Violating the omerta

The mob boss thing has not gone unnoticed. Jonathan Chait’s piece on it in New York magazine for instance, subtly titled “Trump Wants to Ban Flipping Because He Is Almost Literally a Mob Boss”:

The way a roll-up of the Gambino family, or any other crime organization, would work is that the FBI would first find evidence of crimes against lower-level figures, and then threaten them with lengthy prison sentences unless they provide evidence against higher-ranking figures in the organization. The roll-up moves from bottom to top. It would be extremely difficult to prosecute any organized crime if it were not possible to trade lenient sentences in return for cooperation.

In an interview with Fox News, President Trump offers his view that flipping is dishonorable, and is so unfair it “almost ought to be outlawed.”

It’s bitterly amusing to see Trump talking about “fairness” when it’s hard to imagine anyone more indifferent to fairness in general than greedy piggy mob boss Donnie Two-scoops.

Trump has also made clear, in tweets over the weekend, that he is not only opposed to false testimony. He opposes flipping on the boss as a matter of principle. Here he is over the weekend denouncing President Nixon’s lawyer John Dean as a “rat.”

Dean famously testified about Nixon’s obstruction of justice. Nobody claims Dean lied about Nixon. The sin in Trump’s eyes is that he flipped, violating the omerta. Trump even uses Mafia lingo, “rat,” to describe Dean’s cooperation with law enforcement. To gangsters, a rat is considered the worst kind of person because they pose the greatest danger to their ability to escape prosecution.

It is obviously quite rare to hear a high-ranking elected official openly embrace the terminology and moral logic of La Cosa Nostra. But Trump is not just a guy who has seen a lot of mob movies. He has worked closely with Mafia figures throughout his business career.

That’s the president of the US he’s talking about.

Like a mobster, Trump takes an extremely cynical view of almost every moral principle in public life, assuming that everybody in politics is corrupt and hypocritical. (Hence his defense of Vladimir Putin’s murdering journalists: “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”) He also follows mafia practice of surrounding himself with associates chosen on the basis of loyalty rather than traditional qualifications. Since the greatest threat to a mafia don’s business is that subordinates will betray him, he typically surrounds himself with family members, even if they are not the smartest or best criminals.

Ok so now I’m imagining a scenario in which Don Junior gets immunity, aka flips.

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