is new direct evidence to point to Russian-Trump election fraud or collusion, the stage is certainly set. As Republicans, defending the President in this environment is nearly impossible. At best, the President of The United States hired mobsters and criminals to run his campaign for the Presidency, while simultaneously trying to cover up his past relationships with the Russian government and Russian funding of his projects, while actively pursuing a development project well into the 2016 Presidential campaign. At worst, we could be facing the biggest and most successful attack on our free election system and entire system of government in the history of this country — tread lightly, Trump-defenders. As a devout conservative and life-long fan of Donald Trump, I hope that these facts can all be explained and justified in a court of law for the country’s sake, and can clear the President’s name, no party or group would benefit from the potential threat to our system of government we would face as a country if collusion was found to have taken place. Even as a Republican or a fan of President Trump, to ignore these compelling facts or stopping the investigation from completing its work, would be nothing short of turning a blind eye to justice itself. No man is above the law in this country, and no President takes rank over the system of government which the founders created to ensure our freedom, regardless of policy agreements, political gain, or personal liking of the man in question.  

Another aspect that must be taken into account when judging the character and success of this President, he follows no consistent personal moral code. The President has been caught funneling hush money to mistresses, has repeatedly contradicted himself, and has not displayed any deep-seeded moral principles through his long time in public life. Donald Trump sells himself, he is the best promotor, manipulator, and brand that has ever existed. How else could a largely-failed businessman ever be worth billions of dollars, win the nomination of the Republican Party after being a lifelong Democrat, along with never holding any previous public office — permanently changing the political landscape of not only the Republican party and the United States, but the of the entire world if he was not? The man can sell, there has been nobody better than him in this regard.

After everything that has been presented, one might be wondering, how does Trump live past that record? From a linguistic and communication standpoint, Trump is a genius. Trump, at face value, sounds misinformed at times, and often appears to lack detailed knowledge of issues. However, he is much smarter than he gets credit for. He forms his sentences grammatically inaccurate on purpose, ending his statements with, ¨buzzwords,¨ which would normally be placed in the middle of a sentence. 78% of the words Donald Trump uses in his various different speeches and debates are one-syllable; salesmen are known keep it simple. In the following quote, you will see a statement Trump gave regarding a shooting in California in 2015. This answer may not seem unusual at first, however, just imagine another more sported politician, even yourself, discussing the same news and you will see differences. “You see what happened in California, with fourteen people dead, other people going to die, they’re so so badly injured.” – He is implicating his listener from the very beginning. Implying that you, “have seen” what he is referring to creates a more personal connection with the listener, but also makes himself seem more credible. He speaks quickly, he avoids longer words, with more syllables, because that complicates his message and is less likely to be remembered by the listener. He often tags his statements with powerful, usually negative buzzwords to end his statement, tremendous, disgraceful, unbelievable, dead, bad, etc. These language tactics are designed to get listeners/voters to remember his important points. People are almost twice as likely to remember what is said at the end of a verbal statement, opposed to the words which make up the rest of whatever is being verbally explained. He has the salesman-knack and he uses this in the political world, the first to do so with such success.

As a conservative, I am very wary of this President. As a kid, I watched The Apprentice, I remember being a huge fan of his from a very young age. The board room setting, his serious tone, and his seemingly executive decisions made him appear as, you guessed it, Presidential. I was fascinated and obsessed with his advertised success, his lifestyle, how he presented and conducted himself in public, he was a role model of mine growing up. This very abnormal past with Donald Trump makes judging him now very complicated for me, personally. I am also a lifelong Republican, raised in a household which values God, manners, class, and respect. Donald J. Trump embodies none of those values. Although I do agree with many of his policy changes, (tax cuts, tariffs on currency manipulators like China, border law enforcement, etc) the man is despicable and lives by no moral code. I admire his confidence in himself and I partially appreciate his brash, simple, and sales-pitch approach to political discussion. I think that many many Americans may feel similarly to how I feel about him now. I agree with the party he represents, I understand and support many of his policy choices, but his lack of morals, class, consistency and his possible legal issues cause great concern.

The Trump Presidency is the most unique and arguably one of the most controversial in our country’s history. In my opinion, Donald Trump is one of the most interesting public figures in history. There have been hundreds of career politicians, thousands of Senators, and hundreds of thousands whom have sought the Presidency of The United States. Even with the countless public figures and leaders of the past, and future, nobody will ever have the past or character of Donald Trump again in our history. He is one of the most publicized, reported, most controversial figure in the world today. Yet, at the same time, most of his legacy still is in question. His business past, his possible illegal business practices, connections to foreign powers, the possible collusion and coordination of a rigged Presidential election, nobody knows the answers to the hundreds of questions which circle President Donald Trump – only time will tell, and history will decide the legacy which Donald Trump will leave this country and the rest of the world.

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