Indictments are coming: At long last, criminal justice will catch up with Donald Trump

Putting a former president on trial for alleged criminal behavior would be the first prosecution of its kind in American history. It would also do much toward restoring the myth that no person or corporation is above the law. As James Doyle has explained, putting Trump on trial "redeems American justice."

Looking both backward and forward, I would argue that putting the former racketeer in chief and his accomplices on trial for seditious conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government — arguably the ultimate constitutional crime — is more tangible than the abstract goal of redeeming American justice. In this insurrectionary moment, "substantive" due process justice trumps "procedural" due process justice.

After the first five public hearings held by the House select committee investigating the organized and coordinated activities of Donald J. Trump and his allies to steal the 2020 presidential election, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, it seemed apparent that Attorney General Merrick Garland would not prosecute Trump for two likely federal crimes: "obstructing an official proceeding" and engaging in a "conspiracy to defraud the United States."

But the sixth hearing, and the dramatic testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — the proverbial "fly on the wall" — was truly a game-changer. Knowing that Trump welcomed the armed weapons and the assault on the Capitol was certainly no surprise to most people who have been paying attention.

Knowing Trump as a criminal biographer, I was not surprised to learn that he may have physically assaulted another person under circumstances similar to those on the occasion when he struck his first-grade teacher in the head before a whole classroom of his peers.

It was a surprise to me initially that Trump wanted to be present at the Capitol during the assault. For both legal and safety reasons, that would have been highly inadvisable. Jumping into Trump's fantasy world, however, where he believed that he was not at physical risk, I could also imagine Trump envisioning himself riding up the stairs and into the Capitol on a white stallion, ahead of his troops.

Recall that Trump had successfully defended himself from "incitement of insurrection" during his second impeachment trial, contending that his Ellipse speech was protected by the First Amendment and that he had no knowledge about the crowd's makeup, its intentions or its possible weaponry.

Trump's defense was plausible, at least at that point, because after only four weeks of investigation the House impeachment managers' case against him was based on circumstantial rather than direct evidence. All of that changed with the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson.

That's why the testimony of Pat Cipollone, Trump's former White House counsel, who was quoted by Hutchinson as saying, "We're going to get charges of every crime imaginable," including seditious conspiracy as well as jury tampering, has now been subpoenaed by the select committee.

I do not imagine that any federal prosecution of Trump will occur before the end of 2023. In the meantime, however, it is likely that the former president will be prosecuted before the end of 2022 for the felony of asking Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn the outcome in that state by "finding" 11,780 fake votes, one more than Trump lost the state by to Joe Biden.

In the Georgia case, Trump could be charged with violating as many as four statutes. These include seeking to have ballots counted that Trump knew were "materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws" of the State of Georgia; conspiring with Meadows and two other lawyers "to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person…"; "soliciting another person" to willfully tamper "with any electors list, voter's certificate…"; and engaging in "criminal solicitation to commit election fraud."

Following a lifetime of crime, corruption and impunity, it now appears that the criminal law is at last catching up with the man who has operated a criminal enterprise within the Trump Organization since the early 1980s.

Over more than four decades, a non-exhaustive listing of the former president's alleged crimes would include sexual assault; tax evasion; money laundering; the non-payment of employees, contractors and attorneys; financial fraud; racketeering; and obstruction of justice.

Trump is a veritable Houdini of white-collar crime, a master of lawlessness and impunity. Not only has he never been convicted of any crime, he has never even been charged with a felony..

As a litigator, Trump is in a league of his own. Since 1973 he has been involved in more than 4,000 lawsuits, and in some 60 percent of those as the suing plaintiff.

Until now, his litigation has almost always been about attracting attention and wearing down opponents. As the late, great litigator James D. Zirin, author of "Plaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3,500 Lawsuits," wrote of Trump: "What was important was to use the lawsuit to attract attention, to exert economic pressure, and to prove he was the kid on the block not to be messed with."

The impending criminal charges to be filed against Donald Trump by the district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia, and the U.S. Department of Justice are both very different from the thousands of previous lawsuits in Trump's career. Those civil cases, both past and present, have always been about money. The soon-to-be criminal cases will be about Trump's personal freedom — and whether he will be wearing an orange jumpsuit for the next several years.

Corporate crime expert explains why Donald Trump is suing Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump filed a lawsuit on March 24 in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida charging Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and various other people with attempting to rig the 2016 election by tying his campaign to Russian meddling.

Among multiple grandiose claims, the suit alleges both "racketeering" and "conspiracy" to commit injurious untruths: "Acting in concert, the Defendants maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that their Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty." Trump seeks both compensatory and punitive damages, and claims he incurred expenses of at least $24 million "in the form of defense costs, legal fees, and related expenses."

This comes straight out of the Trump playbook of suing and countersuing, and references a long list of grievances that Trump has been repeatedly airing since he was elected in 2016, not to mention his continued false claims that his 2020 defeat was the product of widespread fraud and conspiracy.

Ordinary people who get caught up in lengthy legal battles, on whatever side of the conflict, generally find the experience to be costly to their pocketbooks, reputations and mental wellness. As someone who has been involved in more than 4,000 legal battles since 1973, Trump is clearly an exception to the rule.

He loves litigation as much as his cans of Diet Coke or boxes of fast food burgers or 36 holes of golf twice weekly. As a real estate tycoon, entrepreneur, entertainer and politician, Trump boasts: "I've taken advantage of the laws. And frankly, so has everybody else in my position."

Trump's modus operandi, whether in politics or litigation, has always been about "the pot calling the kettle black" — or perhaps, in psychological terms, about projection. Here we have a situation where the actual racketeer and conspirator who has escaped two impeachments, the latter for having unsuccessfully conspired to steal the 2020 election, is predictably alleging racketeering, conspiracy and victimization by his opponents.

For Trump, litigation as a weapon has always been about attracting attention, exercising economic pressure, wearing down opponents and letting everyone know not to mess with the Donald. It's rarely about the facts or the law.

As litigator in chief, Donald Trump has been in a league of his own. In some 60 percent of 3,500 lawsuits, Trump has been the suing plaintiff rather than the sued defendant. His win-loss record is undeniably impressive: He has won 451 times and lost only 38.

As a defendant, Trump has persuaded judges to dismiss some 500 plaintiffs' cases against him. Hundreds of other cases have ended with unclear legal resolutions, according to available public records.

Trump has sued and been sued by personal assistants, celebrities, mental patients, prisoners, unions, rival businesspeople and his own family members.

Since the 1970s, he has been sued for race and sex discrimination, sexual harassment, fraud, breaches of trust, money laundering, defamation, stiffing creditors and defaulting on loans.

In turn, plaintiff Trump has sued people for fraud, breach of trust, breach of contract, violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, for government favoritism, and for misappropriation or adulteration of the Trump name.

Once again, it seems that Trump's weaponization of the law is paying off. It now appears almost certain that neither the district attorney in Manhattan nor the U.S. attorney general will ever criminally charge Trump for his crimes of racketeering or insurrection.

Roy Cohn, who was the first of Trump's personal attorneys and "fixers" to be disbarred or suspended for lawless conduct — followed by Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani — taught Trump the art of the linguistic lie as a way of moving through life, business, politics and the law.

Trump's primer on the law included Cohn's three rules of litigation: Never settle, never surrender; counterattack immediately; no matter the outcome, always claim victory. Over the course of his litigious life, Trump was better at adhering to the latter two rules than the first, because the social reality of legal facts often dictates settling.

Cohn also taught Trump other related lessons, including but not limited to focusing on short-term victories, employing any unscrupulous means necessary to achieve them, doing end-runs around the judicial system, fixing disputed outcomes and the value of always defending yourself by going on the offensive.

As Cohn's apprentice, Trump would eventually take the art of the lie to an even higher (or lower) level than Cohn himself or Trump's father, Fred Trump Sr., who was also a serial fabricator of the truth, could possibly have imagined.

Gregg Barak is an emeritus professor of criminology and criminal justice at Eastern Michigan University, co-founder and North American editor of the Journal of White Collar and Corporate Crime, and author of the forthcoming book "Criminology on Trump."