Trump’s Posting of $175 Million Bond Could Block James From Seizing His Properties — for Months or Even Years

Mr. Trump posted the bond, reduced by an appeals court, at the 11th hour. His properties are now safe from seizure by New York’s attorney general while he appeals the judgment, a process that will likely take years.

Seth Wenig-Pool/Getty Images
President Trump is flanked by his attorneys at his civil fraud trial at New York. Seth Wenig-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump has secured a $175 million bond he needs to cover the much larger judgment as he appeals the verdict in his New York state civil fraud case, preventing New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, who sued Mr. Trump and others for business fraud, from seizing his trophy real estate assets — for now.         

In a major victory for Mr. Trump last week, a panel of five appellate court judges paused most, not all, rulings of a lower court judge and reduced the bond for the awarded $464-plus million judgment to $175 million.  

“I’ve just posted a 175 Million Dollar Bond with the sadly failing and very troubled State of New York based on a Corrupt Judge and Attorney General,” Mr. Trump said Monday evening on his social media platform, Truth Social.  “The Crooked Judge … should be disbarred and Letitia James who campaigned on getting TRUMP Impeached.” 

The court had given Mr. Trump ten days, until April 4, to secure the money. 

“As promised, President Trump has posted bond,” his defense attorney, Alina Habba, said in a statement. “He looks forward to vindicating his rights on appeal and overturning this unjust verdict.” 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 25: Justice Arthur Engoron sits in his court room during the civil fraud trial for Former President Donald Trump at New York State Supreme Court on October 25, 2023 in New York City. The former president may be forced to sell off his properties after Justice Arthur Engoron canceled his business certificates and ruled that he committed fraud for years while building his real estate empire after being sued by Attorney General Letitia James, seeking $250 million in damages. The trial will determine how much he and his companies will be penalized for the fraud.
Justice Arthur Engoron at New York State Supreme Court on October 25, 2023 at New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The bond Mr. Trump posted on Monday evening is underwritten by Knight Specialty Insurance, a California-based insurance company. In providing the bond, which is a legal agreement, not a money transfer, the company assures New York’s court system that it will cover the judgment against Mr. Trump should he lose his appeal and not pay. In return, the company charges Mr. Trump a fee and gets some form of collateral. 

Mr. Trump’s collateral, Forbes reported, is composed of cash and investment-grade bonds. The chairman of Knight Specialty Insurance, Don Hankey, told Forbes. “I heard that he needed a loan or a bond, and this is what we do,” he said. “So, we reached out, and he responded.”    

The California native, known as “the king of subprime car loans”, said he has previously supported Mr. Trump’s political campaigns. According to Forbes, his net worth is $7.4 billion. The former president and the billionaire never personally met, but have done business before. Mr. Hankey refinanced the mortgages at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue with a $100 million loan and the Doral property in Miami with a $125 loan in 2022, according to property records. Another of his companies, Axos Financial, has also been involved with Mr. Trump’s son in law, Jared Kushner from the Kushner real estate dynasty.

In addition to the $175 million, Mr. Trump posted bonds and cash worth more than $97 million to cover two judgments awarded to the writer E. Jean Carroll, who sued him for defamation and accused him of raping her on the lingerie floor of Bergdorf Goodman, the luxury Manhattan department store, in the mid 1990s, in two separate federal civil trials. Mr. Trump is currently appealing those verdicts.

Don Hankey, ‘the king of subprime car loans’, secured Mr. Trump’s bond. Hankey Capital

Seemingly undeterred by having been found liable for calling Ms. Carroll “a total con job,” Mr. Trump again derided her case on Monday evening. 

“Also posted a 91 Million Dollar Bond on another New York Fake Case money I can’t use on my campaign,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Just what Crooked Joe wanted. WITCH HUNT!”

Regarding Ms. James’ much larger judgment, the bond doesn’t solve Mr. Trump’s civil-fraud-case dilemma. The defense team must now begin to perfect its appeal for the appeals court’s September term, the March 25 order states. 

A motion clerk at the appeals court told the Sun last week that defense briefs must be submitted by July 8. The attorney general must file hers soon after. The process could take months, or years. And even if Mr. Trump wins the presidency in November, the powers of the federal government cannot make a state case go away. 

New York's attorney general, Letitia James.
New York’s attorney general, Letitia James. AP Photo/Seth Wenig, file

The decision by the lower court judge, Arthur Engoron, including the $464-plus million judgment, stands until the appeals court rules otherwise. Legal observers have long expected that the case will be decided on appeal, as the rulings from Judge Engoron were, from the start, unfavorable to the Trumps.

Ms. James accused Mr. Trump, his two adult sons, two of his former employees, the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, and controller, Jeff McConney, and ten of his companies of falsifying business records in a decades-long scheme to gain favorable bank loans and insurance policies. 

In a pretrial summary judgment, Judge Engoron found the Trumps guilty of civil fraud before the trial began. After a two-and-months long trial that heard 43 witnesses, Judge Engoron found the Trumps guilty on all other counts. Responding to one of Mr. Trump’s principal arguments that there were no victims, no one lost money, that no bank complained and all loans were repaid in full, the judge argued that the victim was the “financial marketplace.” 

“Timely and total repayment of loans does not extinguish the harm that false statements inflict on the marketplace,” Judge Engoron wrote in his decision.  “Indeed, the common excuse that ‘everybody does it’ is all the more reason to strive for honesty and transparency and to be vigilant in enforcing the rules.”  

President Trump speaks after arriving for his civil business fraud trial in New York State Supreme Court on December 7, 2023. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez-Pool/Getty Images

Besides the massive, more than $464 million award, the court also paused almost all other penalties issued by Judge Engoron: The order to bar Mr. Trump from applying for loans from New York financial institutions for three-years; the order to bar his adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, from serving as officers or directors in New York companies for two-years; and the order to permanently bar Weisselberg and Mr. McConney from holding financial control positions in New York businesses. All of these punishments were put on hold. 

However, the appellate court kept Judge Engoron’s order that the independent monitor, whom he installed a year ago, continue to oversee the Trump Organization’s finances for another three years, and that an independent compliance director be added to the oversight.

The defense actually cited the independent monitor when it asked the appeals court to reduce or dismiss the $464 million bond. Under such monitorship, which supervises the cash flow and the assets within the Trump Organization, the defense argued, the purpose of a bond becomes almost unnecessary. The Trumps cannot dissipate any assets without the monitor alerting the court. 

One of Mr. Trump’s defense attorneys, Christopher Kise, told the Sun in an emailed statement last week that “President Trump looks forward to a full and fair appellate process which overturns the judgment and ends the Attorney General’s abuse of power and tyrannical pursuit of the front running candidate for President of the United States.” 

The New York Sun

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