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Plaintiff in Chief

A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3,500 Lawsuits
Narrated by: Michael Butler Murray
Length: 9 hrs and 36 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A comprehensive analysis of Donald Trump's legal history reveals his temperament, methods, character, and morality.

Unlike all previous presidents who held distinguished positions in government or the military prior to entering office, Donald Trump's political worldview was molded in the courtroom. He sees law not as a system of rules to be obeyed and ethical ideals to be respected, but as a weapon to be used against his adversaries or a hurdle to be sidestepped when it gets in his way. He has weaponized the justice system throughout his career, and he has continued to use these backhanded tactics as Plaintiff in Chief

In this audiobook, distinguished New York attorney James D. Zirin presents Trump's lengthy litigation history as an indication of his character and morality, and his findings are chilling: if you partner with Donald Trump, you will probably wind up litigating with him. If you enroll in his university or buy one of his apartments, chances are you will want your money back. If you are a woman and you get too close to him, you may need to watch your back. If you try to sue him, he's likely to defame you. If you make a deal with him, you had better get it in writing. If you are a lawyer, an architect, or even his dentist, you'd better get paid up front. If you venture an opinion that publicly criticizes him, you may be sued for libel. 

A window into the president's dark legal history, Plaintiff in Chief is as informative as it is disturbing.

©2019 James D. Zirin (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

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Excellent review of Trumps many crimes and abuses.

Many details all the various ways in which Trump has abused the legal system. Eye-opening!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Philo
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 09-27-19

One angle on Trump, in a richly detailed story

The quick review: here you see, in real stories, the tactics, the character traits, and the moves we are now seeing in the news as Trump faces his greatest challenge to date. He has ducked and dodged his way through an astounding number of close calls with this, and the endless proclamations of his ultimate downfall have, astoundingly, proven wrong, to date. But every tweet one sees now, follows the patterns laid out here. One day, I keep thinking, this will become a trap, this will be a boomerang that finally hits home. But it is hard to argue with Trump's uncanny luck and tactics, as having extricated him so far. This book is a less than perfect (see below), but pretty sharp, overall vehicle to show all this.

Nobody gives me the full 360-view of the Trump phenomenon and these times. I have to assemble this from the scattered filters of many very different sources. This includes books lauding and attacking him. And it includes things like history of the late Roman Republic, when (I think) Trump-like figures start showing up, who have private blocs of desperate supporters wiling to frontally attack other blocs inside the nation, and (allow a leader to) shake the norms and very structure of the system. Trump-like figures will emerge in times like these. People assemble around champions who vow to throw their perceived enemies under the bus. We can expect (heck, we already have) scary leftist ones too. This author is positioning himself as the voice of longer-term norms and institutions. Trump is only the most prominent guy posing to give those institutions a hard shove.

This book is a retelling of the Trump story from specifically a legal and lawyer perspective. The author is a deeply experienced attorney from high in the New York legal world. He has deep respect for the US legal system and its institutions. He has pretty much nothing but contempt for Trump, but even if this rankles you, I would say, this listening is worth it. This is because this book is a very pure and distinct filter from which to assess the Trump phenomenon. I do not expect a 360 degree view from this author. I do get a valuable slice of the story. Trump really is willing to re-purpose many social norms including the legal systems themselves to his character and aims, without a moment of concern. He has not only the wealth to go to court as easily as breathing, on the slightest pretext, and run up costs to any opponent regardless of the facts or merits of his side, but also, the sheer nerve and self-regard to do this constantly. It is (per the author) a sort of nonstop "Wrestlemania." But, again per the author, at least for most of us, "in a democracy, facts matter." This is a very smart and lawyerly statement. (This doesn't stop him from drenching this thing in little bits of innuendo, opinion and speculation, always skewed the same way. But that, for me, is the price of getting some facts.) Per the author again, with Trump, rarely do facts come free from fantasy. Sheer nerve and loudness and grabbing pieces of the legal machinery matter. Any structure or person can be sacrificed when the stakes are perceived by Donald to warrant it. Now, I observe, Trump has done the ultimate grab, the Department of Justice itself, the executive control of the US government. Is that brilliant, or what? It is a lot of things.

We don't yet have a raft of "Watergate books" in the wake of Trump, as I expect we will get in some form, depending how the story turns, but this book lays some groundwork in that direction. The detail is rich and the writing quite good. Much of the story is familiar if you have read the bigger bios, but this version is useful. NEWSFLASH 10-25-19: now the DOJ is doing a criminal probe of its own prior Russia investigation. This is the basic "Roy Cohn maneuver" scaled up to its ultimate expression (so far -- nothing surprises me here in Bizzaro World anymore. I can imagine worse to come, but dare not). Roy must be smirking in his grave, as the world becomes ever more cast in his image!

5 of 7 people found this review helpful