For Trump, a Blizzard of Court Action Is Just Another Monday

For anyone but Donald J. Trump, Monday’s legal docket would have induced dizziness.

In the morning, a lawyer for the writer E. Jean Carroll suggested she might sue Mr. Trump for defamation for a third time. By lunch, it emerged that Mr. Trump’s lawyers had mounted a last-ditch effort to delay his upcoming criminal trial in Manhattan. And by evening, the New York attorney general asked an appeals court to maintain a $454 million judgment against Mr. Trump in yet another case.

It was a flurry of legal activity that, in a single day, demonstrated the remarkable breadth of Mr. Trump’s legal entanglements.

He is not only standing trial this month on criminal charges — making him the first former American president to face prosecution — but is also fighting three other criminal cases and several civil lawsuits, all at a time when he is poised to lock up the Republican presidential nomination. Even for a man who is no stranger to legal woes, this is an unparalleled situation.

Ms. Carroll’s lawyer raised the prospect of a new lawsuit after Mr. Trump in recent days repeatedly lashed out at her, using the same kind of disparaging language that led to an $83.3 million judgment against him in January.

“The statute of limitations for defamation in most jurisdictions is between one and three years,” Roberta A. Kaplan, Ms. Carroll’s lawyer, said in a statement Monday morning. “As we said after the last jury verdict, we continue to monitor every statement that Donald Trump makes about our client.”

In a separate court filing, Ms. Kaplan told the federal judge overseeing the case that she and Mr. Trump’s lawyers had reached an agreement on the details of a proposed $91.6 million bond that Mr. Trump recently posted.

The bond — provided by Federal Insurance Company, an arm of the insurance giant Chubb — would prevent Ms. Carroll from collecting her $83.3 million judgment while Mr. Trump appeals the defamation verdict. The bond is higher than the judgment because the former president is also responsible for interest.

The judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, who is not related to Ms. Kaplan, must still approve the proposed bond, which he could do as early as this week.

The race to secure the bond came as Mr. Trump was on the clock to obtain a bond for another huge judgment in a civil fraud case brought by the New York attorney general, Letitia James. In that case, Mr. Trump must post a nearly half-billion-dollar bond by March 25, or the attorney general’s office can begin seizing his assets while he appeals.

Mr. Trump, who was found liable last month for fraudulently inflating his net worth, has asked an appeals court to pause the $454 million judgment while he mounts an appeal. But on Monday, Ms. James urged the court to deny his request, arguing that Mr. Trump’s appeal was “exceedingly unlikely to succeed on the merits.”

Mr. Trump lacks the cash to come up with both bonds at once, placing him in financial peril unless the appeals court grants him a reprieve.

Although the former president boasts of his billions, his net worth is derived largely from the value of his real estate. He has more than $350 million in cash, a recent New York Times analysis found, far short of what he needs to obtain bonds in both cases.

An appeal bond is a promise from the company that offers it to cover a judgment if a defendant — in this case, Mr. Trump — loses an appeal and fails to pay. In exchange, Mr. Trump must pay the company a premium and pledge collateral, including as much cash as possible.

Mr. Trump has twice attacked Ms. Carroll in recent days, using the type of language that has led to two defamation findings against him, most recently the jury’s $83.3 million award in January.

On Saturday evening at a rally in Rome, Ga., Mr. Trump complained bitterly about the bond he had to post, insisted Ms. Carroll’s accusations were false and said that she was “not a believable person.”

Mr. Trump doubled down on those remarks Monday morning during a telephone interview with CNBC, mocking Ms. Carroll as “Ms. Bergdorf Goodman,” a reference to the luxury department store in Manhattan where she said Mr. Trump raped her in the mid-1990s. In an earlier trial last year, a federal civil jury found Mr. Trump liable for sexually abusing Ms. Carroll there and defaming her years later.

In the CNBC interview, Mr. Trump called the decisions against him “ridiculous,” without elaboration.

“I got charged — I was given a false accusation and had to post a $91 million bond on a false accusation,” said Mr. Trump, who was not in fact charged criminally in the case.

In the Manhattan criminal case that is set to go to trial on March 25, Mr. Trump is accused of covering up a potential sex scandal during and after the 2016 presidential campaign. That case, brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, is the first of Mr. Trump’s four criminal indictments to move to trial.

With his other criminal cases mired in the appeals process and other delays, it might be the only one to go to trial before Election Day.

The trial in Mr. Trump’s Washington criminal case, which involves accusations that he plotted to overturn the 2020 election, was originally scheduled to begin last week. But the Supreme Court agreed to consider whether he is immune from prosecution on charges involving official acts he took while president, throwing the trial into doubt.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers have also made a last-ditch effort to delay the Manhattan trial. In court papers made public on Monday, they argued that the judge overseeing the case should wait to hold the trial until after the Supreme Court has ruled on the immunity issue, which may not happen until June.

“President Trump is entitled to immunity from prosecution based on evidence of official acts that he undertook during his first term in office,” his lawyers wrote.

The judge in the case, Juan M. Merchan, is unlikely to grant the request. “The issue of the state proceedings I don’t believe is for the Supreme Court,” he said at a recent hearing.

Mr. Trump’s request to delay the Manhattan trial was hardly his first attempt to play the timing of the cases against each other. On Monday, his lawyers also asked the judge overseeing the federal criminal case in Florida, where he stands accused of mishandling classified documents, to give them an extra 10 days to file a round of court papers, citing their need to prepare for his trial in Manhattan.

Alan Feuer and Jesse McKinley contributed reporting.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *