Donald Trump is not big on loyalty to anyone else – with one major exception.
When it comes to his immediate family – especially his adult children – Trump is uncharacteristically loyal, demonstrating a fatherly pride and protectiveness that he shows to no one else in life.
“I have a lot of good relationships,” Trump has said. “I have good enemies, too, which is okay. But I think more of my family than others.”
In all of his endeavors – from his real estate business to his reality TV empire to his White House tenure – Trump has installed his children as his deputies, a clear signal that he only really trusts the people who are related to him by blood.
Consider that fact in light of the news on Wednesday that New York Attorney General Letitia James filed suit against Trump as well as his three eldest children (Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric), alleging they broke a variety of state laws including insurance fraud, the falsification of business records and false financial statements.
“These acts of fraud and misrepresentation were similar in nature, were committed by upper management at the Trump Organization as part of a common endeavor for each annual Statement, and were approved at the highest levels of the Trump Organization – including by Mr. Trump himself,” the lawsuit reads.
Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, called the lawsuit an “unchecked abuse of authority.”
Which is what Trump and his allies say about pretty much everything – from Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to his impeachment over his dealings with Ukraine to his role in the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol.
He’s also used similar language to dismiss convictions of those in his orbit and, at times, inner circle.
In commuting the prison sentence of Roger Stone, Trump’s one-time political svengali, the then-President blasted “overzealous prosecutors” who used “witch hunts” and the “Russia hoax” to initially convict Stone of seven felony crimes. When he pardoned his one-time campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump blasted what he believed to “prosecutorial misconduct.”
But even in spite of that past rhetorical largesse, this lawsuit will hit differently for Trump. This isn’t about his longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg, pleading guilty to a 15-year-long tax fraud scheme. This is about his flesh and blood faced with the daunting prospect of having to defend themselves against a robust civil lawsuit that makes major claims – like that Trump valued his Mar-a-Lago estate as high as $739 million when it should have been closer to $75 million (among many other things).
That makes this threat to Trump different in kind than anything he’s ever faced before. In the past, there was always a fall guy who could be sacrificed as the one who made the mistakes – and maintain the notion that the family, the true inner circle, was unaware of what was really happening.
That is going to be very hard to do with this case. Because many of the people implicated here are family.
All of which makes this a moment uniquely situated to make Trump feel cornered. And when he is cornered, he gets angry. Often very angry.
Witness his post on Truth Social in the wake of James’ announcement.
“Another Witch Hunt by a racist Attorney General, Letitia James, who failed in her run for governor, getting almost zero support from the public,” wrote Trump. “She is a fraud who campaigned on a ‘get Trump’ platform.”
Expect a lot more where that came from.