James counters Trump claim he can’t raise $464M bond as deadline looms


Former President Trump stands to gain billions in stock shares in a merger announced Friday of his social media company and a shell company. But that deal may not keep New York Attorney General Letitia James from moving to seize his assets on Monday in order to satisfy the $464 million bond stemming from the judgment in his financial fraud trial. Here are the latest legal developments involving the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for 2024.

New York financial fraud

Media merger will give Trump cash windfall, but won’t shield his assets from Monday’s bond deadline

Key players: New York Attorney General Letitia James, Judge Arthur Engoron, Trump Media & Technology Group, Digital World Acquisition Corp.

  • On Friday, Trump’s social media company completed a merger with a shell company that could give the former president a cash infusion at a time when he is struggling to pay legal bills and meet more than half a billion dollars in bond obligations, CNN reported.

  • But the deal, which is estimated to be worth more than $3 billion for Trump on paper, won’t prevent James from moving on Monday to seize his assets to try to satisfy the $464 billion bond owed as he appeals Engoron’s judgment in his financial fraud trial.

  • That’s because the deal will award Trump shares in a newly created public company and there are SEC rules about when shareholders can sell stocks following an acquisition. In this case, Trump Media shareholders have agreed not to sell stock for six months.

  • Even if Trump was able to immediately sell his majority stake to raise much-needed cash, it’s not clear whether he could find a buyer for them at the price, especially considering that Truth Social is currently losing money and users.

  • “No rational investor would take the stock at face value, especially if they had to hold it for any length of time,” Yale law professor Jonathan Macey told CNN.

  • While it is still possible that a New York appeals court could look favorably on the merger as a sign that Trump will soon be able to pay the bond while he appeals the financial fraud judgment, or that it will convince James to grant him an even longer grace period to pay it, it’s more likely that Trump will remain on the hook to meet Monday’s deadline.

  • Without a loan from a very wealthy friend, Trump can expect James to move quickly on Monday to seize his assets, USA Today reported.

  • First up, James is likely to send a subpoena to banks where Trump and his company have accounts or ask a marshal to enforce a levy on that institution.

  • It’s unlikely that James will recover close to the full bond this way, though Trump testified during his trial that he had $400 million in cash reserves, which will cause her to then go after real estate owned by the Trump Corp.

  • On Thursday, James took steps to clear the way for her to seize Trump’s golf course and private estate in Westchester County, N.Y.

  • Seizure of real estate would mean that James would then have to sell the properties in order to convert them into the cash needed to satisfy the judgment in the case, and that could take a while.

Why it matters: While the media merger made headlines Friday, and could end up giving Trump billions of dollars, Monday’s bond deadline remains in place, and that will likely mean that James will make good on her promise to go after his assets.

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Thursday, March 21

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New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office files judgments in Westchester County, N.Y., a sign that she could be preparing to seize former President Donald Trump’s assets there, including a golf course and a private estate, if he does not meet a Monday deadline to pay the $464 million bond in his financial fraud case. Prosecutors with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office tell Judge Juan Merchan that fewer than 270 of the 170,000 documents turned over to Trump’s lawyers pertain to the hush money case and urge him to stick with the April 15 start date for the trial. Bragg’s team portrays the objections from Trump’s lawyers as part of a pattern of “strategic delay.” Here are the latest legal developments involving the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for 2024.

New York financial fraud

James’s office eyes seizing Trump properties in Westchester County

Key players: New York Attorney General Letitia James, Judge Arthur Engoron

  • James’s office filed judgments against Trump in Westchester County, N.Y., on Thursday, a possible sign that the state could soon seek to seize the former president’s real estate assets there if he fails to pay the $464 million bond required to appeal the fraud case, CNN reported.

  • Under New York law, defendants must pay 110% of a judgment into an escrow account if they appeal.

  • James gave Trump a 30-day grace period to raise the $464 million bond, but that amount comes due on Monday.

  • Trump’s lawyers have told an appeals court that they have faced insurmountable difficulties raising the cash and that 30 insurers have refused to lend them the money.

  • Following Engoron’s judgment, James made clear that she was prepared to seize Trump’s assets and freeze his bank accounts if he was not able to pay the full bond.

  • Entering a judgment, as James did in Westchester County on Thursday, is the first step that a creditor takes in order to recover property, CNN reported. In Westchester, which is located just north of Manhattan, Trump owns Seven Springs, a lavish private estate, and a private golf club, Trump National Golf Club Westchester.

  • James has already taken that same step in Manhattan, where Trump owns several buildings.

Why it matters: Unless the New York appeals court intervenes, James appears ready to make good on her promise to seize and sell off Trump’s real estate holdings in order to satisfy the bond as Trump appeals Engoron’s judgment.

New York hush money

Prosecutors call new documents a ‘red herring,’ urge judge not to further delay trial

Key players: Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Colangelo, Judge Juan Merchan, former special counsel Robert Mueller, former Trump lawyer turned prosecution witness Michael Cohen

  • In a court filing Thursday, prosecutors told Merchan that fewer than 270 of the 170,000 documents turned over to Trump’s lawyers by federal prosecutors pertain to the hush money case, meaning that there is no reason to further delay the trial set to begin on April 15, ABC News reported.

  • Citing the newly received documents, many of which pertain to Mueller’s findings about Cohen during his 2017-2019 investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia, Trump’s lawyers are seeking to have the charges dropped outright or to push back the start of the trial even further.

  • Federal prosecutors, seeking to avoid the appearance that they were withholding possible evidence in a criminal trial, submitted the documents.

  • “Enough is enough. These tactics by defendant and defense counsel should be stopped,” Thursday’s filing by Colangelo stated, NBC News reported.

  • “Defendant’s accusations are wholly unfounded, and the circumstances here do not come close to warranting the extreme sanctions he has sought,” the filing stated regarding Trump’s lawyers’ assertion the submission of the additional documents was itself cause to dismiss the charges.

  • Last week, Merchan pushed the March 25 start of the trial to April 15 to allow Trump’s lawyers to review the documents. Bragg said he did not oppose that delay.

  • But in Thursday’s filing, Colangelo called the documents “a red herring” that were simply part of the defense’s strategy of “strategic delay.”

Why it matters: Trump’s lawyers have successfully delayed the start of all four of the criminal trials facing the former president. Merchan must now decide whether further delay is warranted.

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Wednesday, March 20

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Lawyers with New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office cast doubt on former President Donald Trump’s claim that he cannot find a company to lend him the $464 million bond he needs to appeal the judgment in his financial fraud trial. In Georgia, meanwhile, Trump and some of his co-defendants in the election interference and racketeering case are given the green light to appeal Judge Scott McAfee’s decision to allow Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to continue her prosecution of them. The lawyers say they will now approach the Georgia Court of Appeals in an attempt to have Willis removed and the charges dismissed. Here are the latest legal developments facing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for 2024.

New York financial fraud

James’s office: Trump’s bond claims don’t add up

Key players: New York Attorney General Letitia James, Judge Arthur Engoron

  • Lawyers on James’s team submitted a filing Wednesday to a New York appeals court in response to Trump’s request to significantly reduce or stay the $464 million bond required to be paid on Monday to appeal the judgment in his New York financial fraud trial, CNN reported.

  • Trump’s lawyers stated that their loan requests had been turned down by 30 insurance companies, but did not specify what collateral they had offered in return.

  • In the filing, James’s team wrote that Trump’s lawyers “supply no documentary evidence that demonstrates precisely what real property they offered to sureties, on what terms that property was offered, or precisely why the sureties were unwilling to accept the assets.”

  • On Monday, Trump’s lawyers told the appeals court that the former president faced “insurmountable difficulties” in raising the money for the bond, and Trump himself complained on social media that, thanks to Engoron’s ruling, he “would be forced to mortgage or sell Great Assets, perhaps at Fire Sale prices,” in order to do so.

  • James’s lawyers made sure to link Trump’s failure to secure a loan with the central issue of the fraud trial: that Trump had been found to have inflated the value of his assets.

  • “As far as the Court can infer, sureties may have refused to accept defendants’ specific holdings as collateral because using Mr. Trump’s real estate will generally need ‘a property appraisal’ … and his holdings are not nearly as valuable as defendants claim,” the filing stated.

  • James, who has already given Trump a 30-day grace period to come up with the bond amount, has stated that if Trump is unable to pay it, she would go after his real estate holdings and could freeze his bank accounts.

Why it matters: Unless the appeals court intervenes on his behalf, or Trump is given a significant loan from a wealthy friend, Monday’s deadline for payment could mark a painful turning point for the former president.

Georgia election interference

Judge McAfee grants defense attorneys’ request to appeal decision on Willis

Key Players: Judge Scott McAfee, Georgia Court of Appeals, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, former lead prosecutor Nathan Wade, Trump lawyer Steve Sadow

  • On Wednesday, McAfee granted a request by lawyers for Trump and some of his co-defendants that allows them to appeal his decision to let Willis remain on the sprawling election interference case, the Associated Press reported.

  • The attorneys for the defendants had sought to have Willis disqualified, alleging that her romantic relationship with Wade represented a conflict of interest because, they claimed, she benefited financially from hiring him.

  • In his ruling, McAfee rebuked Willis’s “tremendous” lapse in judgment, but allowed her to stay on the case on the condition that Wade step down.

  • Wade promptly tendered his resignation, but that was not enough to satisfy Sadow and the other defense lawyers, who will appeal McAfee’s decision to the Georgia Court of Appeals. “The defense is optimistic that appellate review will lead to the case being dismissed and the DA being disqualified,” Sadow said in an email to the Associated Press.

  • The appeals court will ultimately decide whether to accept the case.

  • Trump and 18 co-defendants were indicted by Willis on multiple felony counts stemming from their efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.

Why it matters: The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement to AP that the defense attorney’s appeal of McAfee’s ruling would not delay the trial from moving forward. But if the Georgia Court of Appeals court does hear the appeal, it could decide to remove Willis from the case, or dismiss the charges outright.

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Tuesday, March 19

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Former President Donald Trump says he may be forced to sell off his “Great Assets” at “Fire Sale prices” in order to raise the $464 million bond required as he appeals the judgment in his New York financial fraud trial. In a motion filed Monday, Trump’s lawyers seek to postpone payment of the bond as they appeal Judge Arthur Engoron’s judgment in the case. In the Jan. 6 election interference case, Trump’s lawyers file a brief asking the Supreme Court to rule that presidents have “absolute immunity” from criminal prosecution for acts committed while in office. Here are the latest legal developments involving the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for 2024.

New York financial fraud

With bond deadline approaching, Trump looks for alternatives

Key players: Judge Arthur Engoron, New York Attorney General Letitia James

  • On Tuesday, Trump vented on social media about the March 25 deadline to post a $464 million bond while he appeals Engoron’s judgment in his civil financial fraud trial, The Hill reported.

  • “Judge Engoron actually wants me to put up Hundreds of Millions of Dollars for the Right to Appeal his ridiculous decision. In other words, he is trying to take my Appellate Rights away from me,” Trump said in a post to Truth Social. “Nobody has ever heard of anything like this before.”

  • “I would be forced to mortgage or sell Great Assets, perhaps at Fire Sale prices, and if and when I win the Appeal, they would be gone. Does that make sense?” Trump added.

  • New York law requires a defendant to pay 110% of a civil judgment into an escrow account while that person appeals the decision in a case.

  • Engoron ruled that Trump, his adult sons and his family business were guilty of carrying out years of financial fraud when they inflated the value of assets to obtain favorable bank and insurance rates.

  • Thanks to a loan from the underwriter Chubb, Trump has already posted a separate bond for nearly $92 million while he appeals the jury’s verdict in the E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit. But Chubb and 29 other lenders refused to give Trump a loan to pay the larger bond amount.

  • Trump now has limited options to raise the $464 million, the New York Times reported.

  • He can hope his court appeals will lead to a stay, quickly sell off real estate assets, obtain a gift from a wealthy supporter, ask James to extend the 30-day grace period she has already given him or file for bankruptcy.

  • If none of those options are available to Trump and he fails to pay the full bond on Monday, James could begin to seize Trump’s assets and freeze his bank accounts.

Why it matters: Even as a politician, Trump’s brand has been synonymous with wealth. His New York real estate holdings, some of which were at the center of the financial fraud trial, are reportedly some of his most prized possessions.

Jan. 6 election interference

Trump asks Supreme Court to rule that presidents have ‘absolute immunity’ from prosecution

Key players: Judge Tanya Chutkan, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. Supreme Court, Trump lawyer John Sauer, special counsel Jack Smith

  • On Tuesday, Trump’s lawyers filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that a president enjoys “absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for his official acts,” Reuters reported.

  • “The president cannot function, and the presidency itself cannot retain its vital independence, if the president faces criminal prosecution for official acts once he leaves office,” Sauer wrote in the filing.

  • Trump is charged with conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to disenfranchise voters, and conspiring and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

  • His attorneys claim Trump’s actions were part of his official duties as president and argued in their brief that allowing him to be prosecuted would forever alter the job.

  • “The threat of future prosecution and imprisonment would become a political cudgel to influence the most sensitive and controversial presidential decisions, taking away the strength, authority and decisiveness of the presidency,” the filing states.

  • In fact, Trump is the first president in U.S. history charged with a crime after leaving office.

  • Smith has countered that Trump contested the election in an attempt to remain in power, and that no one is above the law.

  • Chutkan and the court of appeals both ruled in Smith’s favor, but Trump has appealed the matter to the Supreme Court.

  • An Ipsos/Politico poll released this week found that 70% of U.S. voters and 48% of Republicans reject Trump’s assertion that he is immune to criminal prosecution for acts committed while in office.

Why it matters: While Trump’s lawyers argue that presidential power would be upended if the Supreme Court ruled that a commander in chief could never be prosecuted for acts committed while in office, prosecutors have focused on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. Left unsaid is what consequences might unfold if the Supreme Court enshrines protections for a president’s actions, whatever they may entail, while still residing at the White House.

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Monday, March 18

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Lawyers for former President Donald Trump file an emergency appeal challenging Judge Scott McAfee’s ruling that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis can continue to prosecute Trump and 18 others on election interference charges now that lead prosecutor Nathan Wade has stepped down. Trump’s lawyers tell a New York appeals court that he faces “insurmountable difficulties” in securing the $464 million bond from lenders that he is required to pay as he appeals the judgment in his financial fraud civil trial. Trump is also asking the court to lower the amount he must pay while he appeals the case. Here are the latest legal developments facing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for 2024.

Georgia election interference

Trump appeals judge’s decision allowing Fani Willis to remain on case

Key players: Trump lawyer Steve Sadow, Judge Scott McAfee, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, former lead prosecutor Nathan Wade, the Georgia Court of Appeals

  • On Monday, Trump and eight of his co-defendants filed an emergency appeal of McAfee’s ruling that allowed Willis to remain on the case against Trump and 18 others so long as Wade stepped aside, USA Today reported.

  • “The motion notes that the Court found that Willis’ actions created an appearance of impropriety and an ‘odor of mendacity’ that lingers in this case, but it nonetheless refused to dismiss the case or disqualify her,” the filing with the Georgia Court of Appeals states.

  • Willis and Wade admitted to having a romantic relationship, but denied conflict-of-interest claims by the defendants that Willis had benefited financially by hiring Wade or had lied when called to testify about that relationship.

  • Willis indicted Trump and 18 others for their efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. So far, four of the defendants have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the others charged in the case.

  • McAfee has yet to schedule a date for the trial for the remaining defendants.

  • It is unclear whether the appeals court will take the case.

Why it matters: While McAfee allowed Willis to remain on the case, the appeals process could further delay the trial against Trump and the other defendants until after the November election.

New York financial fraud

Trump asks appeals court to allow him to delay payment of bond

Key players: Judge Arthur Engoron, New York Attorney General Letitia James, Trump lawyers Alina Habba and Clifford Robert, Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten

  • Trump’s lawyers told a New York appeals court that the former president had approached 30 underwriters to try to secure the $464 million bond required for him to proceed with his appeal of Engoron’s judgment in the financial fraud trial, but none had agreed to lend him the money, CNN reported.

  • “The amount of the judgment, with interest, exceeds $464 million, and very few bonding companies will consider a bond of anything approaching that magnitude,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in a court filing.

  • Trump is asking the appeals court to reduce the bond amount and to delay its payment until after his appeal is heard.

  • Last month, Engoron ordered Trump to pay the state $355 million plus interest for years of fraudulent business practices, including the inflation of his assets to obtain favorable loan and insurance rates.

  • Trump is appealing the decision, which obliges him to deposit 110% of the total amount owed into an escrow account as the appeals court hears the case.

  • In Monday’s filing, Garten also painted a dim outlook for Trump’s ability to raise the bond amount.

  • “Defendants have faced what have proven to be insurmountable difficulties in obtaining an appeal bond for the full $464 million,” he wrote, ABC News reported.

  • James has said that if Trump does not come up with the full bond amount, she would go after his real estate assets.

  • “Obtaining such cash through a ‘fire sale’ of real estate holdings would inevitably result in massive, irrecoverable losses — textbook irreparable injury,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in their filing.

  • Habba and Robert also argued that the bond amount was “unconstitutionally excessive.”

Why it matters: During his trial, Trump told the court that he had $400 million on hand that he could apply toward a bond. Since then, he lost two high-profile cases, pushing his liabilities over half a billion dollars. He has paid a nearly $92 billion bond amount as he appeals a jury’s verdict in the defamation lawsuits brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll.

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