An ironic fact - GulfToday

An ironic fact

Michael Jansen

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Former US President Donald Trump.

It is ironic that Donald Trump, who has an alleged record of racism and misogyny, is under challenge in court by three Black women, New York Attorney General Letitia James, Washington

Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan, and Fulton County, Georgia, Attorney General Fany Willis. All three have braved death threats by Trump’s supporters while conducting criminal cases against him with the goal of proving “no one is above the law” even in the deeply dysfunctional and polarised United States.

Born in 1958 and raised in Brooklyn, Letitia James graduated from New York City University’s Lehman College in The Bronx before obtaining her law degree at the historical Black Howard University in Washington. She was a member of the Working Families Party before running as a Democratic

party candidate. While attorney general since 2019, she has mounted high profile lawsuits against the powerful National Rifle Association, nursing homes for mishandling Covid care, ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo for sexual harassment and Trump enterprises.

In 2022 James charged Trump, his three eldest children, and the Trump organisation of “falsely and fraudulently” misrepresenting multiple assets “to financial institutions for economic benefit.” On one hand, Trump assets were inflated to secure more than $300 million in loans; on the other hand, Trump holdings were understated to avoid paying between $85 and $150 million in interest on loans from Deutsche Bank. This behaviour was part of a pattern. The suit seeks $250 million in damages, a five-year ban on Trump organisation real-estate transactions in the state, and a permanent prohibition against Trump and his three oldest children from doing business in New York.

In June this year, James announced she had received multiple threats. “I have more law enforcement around me these days, individuals have threatened my life, but I will not be paralysed by fear by no means. I’m from Brooklyn.” She warned that US society is more polarized than ever since the Civil War.

A naturalised US citizen, Tanya Chutkan was born in 1962, in Kingston, Jamaica. Her father is a doctor of an Indo-Jamaican heritage, and her mother is an Afro-Jamaican dancer who became a leading pperformer in that country’s National Dance Theatre Company.

Tanya Chutkan earned her BA from George Washington University and attended the University of Pennsylvania law school. After a remarkable career in law President Barack Obama appointed her a federal judge in 2014.

She has repeatedly crossed Trump. In November 2021, she dismissed his plea to deny White House records from being made available to the House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6th, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The District of Columbia Circuit upheld that decision, and the US Supreme Court declined to review it although the court has been packed by Trump with conservative judges.

Chutkan has conducted trials of more than 30 defendants accused of mounting the Capitol assault. The Washington Post reported she has been the toughest judge overseeing such cases. She has ordered custodial time in all the offenders she tried, and occasionally exceeded terms recommended by prosecutors.

She was quoted in a February 2022 profile posted by the federal judiciary as saying, “For a lot of people, I seem to check a lot of boxes: immigrant, woman, Black, Asian. Your quali-fications are always going to be subject to criticism and you have to develop a thick skin.”

She has explained, “It has to be made clear that trying to violently overthrow the government, trying to stop the peaceful transition of power and assaulting law enforcement officers in that effort, is going to be met with absolutely certain punishment.”

Commenting on Trump’s involvement on the raid to prevent Congressional confirmation of Joe Biden as president, she said at a sentencing hearing that the defendant “did not go to the United States Capitol out of any love for our country. He went for one man.”

At another sentencing, she stated, “The country is watching to see what the consequences are for something that has not ever happened in the country before.”

Last month, after his arraignment on election conspiracy charges, Trump posted on his media platform, Truth Social, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU.” Chutkan responded by warning all sides not to issue “inflammatory statements.” The next day a Texas woman was arrested for threatening Judge Chutkan.

Born in Inglewood, California in 1971, Fany Willis was raised by her father, a criminal defence lawyer who belonged to the Black Panthers, the Marxist-Leninist Black political movement which rose in the mid-1960s to challenge the US police and protect Black civilians. The aim of the party was to convince US society to accept the presence of people of colour.

Willis graduated from Howard University in 1993 and earned her law degree from Emory University in Georgia in 1996. In 2001, she joined Fulton County’s district attorney’s office where she served with distinction and in 2020 she was elected to the top job. Early in 2021 she began her investigation of Trump’s infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of Brad Raffensperger to demand that he “find” enough votes to overturn the state’s presidential election and threatened him if he failed to comply.

After being charged by Willis, Trump accused her of being a radical left prosecutor in a corrupt county and insisted that he had conducted a “’PERFECT’ phone call to the Secretary of State.”

She told The New York Times a year ago, “I do not have the right to look the other way on a crime that could have impacted a majority of people in this community and throughout the nation.”

Last month, her 98-page indictment claimed Trump “unlawfully conspired” to change the election outcome in his favour and participated in a “criminal enterprise.” She ordered Trump and 18 co-conspirators to surrender before August 25th - which they did. For the first time in his court appearances, a mug shot was taken of a scowling Trump. He has used it as a campaign prop. Willis has received threats, some using racist and sexist language, which she has reported to the Fulton County commissioners. Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp has rejected calls by far-right state lawmakers to impeach Willis or defund her prosecution of Trump and his co-conspirators. He also pointed out that he had refused to reject the results of the 2020 election as this would be “unconstitutional.”

He added, “In Georgia, we will not be engaging in political theatre that only inflames the emotions of the moment. We will do what is right. We will uphold our oath to public service. And

it is my belief that our state will be better off for it.”

Photo: TNS

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