About a quarter of a century ago, I received a letter from the IRS – the Internal Revenue Service. Gets one’s attention.

          I called the Austin service center and an agent told me that the semester I had spent as the advisor to The Houstonian, the Sam Houston State University student newspaper, meant that I had been self-employed and subject to a self-employment tax.

          I elicited a laugh when I told her that I thought I had been “underemployed,” not self-employed. She walked me through the corrections and I sent in the delinquent money.

          That is what an accounting error looks like: a good faith misunderstanding that a quick adjustment can rectify.

          Donald Trump has been convicted of falsifying 34 business records which he filed with the State of New York. Such felonious activities do not happen by accident.

          Prosecutors laid out the boring paper trail tying the falsified records to the former president – from a Feb. 14, 2017, “Invoice from Michael Cohen, marked as a record of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust” to a Dec. 5, 2017, “Check and check stub, Donald J. Trump account, bearing check number 003006” with 32 other instances of falsified documents in between.

          National Public Radio isolated 11 invoices for legal services; 11 checks paid for legal services and 12 ledger entries for legal expenses. Pretty boring stuff.

          Media hypesters tried to glam up the proceedings by referring to them as a “hush money trial” and constant references to the hush money recipient, porn movie performer Stormy Daniels. But, hush money and Trump cheating on his wife were only relevant as the source for the manipulation of Trump’s business records. They established the timeline.

          Trump has both denied publicly and bragged privately about his relationship with Daniels – and a photo of a grinning Trump beside her establishes some relationship. But, Trump lies nearly every time he opens his mouth. Where the lie lies here is also irrelevant.

          At issue was accounting for the accounting procedures used to send Daniels $130,000 to reward her silence during the 2016 campaign. Exciting stuff like the March 17, 2017, “Entry in the Detail General Ledger for the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, bearing voucher number 846907.”

          After seven weeks of hearing such rip-roaring testimony, jurors decided that the prosecution had established Trump’s orchestrating involvement in “cooking the books,” as the film noir movies taught us.

          Being a former president had no bearing on the paper trail. Being the likely choice of Republicans for this year’s presidential election had no bearing on the paper trail. The New York state case was about feloniously falsifying business records 34 times.

          The jury decided that prosecutors had connected the dots. Thirty-four guilty verdicts.

          We should not be surprised that Trump toadies have rushed to defend him. They are of two varieties, those who fear his displeasure and those who support his campaign to destroy the republic.

          Trump lost in 2020 – by losing states where Republicans ran the voting – and the election is “rigged.” Trump loses a court case – with overwhelming documented malfeasance in evidence – and the trial is “rigged.”

          The unwavering support of a self-proclaimed would-be dictator represents a continual lowering of what little remains of Republican ethics.

          If any of us were to deliberately file erroneous business records we, too, would be subject to criminal charges.

          Despite the reprehensible attacks on the justice system by Oklahoma Republican officials, no one is above the law.

            (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

Trump caught cooking the books

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