I wrote this back in November, 2019 and thought, given recent event’s, it was worth reposting.
For years I have been interested in the Mafia. It’s why the Godfather (one and two, not three) and Goodfellas are three of my favorite movies. I think my real fascination with the Mafia and why I watch those movies and read books about the La Cosa Nostra has less to do with the violence and more to do with the historical and political context of the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’. I am a history buff and the twists and turns that play out in these stories are always set against a backdrop of what was happening in America at that particular time.
But this fascination or interest has also provided me with a little knowledge about the Mafia. It might come in handy during a trivia board game or for an episode of Jeopardy but otherwise it is pretty useless information. Until Trump was elected president.
Mafia families are structured organizations that follow a strict hierarchical structure.
1. The Boss is the head of the family, usually reigning as a dictator.
2. The Underboss, usually appointed by the boss, is the second in command of the family.
3. The Consigliere is an advisor to the family and sometimes seen as the boss’s “right-hand man”.
4. A Caporegime (also captain or skipper) is in charge of a crew, a group of soldiers who report directly to him.
5. A Soldier is a member of the family.
6. An Associate is not a member of the Mafia, but works for a crime family nonetheless.
All of these layers are in place for one reason and one reason only, to protect the Boss. The Boss never gets his hands dirty. Nothing can ever get pinned on him. He directs all of the family’s activities and business through the Underboss or the Consigliere who make all of the “necessary” arrangements. The Boss might talk to two or maybe three people about the plan which naturally creates a layer of protection around him. No phone calls, no emails, nothing in writing. The only way for the Boss to be implicated is if someone talks or “rats him out”.
“Remember, Michael Cohen only became a “Rat” after the FBI did something which was absolutely unthinkable & unheard of until the Witch Hunt was illegally started. They BROKE INTO AN ATTORNEY’S OFFICE! Why didn’t they break into the DNC to get the Server, or Crooked’s office?” – Trump tweet 12-16-18
As you can imagine the most expendable individual in this structure is an Associate, typically someone attempting to prove their worth as a prospective member of the family and the pecking order of importance moves-up from there. But always, the last man standing, the man everyone protects is the Boss. Why? An oath of loyalty.
Former FBI Director James Comey recounts in his books during a private White House dinner with Trump, just a week after the president was inaugurated, that Trump told him: “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.” Comey told him he would “always get honesty from me” but Trump wanted more, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty”.
Omertà is the Southern Italian term for silence. A word, to the Mafia, that places a code of honor on silence in the face of questioning by authorities or outsiders. What we have learned during these impeachment hearings is that Trump’s Underboss (Mike Pence), Consigliere (Bill Barr), Caporegimes (Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, and Mike Pompeo) and Soldier (Rudy Giuliani) are willing to honor this code of silence at all cost, not only to themselves but also to the democracy of this country to protect their Boss.
Trump’s ties to the Mafia are well known. Certainly his affinity for authoritarian, strong-men is well documented as well. And in Vladimir Putin, Trump has the best of both worlds, a ruthless, murderous, dictatorial strong-men with significant and notable links to the Russian Mob, links that we learn probably sooner than later ensnare Trump, his business and other members of his family.
I sense the frustration people have with Trump despite the mountains of evidence against him. We wonder what it will take to convict him for all the crimes we know he has committed from assaulting, at last count, 30 women, paying off other women with campaign money, colluding with Russia, and the current crime of withholding aid to Ukraine. Trust me, all of this shit will catch-up to Trump, it finally caught-up with John Gotti, “The Teflon Don” who, after many years of literally getting away with murder rotted away and died in a prison cell.
Over the next few years we will learn much more about Trump’s short time in office and the crimes he and his corrupt crime family have committed. The stories will fill book after book and though Trump may never rot in prison I suspect his punishment will be much worse, he will live the rest of his hopefully broke life as the most hated and despised man to ever occupy the office of President of the United States.
“It’s important to remember that Trump learned his ABCs for success from Roy Cohn, who was mixed up in the Mafia, defended them, and mentored Trump exactly how to succeed in life. “Always be aggressive, take no prisoners …”
Trump resembles John Gotti. Most mob bosses were quiet, stayed in the shadows, didn’t want any kind of publicity or exposure. All Gotti wanted was the spotlight, all the time. That bolstered his ego, made him feel important.
There’s another example of their similar personalities. Gotti, at the slightest slight, if anybody had offended him or spoken one bad word, they were finished, terminated. No prisoners …Trump doesn’t kill anybody! But what he does is he casts you out of his environment.” – Selwyn Raab, a former investigative reporter for the New York Times who covered organized crime
The Trump crime syndicate survived for decades because his organizational circle was very small and though every decision made required his prior approval you would be hard pressed to find his signature on any documents. Trump doesn’t text or use email, he famously uses Post-It notes to communicate with others. So like Don Vito Corleone, it is difficult to create a paper trail that leads to him. And we all know Trump will happily sacrifice a minion, like Michael Cohen, in order to save his own sorry ass and he is still willing to do that today.
But all that change when he entered the White House which has hundreds of individuals, maybe thousands whose only job is to save every document, scrap of paper, sticky note, generated during his failed regime. The other thing that changed is his organizational circle which expanded from about 22 people at Trump Org. to several hundred which he increased daily by firing and replacing on a regular basis over four years. These people, unlike his children and long time employees, don’t view Trump as their “meal ticket” so loyalty to The Donald over everything else including country isn’t a factor or option for them.
We continue to see the exception in that last statement in people like Lindsey Graham, Jim Jordan, Ted Cruz, and Mark Meadows who, for whatever reason, are willing to sell their souls to the devil. But there are reports that the January 6th Select Committee has interviewed upwards of 400 to 500 people many with first hand knowledge of the planning, financing, and execution of the insurrection. Trump may not know their names but they were there in the thick of it.
And here is the fun part, despite Don Corleone Frump’s efforts to insulate himself from the events of January 6th and his attempt to overturn the election people are talking, documents are being shared and it is just a matter of time before folks like Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuliani can’t afford, literally, to stay silent any longer.
I know many of us are disappointed that Ronald J. Frump isn’t broke or in prison yet. But I firmly believe that history will repeat itself. Crime family bosses never spend their golden years living a life of luxury at the beach.