Trump gets surprise financial lifeline with $175M bond decision

Former President Trump won a surprise decision from a New York appeals court Monday that significantly lowered the cost of a bond he must pay while appealing a multimillion-dollar civil fraud judgment against him.

It’s a decision that eases some of the financial pressure on the presumptive GOP nominee for president, who had faced the prospect of New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) going after his famed properties and bank accounts if he was unable to pay a $464 million bond that was growing with interest by the day.

The five-judge appeals panel on Monday paused the enforcement of that judgment, as long as Trump and his co-defendants post a significantly smaller bond of $175 million within 10 days.

Immediately after the ruling Monday, Trump said he would “abide by the decision” and pay the $175 million, either by posting a “bond, equivalent securities or cash.”

It’s the latest legal decision to go in Trump’s direction as he mounts his challenge to President Biden.

The former president has seen the timeline on a slew of legal fights slide to the point where several cases against him may not come before a court ahead of Election Day.

At the same time, Trump’s Monday saw a split decision when a separate court ruled it will hear charges against him in his hush money case beginning April 15.

Still, the pivotal victory in the civil fraud ruling was huge for the former president, who won the decision hours before the clock on paying up was set to run out, which would have allowed James to begin seizing the former president’s assets.

Judge Arthur Engoron ruled ahead of the Manhattan trial that Trump, the Trump Organization and executives — including his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump — were liable for fraud.

Two months of trial followed, where some 40 witnesses in the former president’s business orbit were questioned under oath regarding whether Trump engaged in deceitful business practices for more than a decade.

After the trial concluded, Engoron found that Trump and his co-defendants conspired to alter Trump’s net worth for tax and insurance benefits. In addition to the $464 million judgment — more than 95 percent of which is owed by Trump alone — the defendants were also barred from serving in top leadership positions in New York businesses for several years.

Trump’s lawyers asked the court to accept a $100 million bond, admitting last week that despite “diligent efforts” it would be “impossible” for the former president to secure a full appeals bond due to lack of cash on hand.

Allowing the judgment to take effect could have had catastrophic consequences for Trump.

Trump alone owes the state $454 million, and each day it goes unpaid, an additional $112,000 in interest is tacked on to the hefty judgment. In the five weeks since Engoron issued his ruling, Trump has already amassed an additional $3.5 million in interest.

Without the court’s pause in place, James’s office could begin to seize Trump’s assets, hurling the former president into financial peril and personal shame.

The attorney general could begin processes to drain the former president’s bank accounts, garnish his wages or force him to turn over his personal property. She could also start the process of seizing Trump Organization properties.

Earlier this month, James’s office filed judgments in Westchester County, where Trump’s golf resort and private estate known as Seven Springs is located — a first step toward seizing it. Judgments have already been filed in Manhattan, where the trial took place and several of Trump’s most famous properties are located, such as Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street.

The idea alone sent Trump into full-spiral.

“Crooked Pols!!! There should be no FINE. Did nothing wrong! Why should I be forced to sell my ‘babies’ because a CORRUPT NEW YORK JUDGE & A.G. SET A FAKE AND RIDICULOUS NUMBER,” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post Monday, calling the judgment “election interference.”

Any such action would interfere with Trump’s carefully curated reputation as a savvy businessman with significant wealth — an image that helped propel him into the White House in 2016.

His sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump would also be forced to pay their part of the judgment — just under $4.7 million each, plus interest — and would begin their two-year exile from New York’s business world. The judgment would remove them from the helm of the Trump Organization, where they both serve as executive directors, and throw the company’s leadership into limbo.

Though the appeals court wound back the clock, James’s office said Trump is still facing accountability for his “staggering fraud.”

“The court has already found that he engaged in years of fraud to falsely inflate his net worth and unjustly enrich himself, his family and his organization,” said a spokesperson with the state attorney general’s office. “The $464 million judgment — plus interest — against Donald Trump and the other defendants still stands.”

The decision that the hush money trial will go forward prevented the day from being a total win for Trump.

The hush money case relates to payments allegedly made by Trump through his former fixer, Michael Cohen, to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who says the two had an affair.

That trial was originally scheduled to begin Monday in Manhattan, but Trump said a recent document dump was grounds for tossing the case — or at least, for sanctioning Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) and postponing the trial.

During a hearing Monday attended by Trump, Judge Juan Merchan rejected all those requests and locked in the new date.

It will mark Trump’s first criminal trial — and the first criminal trial of any former American president.

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