Gregg Barak Explores Criminology on Trump

Gregg Barak has written a new book – a criminological investigation of what he calls “the world’s most successful outlaw, Donald J. Trump.” 

The title of the book – Criminology on Trump (Routledge, 2022).

“Over the course of five decades, Donald Trump has been accused of sexual assault, tax evasion, money laundering, non-payment of employees, and the defrauding of tenants, customers, contractors, investors, bankers, and charities,” Barak says. “Yet, he has continued to amass wealth and power.”

While primarily focused on Trump’s developing character over three quarters of a century, it is also an inquiry into the changing cultural character and social structure of American society. 

It explores the ways in which both crime and crime control are socially constructed in relation to a changing political economy.

You see Donald Trump as an existential threat to the country and portray him as a lawless politician who has evaded justice and should be criminally prosecuted and thrown in jail. Is that accurate?

“That’s essentially correct,” Barak told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last month. “I have observed Donald Trump for all of these years. Journalists were writing articles about his legal problems, but none of them were coming from a criminological perspective. I went at this wanting to produce a criminal biography. I wanted to show how and why Donald became Donald. He has been engaged in this kind of lawless behavior literally his whole life.” 

Could you have written a similar book titled Criminology on Hillary Clinton?

“I could have written a book on powerful people. It’s a question of magnitude and scale and diversity of lawlessness. Donald has violated laws across the board.”

“He’s built an ongoing system of rackets.” 

“We are really talking about not the same thing except for the fact that powerful people often violate laws and don’t suffer the consequences for it.”

The reason I ask the question is because we ran a story last week reporting that a non profit called Public Justice is giving its Champion of Justice Award to Hillary Clinton. 

This did not sit well with people who have studied her public record, especially her record as a war hawk on foreign policy.

Some like yourself see Trump as an existential threat. 

And there are others, like those who criticize Hillary, who see a corrupt political system that continually spits out bad and worse. 

If it’s not going to be Trump, it might be someone worse.

“Take Trump compared to Richard Nixon. Trump is in a whole different league. Nixon cheated on an election. He didn’t try and overturn a democracy. And no, I wouldn’t give an award to Hillary.”

Will Donald Trump be indicted?

“If you are following the first five hearings by the select committee, you have to conclude that he will indeed be indicted. I suspect that the Department of Justice will indict many people involved in the January 6th uprising. Donald will probably be among that group unless he’s already tried in Georgia.” 

“If an indictment comes out of Georgia, it could come by the end of this year or early next year. I don’t think the Department of Justice will act against Donald before early 2024.”

There are four possible venues – state of New York, Manhattan DA, state of Georgia and the Department of Justice.

“It looks as if t the Manhattan DA is not going to prosecute anyone other than the CFO, who they have already indicted. It’s a tax case.”

“The state of New York is looking at inflating and deflating values of property. That seems the principal focus. It’s principally a civil case, but it could become a criminal case. It looks as though next month Donald and Ivanka and Donald Jr. will have to give depositions in the New York case. It took a year and a half for them to get to those depositions. It seems that Donald is very good at not leaving trails – electronic, paper or otherwise. And that’s part of his ability to elude justice.”

“Neither one of those cases carries the weight of the Georgia case, which is about stealing the election. The corporate shenanigans of Trump are difficult to nail down. The Georgia case will be easier to make.”

What about the Department of Justice investigation?

“There are a number of possibilities. Stealing an election, interfering with an election. It seems like they are working from the ground up with the people who participated on January 6th. But they are not limiting the investigation to January 6. They are building it out and distinguishing between people who walked in for a protest and those who walked in ready to assault people in the building. They linked those people to campaign people to members of Congress. They seem to be building their case from the ground up. You have testimony showing Donald in the room for hours talking with the different players.” 

“For those who know Donald, he’s all over everything that he does. He’s never oblivious to anything. He was working 24/7 in the areas of the country where it mattered in terms of those four or five states that he lost.” 

“Donald never believed for a second that the election was stolen. He is not deceived about that. He’s fully cognizant that no one stole an election from him. That’s just part of his act.”

“What was disconcerting to me was some testimony I saw from this documentary filmmaker Alex Holder. He was embedded with Trump and the family. They are looking at his final product and his outtakes. He said in an interview with CNN that he went into this whole operation believing that Donald did not believe for a second the big lie. But the filmmaker reversed his position.”

“Michael Wolf interviewed Trump extensively for his book Landslide. He reached the conclusion that Trump is delusional. I argue that he’s not delusional for a moment. He’s a performance artist. He sticks to his story. But he never for a moment believed it.” 

In your book, you say that Trump is going to run again.

“Well, I was on a radio program last night. And I said – I do not see Donald Trump becoming the nominee in 2024. I do not think he could get the nomination of his party. He would only run to elude prosecution or if he thought by running again he could postpone the case until 2029. Knowing the transactional player that he is and that he is often several steps ahead of the people chasing him, he could be looking, as we speak, for a place for political asylum.” 

“If the candidates he’s supporting in the November 2022 elections get clobbered, then that would indicate that his support is withering away.” 

“If he could put off the prosecutions by being a candidate, he might do that. But it’s closing in on him and I believe they are going to get him.”

When was the last time a President or former President was indicted for a major felony?

“I don’t know of one, do you?”

I don’t. But one reason the Democrats are hesitating in pushing for criminal prosecution is because of the precedent it will set. If a grand jury could indict a ham sandwich, why not a Democratic President? Lula, the progressive president of Brazil, was thrown in prison for a number of years on corruption charges. He was released after an investigative journalist showed that the judge was colluding with the prosecutors. It’s not unheard of. And now he’s favored to regain the presidency.

“I know many people who have that concern. I can understand how that might escalate. But to not charge will also have consequences. If you don’t bring accountability for this act – can you think of a greater crime than the President committing sedition against the American people?”

Chris Hedges says that war is the greatest evil – that’s the title of his new book. So no, I don’t think what Trump did was the greatest crime a President commits. War is worse than treason.

“I was not talking about institutional wrongdoing. I was concentrating on individual perpetrators. War crimes are terrible. But as unlikely as it is that war criminals are ever punished for their crimes, particularly when they win, it would be more unusual for Donald to be charged. And I think it’s of greater necessity for Donald to be charged. There needs to be consequences.” 

“What’s going on in Ukraine is a lot more dangerous and harmful and threatening. But in terms of overturning a government, that’s a different story. It’s a myth that no person is above the law. But if you are going to try and pass that off as real, what could be a more glaring exception than Donald Trump? The whole world is tuning in. Everyone knows what happened. It would be a public embarrassment to the United States not to prosecute Donald Trump. If you don’t prosecute this individual, you don’t prosecute any individual for anything. Why should you prosecute anybody who was in the Capitol that day and not prosecute the person who brought them to the Capitol? That’s ridiculous.”

[For the complete q/a format Interview with Gregg Barak, see 36 Corporate Crime Reporter 28(13), July 11, 2022, print edition only.]

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