Opinion | White House

Press: Trump's biggest fear is — lock him up

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Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Oct. 27, 2019. I was there, cheering the Nats, as they took on the Astros in Game 5 of the World Series - in what turned out to be one of the most embarrassing moments in Donald Trump's presidency. It was a magic night for Nats fans, and the celebratory crowd was jubilant until the end of the third inning when, as everyone stood to cheer military veterans, the big screen suddenly switched to a shot of Donald Trump in the stands.

The atmosphere changed dramatically. The applause stopped abruptly. A smattering of boos was heard. And then, spontaneously, with no advance warning or planning, 40,000 people started loudly chanting: "Lock him up! Lock him up!"

Donald Trump on trial? Donald Trump behind bars? That's exactly what he fears the most. And that explains, more than anything, why Trump not only refuses to concede to Joe Biden but is doing everything he can to overturn the election results. Because he knows that staying in the White House is the only way he can stay out of prison. Both at the federal and state level, Trump's in serious legal jeopardy.

We know the federal crimes that make him vulnerable to prosecution. Attempting to bribe the president of Ukraine into launching an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. Even though his Senate Republican buddies failed to convict him for it, it's still a crime. Obstructing justice by trying to undermine a Justice Department investigation. Even though feckless Robert Mueller failed to charge him with it, it's still a federal crime. Accepting money from foreign governments through his hotels and golf clubs. A violation of the Emoluments Act, even though his bootlicker attorney general lets him get away with it.

So what? As some point out, Trump would not hesitate to become the first president to grant himself a pardon. Or, if pressed, resign the presidency so that lapdog Mike Pence could pardon him. But, of course, that would only shield him from prosecution for federal crimes. A slew of state crimes also hang over his head, mainly in New York state.

Starting with sexual harassment. Since the 1970s, 26 women have accused Donald Trump of "unwanted sexual contact." Two lawsuits by women against Donald Trump are actively making their way in New York state courts: one by E. Jean Carroll, who accuses Trump of raping her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman; a second by former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos, suing Trump for defamation for accusing her of lying about his sexual abuse.

Even more serious are the investigations underway by New York Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance into what Vance's office describes as "potentially widespread and protracted criminal conduct" in the Trump Organization, including: illegal campaign payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, money laundering, and tax and bank fraud, where, according to Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen, Trump inflated his net worth when seeking loans from banks, yet deflated it when paying taxes. Most ominously, courts recently gave Vance access to Trump's tax returns.

Trump's in deep legal doodoo. So far, he's been able to skate free, thanks to a compliant Justice Department and cowardly Congress. But that protective cocoon disappears Jan. 20. Then the real question is: What will President Joe Biden do about it?

Biden says he wants to "heal the country." But, as Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) warns, failure to prosecute Trump would "embolden criminality by our national leaders." Biden must know that America will never "heal" until Donald Trump is held responsible for his crimes.

Press is host of "The Bill Press Pod." He is author of "From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire."

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