Cliff Owen, AP
In this March 24, 2019, photo, Special counsel Robert Mueller departs St. John's Episcopal Church, across from the White House in Washington. Democrats say they want “all of the underlying evidence” in Mueller’s investigation. But what is all of that evidence?

The long-awaited report from the United States Special Counsel’s office headed by Robert Mueller provides a devastating critique of much of contemporary news coverage, at least by implication. Mainstream media generally ignore this point of view, understandably.

After all, for over two years we have had media outcry against President Donald Trump for alleged collusion with Russia. Mueller clears him though reportedly left open possible obstruction of justice.

However, if no crime has been committed then a case against Trump for obstruction would seem to be extremely difficult to pursue or prove. Prosecutors have secured indictments and convictions of some people, but the crimes occurred before association with Trump (Paul Manafort) or fail to indicate Russia collusion (Michael Cohen).

Lost in the loud and seemingly endless media accusation, speculation, ventilation and blame casting is the undeniable fact that Trump has so far survived. How has this happened?

The answer is that he is by ability, instinct and outlook a remarkable survivor. Numerous competitors, rivals and enemies, some of them armed, regularly have underestimated him.

Serious crime reporter Ovid Demaris provides valuable insight in his important neglected book “The Boardwalk Jungle.” The volume is an in-depth history and analysis of criminal enterprises in New Jersey, especially over the past half century, including Trump’s involvement.

In 1974, voters in New Jersey rejected legalizing gambling, but in 1976, they collectively changed their minds, or at least a sufficient number did. In a new referendum, voters approved legalizing gambling but only in licensed casinos in Atlantic City.

Atlantic City has a long, extremely colorful and disturbing history as a lucrative center of illegal activity by organized crime. During Prohibition, the city became an enormous offloading port for illegal liquor. State and local authorities simply did not enforce the law, turned a collective blind eye to massive criminal activity and profited accordingly.

Political boss Enoch “Nucky” Johnson was chief executive of an efficiently run, and at times brutally violent, organization that implemented, regulated and profited from this activity. The successful television series “Boardwalk Empire” (not to be confused with Mr. Demaris’ book) dramatizes this fascinating and important history.

The end of Prohibition heralded the long-term decline of traditional organized crime in the United States, but Atlantic City remained a bastion of corruption. The principal Philadelphia mafia family, headed for many years by Angelo Bruno, oversaw a relatively stable environment.

Introduction of legalized gambling in Atlantic City led the much more violent organized crime families in New York to take large, active investment positions. Suddenly and effectively, a shotgun blast removed Bruno when he thought he was in safe territory. Atlantic City became completely open for the aggressive new investors.

However, the bygone world of Nucky Johnson was not going to return, and legalized gambling also opened the door to aggressive, often imaginative criminal prosecution. The Banking Secrecy Act of 1970 provided important new enforcement opportunities by requiring banks by law to cooperate with investigations of potential money laundering.

12 comments on this story

The FBI ABSCAM sting operation resulted in conviction of seven members of the U.S. Congress, including one Senator, and others. Numerous public officials, gamblers and entrepreneurs have fallen afoul of the law plus extremely aggressive enforcement of regulations.

In 1984, an Atlantic City hotel casino named for Trump opened. In 2014, the failing enterprise closed. Investor Carl Icahn bought the deed, shielding Trump.

Trump, unlike many others, provided no incriminating audio or video evidence, faced no criminal prosecution.