Granderson: With this guilty verdict, Trump has gone full Bond villain

Former President Donald Trump walks, followed by his lawyer Todd Blanche, center, at Manhattan criminal court during Trump's trial Thursday, May 16, 2024, in New York. (Mike Segar/Pool Photo via AP)
Former President Trump at Manhattan criminal court in May. (Mike Segar / Associated Press)

When Donald Trump’s Thursday morning started with a former producer of “The Apprentice” accusing him of using a racist slur to describe a Black contestant, the former president didn’t know that was going to be the best news of his day.

That afternoon, a jury of his peers handed down a 34-count conviction. Quite the bookends for a man who a year ago was also found liable for sexual assault and defamation by a jury. In 2022, two of his companies were convicted of fraud.

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As if all that weren’t enough reason to be concerned about the corruption a potential second Trump term could bring, there are now reports that the former president is buddying up with Elon Musk. In fact, Trump is said to be considering adding Musk as an advisor if he wins in November.

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Imagine: one of the richest men in the world joining forces with a convicted felon running for president. It’s the kind of pairing Ian Fleming would have appreciated. A duo of villains worthy of Bond.

Musk wants to put a computer chip in your brain, and Trump said he wants to be a dictator for a day. Musk prevented Ukraine from using Starlink internet services in its fight against Russia. Trump admires Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he would encourage Russia to attack NATO countries.

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Musk grew up affluent in apartheid South Africa and today speaks ill of diversity efforts in the workplace.

According to Trump’s niece Mary, racist slurs like Trump is accused of using on set were common in the Trump household. Antisemitic slurs as well, which probably explains why Trump said that white nationalists — the ones carrying torches and chanting, “Jews will not replace us” — were “very fine people.”

That was 2017, back when Trump was calling himself the “law and order” president. I’m pretty sure his supporters didn’t take that to mean that he and many of the people he brought with him to the White House — Paul Manafort, Stephen K. Bannon, Mike Flynn, Roger Stone — would be facing jail time.

But then again, if Republicans really cared about “law and order,” Trump never would have made it to the Republican debate stage back in 2015. He and his businesses had already been involved in thousands of lawsuits. In fact, when Trump initially announced his candidacy, he was concurrently dealing with a class action suit filed against Trump University. (Alleging fraud, in case you were wondering.)

Republicans like House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana, who after the verdict on Thursday said “today is a shameful day in American history,” can try to characterize the hush money trial as “the weaponization of our justice system,” but the reality is Trump has been in trouble with our legal system since Johnson was in diapers. I’m not joking. The saga began in 1973 with the Nixon administration. By now, Trump’s been involved in 4,095 lawsuits and counting.

He is not a victim being unfairly targeted by Democrats.

Trump is a con artist who keeps getting caught.

When he first ran for president, he told supporters not to worry about his lack of political experience because his business pedigree qualified him for the job. And then we found out that his companies had been cooking the books for decades and that Trump’s father repeatedly bailed him out of bad financial decisions. No shame in having help, unless you’ve been claiming to be self-made and successful.

And many believed his boasts, even though he became a millionaire at the age of 8, not through shrewd deals but because of his family’s wealth.

The guilty verdict on Thursday marked the first time a former president has been convicted of a felony. That is indeed historic.

However, Trump himself being found guilty in a court of law should not surprise anyone.

Especially not in New York, where Trump grew up, made his name, made his money and had most of his run-ins with the law.

Perhaps in 2016, because of his charisma and celebrity, it was easy to overlook just how corrupt Trump was. Now, his corruption is hard to avoid.

None of this is to suggest he can’t still win the White House. However, this time around, there is no plausible pretense of “draining the swamp” or “making America great.”

No, this time around voters know Trump is a criminal. Now we’ve got the receipts.


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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.