Trump offers $100m bond to pause fraud ruling as New York AG fires back at his appeal

Attorneys for Donald Trump are offering to put up only $100m to post bond in an appeal of his $455m fraud trial judgment that would pause the massive ruling against him, signalling that the former president is coming up short to block it.

In a lengthy filing to a New York appeals court, the former president’s legal team is asking to pause the ruling as he fights it, arguing that the sprawling case against him and his real estate empire falls outside the statute of limitations, with a final judgment representing an “unprecedented and unconstitutional” violation of his Eighth Amendment right against excessive fines.

They argued that his ban from running his companies and receiving loans is “draconian” and would “needlessly result in irreparable injury,” setting a precedent for “any citizen of this State who has the misfortune of dissenting” from the “politics” of state attorney general Letitia James, whose three-year investigation and lawsuit sparked a months-long trial in Manhattan.

But his attorneys don’t want to secure a bond for the full amount of the judgment, which would prevent Ms James’s office from collecting on it until the appeal is resolved.

“The exorbitant and punitive amount of the judgment coupled with an unlawful and unconstitutional blanket prohibition on lending transactions would make it impossible to secure and post a complete bond,” according to Mr Trump’s lawyers.

On Wednesday, state appellate judge Anil Singh denied Mr Trump’s request to halt enforcement of the monetary judgment against him, but he will still be allowed to direct his real estate empire and apply for loans.

Mr Trump’s attorneys had previously argued that they could not secure a bond with the loan penalty in place.

If the appeals court allows the judgment to stand, Mr Trump would need to sell properties to “raise capital under exigent circumstances, and there would be no way to recover any property sold following a successful appeal and no means to recover the resulting financial losses,” according to his attorneys.

“Simply put, [the defendants] would be unable to recover the value of that which was taken by the court and the Attorney General during the pendency of the appeal,” they wrote.

Mr Trump, his adult sons Donald Jr and Eric andTrump Organization executives Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney were found to have grossly inflated his net worth and assets over a decade to fraudulently obtain favourably financing terms on his brand-building properties.

During a taped deposition in the case last year, Mr Trump claimed that he has more than $400m in cash available to him.

His 2021 statement of financial condition – the documents at the centre of the fraud case, and the most recent available from the trial – stated that he had roughly $294m in cash, a figure that the attorney general alleges is inflated.

Earlier this month, Mr Trump’s attorney Alina Habba told Newsmax that “of course” her client has the full amount of the judgment “and then some” to pause the ruling as he appeals. “He’s a billionaire,” she said.

In response to Mr Trump’s appeal, Ms James argued on Monday that the former president should pay up and post bond without delay, and that her office would have to deploy “substantial resources” to collect what the state is owed if he doesn’t.

She argued that there is “no merit” to Mr Trump’s claim that a full bond or deposit is unnecessary “because they are willing to post a partial undertaking of less than a quarter of the judgment amount.”

“Defendants all but concede … that Mr Trump has insufficient liquid assets to satisfy the judgment; defendants would need ‘to raise capital’ to do so,” she wrote. “These are precisely the circumstances for which a full bond or deposit is necessary, where defendants’ approach would leave [her office] with substantial shortfalls once this Court affirms the judgment.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James watches Donald Trump at his civil fraud trial in New York on  25 October, 2023 (AP)
New York Attorney General Letitia James watches Donald Trump at his civil fraud trial in New York on 25 October, 2023 (AP)

She argued that the defendants “have never demonstrated that Mr Trump’s liquid assets could satisfy the full amount of the judgment,” Mr Trump “has other significant liabilities, including other outstanding money judgments against him,” and “the value of defendants’ real-estate holdings or other illiquid assets may substantially decrease during appeal, all while statutory post-judgment interest accrues.”

Ms James also warns that there is a “substantial risk” that the defendants will try to “evade” enforcement – or at least make it difficult for her office – after an appeal.

She pointed to a court-appointed independent monitor’s report that the defendants moved $40m around without disclosing it, and that “various Trump Organization entities operating in New York are allegedly now located in Florida.”

Despite their “urgency,” the defendants “have made no efforts to be forthcoming” with the court about how, exactly, they intend to post bond.

“Absent a full bond or deposit, [the attorney general’s office] would be highly prejudiced and forced to expend substantial resources to execute the judgment on defendants’ real property and other assets,” she said.