Why did five professionals with a combined decade and a half of experience on the commission, attorneys, former state lawmakers, ex-judges and judges-to-be, a World War II veteran, a co-author of the Casino Control Act this entity was created to enforce, discount the mountains of evidence before them and vote above all to let Trump go on?
Two of them are dead. Two of them didn’t return messages. But I did talk to the top regulator. “We had the ability, which we utilized, to inject ourselves into the situation and control what we needed to control … and because we had the ability to do that, and because we chose to do that, we were able to avoid having to do what arguably we could have done, which was to pull the plug,” Perskie told me this week.
“It wasn’t about saving Trump,” he added. “It was about preserving the public interest.”
I spoke also to nearly a dozen Trump watchers and employees from the era. What they saw in the vote of the casino regulators was a version of the decision made also by Trump’s lenders from a cluster of banks, who cut him slack and lengthened his leash not in spite of but in many ways because of his massive debts.