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Local laws and code enforcement are just as important as the Mueller's Russia report

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With the Mueller report floating out in the ethers much of the nation is wringing their hands over the seeming inability of the legal system to hold Donald Trump accountable for what millions of Americans suspect are high crimes and misdemeanors.

This is a good inflection point to reflect on just where did the self-promoter-in-chief come from. What is the nature of the social ecology of the place that spawned him, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and much of the rest of their posse? Despite losing the popular vote, they are now riding roughshod over the “free world” as they inspire the retro-rise of a fresh crop of authoritarian leaders around the world.

New York City’s self-image is as a 24-7 cosmopolitan center of culture, commerce and free expression. But in reality, it is very much a systemically corrupt company town. It’s not unlike a coal mine town in Appalachia or a banana republic where a multinational is stripping the land of a natural resource while paying the government to oppress the people that have the misfortune to live there.

Historically, it has usually been only a federal prosecutor who is up to the task of holding a larger than life New York City real estate baron like Trump to account for breaking the law. In 1973 it took the Department of Justice to stand up to Trump’s father Fred, who along with his son Donald, were listed as defendants in a federal racial discrimination housing complaint over allegations that for years they turned away African-Americans looking to rent one of their apartments.

“Rather than quietly trying to settle — as another New York developer had done a couple of years earlier — he [Trump] turned the lawsuit into a protracted battle, complete with angry denials, character assassination, charges that the government was trying to force him to rent to ‘welfare recipients’ and a $100 million countersuit accusing the Justice Department of defamation,” reported the Times. “When it was over, Mr. Trump declared victory, emphasizing that the consent decree he ultimately signed did not include an admission of guilt.”

But in an investigation in 2016 the Times used “decades-old files from the New York City Commission on Human Rights, internal Justice Department records, court documents and interviews with tenants, civil rights activists and prosecutors” that “uncovered a long history of racial bias at his family’s properties, in New York and beyond.”

New York City’s real estate industry rewards the kind of bullying swagger that Michael Cohen, Trump’s enforcer and fixer, described when he testified before the House Oversight Committee. That sense of confidence that the rules don’t apply to you are reenforced by a local legal/regulatory system for the real estate industry that in reality........

© Salon