To Understand Trump Verdict, Look at Shukhratjon Mirsaidov’s Fraud Case

Former President Donald Trump attends UFC 302 at Prudential Center on June 01, 2024 in Newark, New Jersey.
Former President Donald Trump attends mixed martial arts event UFC 302 at Prudential Center on June 1, 2024, in Newark, N.J.
Photo: Luke Hales/Getty Images

The legal system cracked down on a New York fraudster last Thursday. Guilty of engaging in a complex scheme to move and hide money for his personal benefit, a former top executive must now face sentencing and the possibility of spending time in prison.

But last Thursday’s court hearing for Shukhratjon Mirsaidov, during which he pleaded guilty to money laundering, was overshadowed by a different white-collar criminal case in another New York courthouse on the same day. Just as Mirsaidov, a former business executive, was pleading guilty in federal court in Manhattan to a complex, fraudulent scheme to launder money, Donald Trump, a former president, was also convicted in a complex fraudulent scheme to falsify business records — in his case hiding a hush-money payment to a porn star that risked derailing his presidential campaign. 

The Trump and Mirsaidov cases aren’t exactly alike, and the stakes involved are obviously very different. But the similarities between them prove that the case brought against Trump was not out of line with the routine white-collar prosecutions that make up the daily work of the justice system. Vengeful attacks by Trump and his supporters claiming that ex-president is the victim of a political persecution don’t stand up to scrutiny when it becomes clear that the Trump case was not so different from the run-of-the-mill case that ensnared Mirsaidov on the same day.

Federal prosecutors accused Mirsaidov of laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars he obtained through health care fraud through a bank account at the company where he worked. Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, the office that prosecuted Mirsaidov, said the case was more significant because Mirsaidov took advantage of his senior position to gain access to company accounts to launder funds. “While all forms of money laundering are pernicious, such conduct is particularly severe when it involves executives at major businesses abusing their positions,” Williams said. “This case demonstrates that money launderers — no matter what their station — will be held accountable.” 

Williams could just as easily have been talking about Trump. The difference was that Mirsaidov was simply trying to enrich himself, while Trump was trying to win an election through a fraudulent cover-up. 

Trump was treated like other white-collar criminals in New York, but the guilty verdict in that case stands in stark contrast to the kid-glove treatment he has received in the three other pending cases in which he has been criminally charged. The New York case was the only one that couldn’t be delayed or quashed by Republican-appointed judges or right-wing legal and political systems, and so is the only one that has yet gone to trial. All three other cases remain in legal limbo because Trump is receiving privileged treatment, giving the lie to the notion that everyone is equal before the law in the United States. 

In each jurisdiction in which he has been charged besides New York’s state courts, the legal system has provided a champagne room for Trump — and a back alley for everyone else. 

Trump has been indicted in federal court for trying to overturn the 2020 election, engaging in what amounted to a coup d’état to illegally remain in power and stop Joe Biden from becoming president. He also faces separate federal charges in a scheme in which he illicitly kept classified documents after he left office and hid them from federal investigators when they came looking for them. In a third case, Trump faces state charges in Georgia for conspiring to overturn the 2020 election results in that state, which Biden won. 

The federal case involving his efforts to overturn the 2020 election is currently on hold because the Republican-dominated Supreme Court has taken up Trump’s ridiculous claim, dismissed by lower courts, that he is immune from prosecution because he was still president at the time he was trying to illegally overturn the election. 

In the classified documents case, a Trump-appointed federal judge has been doing his bidding by agreeing to endless delays. The judge seems to be hoping to delay the case until after the November election, hoping that Trump will win, quash the case, and then reward her with a position on a higher court or a top position in his administration.

The Georgia case has been delayed by a sideshow concerning the personal relationship between the district attorney who brought the case and an outside prosecutor she hired to handle the prosecution. Their sexual relationship became the subject of bitter hearings; a judge ruled that the district attorney could remain on the case despite the relationship, but that ruling is now on appeal, delaying the trial. 

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on whether Trump is immune in the federal election interference case before the end of its current term in July. If the court rules that Trump is not immune, that case could go to trial before the election. 

But the fact that ethically challenged Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito get to vote on whether to hold Trump accountable doesn’t bode well for the rule of law. 

So for now, the New York case, which the pundit class initially dismissed as the weakest of the four cases against Trump, is the only one to hold him accountable for what he is: a white-collar criminal, not so different from Shukhratjon Mirsaidov.


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