Trump’s Financial Squeeze – The New York Times


Donald Trump has 10 days to come up with a $175 million bond in his New York civil fraud case. After that, he may be on the hook for the full penalty in the case: almost half a billion dollars.

Could this situation affect his presidential campaign? Yes, it could. I will explain how in today’s newsletter, by answering four questions from The Morning’s staff.

What are the basic details of this case?

The New York attorney general, Letitia James, sued Trump and the Trump Organization in 2022. She accused them of committing widespread fraud over a decade by inflating the values of properties, at times by as much as $2 billion a year.

The net effect, James said, was essentially that Trump was able to get loans and insurance policies at more favorable rates than he was otherwise entitled to. A judge agreed, and ordered Trump to pay $454 million — equivalent to the total of his ill-gotten gains, plus the interest he would have paid. Trump has insisted that since his lenders weren’t stiffed, there were no victims, and that he considers the judgment corrupt.

Yesterday, an appeals court said that the state would accept a far smaller bond — $175 million — while it considers whether to uphold the judge’s findings.

Trump tried, but failed, to come up with the $454 million bond before the appeals court stepped in on Monday. Does it seem likely that he will be able to get the smaller bond?

Trump told reporters on Monday in Manhattan that he would be able to post the bond. There’s no independent way to verify that he has enough cash, and if he decides to seek an outside company to provide the bond, he will still need to put up a large amount of cash and other investments as collateral to secure it, and in a short amount of time.

However, the amount is less than half what it was previously, so it will almost certainly be easier now. And some legal experts see the appeals court’s decision as evidence that the court may reduce the $454 million judgment set by Justice Arthur F. Engoron.

Trump’s legal problems are serious. So far, though, they don’t seem to have affected his 2024 campaign. He has become the presumptive nominee in a rout. Why might this case be different?

This case goes to the heart of his identity and public image in a way the criminal cases simply do not. The risk of having his bank accounts frozen — or even one of his properties seized — affects him psychologically, and immediately. This is part of why he was so emphatic that the reduced bond requirement was a victory.

Trump was in a different courtroom in New York yesterday, where a judge set an April 15 start date for Trump’s criminal trial on charges that he falsified business records to cover up hush money payments during the 2016 election. Even if he’s convicted in that case, though, it’s unlikely that he would be sent to prison before Election Day. What’s more, the question of how he ran his business, according to James’s telling, is likely to become a political cudgel for President Biden’s allies. For his part, Trump is painting it all as an overreach by his political opposition.

What should people watch for now?

The appeals court is probably going to take several months to consider the fraud ruling and Trump’s penalty, based on what they said Monday. If they uphold the decision, Trump would then have to hand over almost half a billion dollars. If not, he will describe it as a smack-down of an overzealous judge and attorney general.

Trump’s social media company, which runs Truth Social, closed a deal last week to become a publicly traded company, and it’s an open question whether he will try to use his stake from that deal to acquire a bond from another company.

For now, Trump’s reprieve in the civil fraud case is temporary.

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