Witcover: N.Y. Gov. Cuomo to native Trump: ‘Good riddance’

Home again
(Bill Bramhall)

President Trump's decision to leave his native New York to reside in Florida has all the marks of fleeing not only the state's taxes but also the pursuit of his income tax returns by prosecutors.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in effect handed Mr. Trump his hat on the way out the door with a curt “Good riddance,” as an unwelcome Manhattanite whose huge real estate empire has been a costly embarrassment to the Empire State.


Last week, the multimillionaire president took to Twitter to confirm that would declare the Mar-a-Lago luxury resort in Palm Beach, Fla., his official domicile. He gushed, “I cherish New York, and the people of New York, and always will, but unfortunately, despite the fact that I pay millions of dollars in city, state and local taxes each year, I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state.”

Mr. Trump went on: “Few have been treated worse. I hated making the decision, but in the end it will best for all concerned. As President I will always be there to help New York and the good people of New York will always have a special place in my heart!”


To which Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat and consistent critic, replied: “It’s not like (Trump) paid taxes here anyway. He’s all yours, Florida.”

If the old adage has it that “home is where your heart is,” Mr. Trump’s own spin is that it’s where your money is safest from tax laws — and from the prying eyes of government officials like the Manhattan district attorney for the Southern District of New York, who has his sights on Mr. Trump’s tax returns.

According to ABC News, the U.S. Court of Appeals’ Second Circuit “declined to issue a preliminary injunction that would have allowed President Donald Trump to keep his tax returns shielded from a subpoena” in an investigation of hush payments that were made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, women with whom Mr. Trump is alleged to have had affairs. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have vowed to take their appeal to the Supreme Court.

Donald Trump's political success has never relied on his identity as a New Yorker nor of any other locality or state. No state primary or group of them, or any regional issue, ever elevated him to national prominence.

Rather, it was his introduction via television and then supportive social media that skyrocketed him as public celebrity figure. He was out there on display as a brazen, crude everyman who could elbow himself into the curiosity and then awareness of the mass American audience unrelated to politics.

He emerged as a larger-than-life bull in a china shop, breaking all the traditional rules of self-promotion as a latter-day P.T. Barnum, fashioned after Andy Griffith's eerily similar movie portrayal of Lonesome Rhodes in "A Face in the Crowd."

Like Rhodes, Mr. Trump used a mass media platform to showcase his own dominating personality, and then segued into political service -- or in Mr. Trump’s case, disservice -- which he used for his own narrow purpose as an ego-dominated narcissist.

From the moment he came down that Trump Tower escalator behind his statuesque third bride to announce his candidacy, he had much of America eating out of his hand. He deftly sold his outsized self-confidence and abandonment of any obligation to truth-telling to peddle himself as the right stuff to uncommonly gullible consumers.

Now comes the critical challenge of sustaining the political and personal hypnosis he has performed over a large but not yet majority portion of the American electorate. Congress now is addressing its constitutional duty to remove him for violating his oath of office. Given the Republican majority in the Senate, that job may be left to the ballot box a year from now.

Twenty Republican senators must find reason to convict Mr. Trump if the House Democrats’ impeachment drive is to achieve its objective. That depends on how well House committees elucidate the evidence of Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors.

Republicans would also have to grow spines. Mr. Trump’s base still stands firmly behind him, and he holds the party’s congressional caucuses in fear of retribution if they cross him. Unless country-before-party Republicans in the mold of the late John McCain suddenly appear, the GOP and America are in for another year of turmoil.

Jules Witcover is a syndicated columnist and former long-time writer for The Baltimore Sun. His latest book is “The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power” (Smithsonian Books). His email is juleswitcover@comcast.net.

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