Real news about fake billionaire Trump: He can’t pay his bond!
Former president Donald Trump waits to take the witness stand during his civil fraud trial at New York Supreme Court, Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in New York. He said in court he had hundreds of millions of dollars in cash but it turns out he can't pay his bond. | Brendan McDermid/AP

NEW YORK—in the latest financial reverse for former Republican Oval Office occupant Donald Trump, his lawyers told New York courts he can’t make the $464 million—and counting—bond in the state’s civil judgment against him for massive financial fraud.

In layman’s terms, Trump can’t find a bondsman to put up bail for him.

Trump’s statement may effectively produce what the judge in the case, Arthur Engoron, decided not to invoke: The breakup and sell-off of the mogul’s real estate empire.

That’s because if Trump can’t fork over all the money by the end of this month, the judgment, which is growing by $112,000 in interest daily, state Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James, whose office won the case against Trump, has the power to seize his cash and his assets and sell them to pay what he owes to New York.

Which James told the New York Post in late February she is perfectly willing to do, even though Trump’s lawyers argue that dumping such high-value properties, most of them in midtown Manhattan, on the market all at once would depress their worth.

“He engaged in this massive amount of fraud. It wasn’t just a simple mistake, a slight oversight, the variations are wildly exaggerated, and the extent of the fraud was staggering,” James said then. “If average New Yorkers went into a bank and submitted false documents, the government would throw the book at them, and the same should be true for former presidents.”

The financial failures throw yet another monkey wrench into Trump’s campaign to retake the White House this fall. Trump, also a serial misogynist, faces dozens of counts in federal cases in Florida and D.C. The D.C. case’s four counts deal with his attempt to steal the presidential election four years ago. The three dozen Florida counts cover his alleged illegal taking of secret documents from the White House after his election loss.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Engoron ruled Trump low-balled the state and Westchester County to escape full real estate taxes while literally making up high values of both his properties—including his Mar-a-Lago Florida estate, his golf clubs and his Chicago skyscraper—and his personal fortune when seeking loans to buy the properties, and insurance for them.

Trump says he will default on the cash he owes the state by the end of this month. Justice Engoron, in a bench civil trial without a jury, ruled Trump committed financial fraud, conspired to do so with others, and filed false business tax returns and false business papers to insurers.

But when Trump approached 30 large insurers seeking loans to pay the bond, all turned him down.

Too big an amount to ask

Most said it was too large to ask. Justice Engoron’s ruling pointed out Trump got loans for his real estate deals from Germany’s Deutsche Bank and from Russian lenders.

All the New York bonding firms wanted cash or stock, not Trump’s real estate, as collateral for the bond, his lawyers told the New York court. Even Trump, on his TruthSocial blog, admitted he couldn’t come up with the money.

“The amount of the judgment, with interest, exceeds $464 million, and very few bonding companies will consider a bond of anything approaching that magnitude,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. Trump himself owes the state $454 million. His sons owe the rest.

His lawyers also asked the court to halt the bond demand while Trump appeals the case, the common Trump tactic he’s used for decades to escape judgments and fines.

An insurance broker, Gary Giulietti, who testified for Trump during the civil fraud trial in Justice Engoron’s court, signed an affidavit stating that securing a bond in the full amount “is a practical impossibility,” CNN reported. Most bond insurers have $100 million limits on individual cases, he said.

On his Truth Social blog, Trump called the big bond “unconstitutional, un-American, unprecedented, and practically impossible for ANY Company, including one as successful as mine”—yet another Trump lie, according to the evidence. “The Bonding Companies have never heard of such a bond, of this size, before, nor do they have the ability to post such a bond, even if they wanted to.”

Even as Trump’s lawyers were pleading poverty on his behalf in New York, they racked up an apparent win in yet another Trump case, in federal court in Florida.

The stall came in federal court in West Palm Beach, where Trump-appointed District Judge Aileen Cannon asked attorneys for both Trump and Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith, who’s prosecuting the case, to propose jury instructions, even though the court hasn’t even begun to interview potential jurors.

The Associated Press and Newsweek made clear Judge Cannon’s request accepted arguments the Trump attorneys raised against the case there.

The case involves secret and confidential government papers—including a Pentagon plan to launch a war on Iran—which Trump illegally purloined from the White House and shipped to his Mar-a-Lago estate. Trump later disclosed some of them, also illegally, to unauthorized people, including an Australian business mogul.

Cannon proposed two scenarios. In one, “both parties would outline” for the jury “whether a record retained by a former president at the end of their time in office is their personal property and whether the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt ‘it is personal or presidential using the definitions set forth’ in the post-Nixon Presidential Records Act,” Newsweek said. The other “would lay out the arguments in which a president ‘has sole authority under the PRA to categorize records as personal or presidential’ during their presidency.”

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.