Trump wins partial stay of fraud judgment, allowed to post $175 million

Story by Mark Berman, Jonathan O’Connell, Shayna Jacobs

Trump wins partial stay of fraud judgment, allowed to post $175 million

Trump wins partial stay of fraud judgment, allowed to post $175 million© Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post

An appeals court panel said Monday that former president Donald Trump would be allowed to post a $175 million bond to stave off enforcement of a nearly half-billion dollar civil judgment against him and his business.

The order Monday morning was a significant win for Trump, who was otherwise facing a massive cash crunch and the prospect of New York Attorney General Letitia James seizing some of his assets as soon as this week.

However, while the panel eased the financial cloud over Trump, it did not erase it entirely. The panel gave Trump 10 days to come up with the reduced bond of $175 million, saying it would only delay enforcement of the full amount if he put up that money within this window. Trump’s attorneys had previously sought to post a $100 million bond, rather than the full amount, and have not said whether he can meet the $175 million threshold.

A New York judge earlier this year hit Trump with penalties totaling more than $450 million. The former president immediately vowed to appeal that ruling, but to stop James from collecting in the meantime, he was required to put up a bond in the full amount. His attorneys have said that the cost of securing such a large bond would exceed $550 million. The appeals court panel did not reduce the initial judgment Monday, only the amount he needs to put up for a bond while appealing.

Related video: Trump plans to appeal $464 million judgment in NY fraud case (FOX 5 Washington DC)

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The panel’s order came at a precarious moment for Trump, who is contending with significant financial instability and legal peril. Separate from this case, Trump has been ordered by two civil juries to pay nearly $90 million to the writer E. Jean Carroll. He also faces charges in four criminal cases, including one in New York related to hush money payments made to an adult-film actress.

In a sign of how many overlapping legal headaches swirl around Trump, the appeals panel’s order on Trump’s bond came down while he was in a New York courtroom for a hearing about the hush money case. The justice in that case determined that it will go to trial April 15.

The civil fraud judgment against Trump, meanwhile, stems from a lawsuit that James brought against him and his company, as well as his two eldest sons and two executives. James’s lawsuit said Trump misstated the value of his properties and other assets by up to $2.2 billion a year from 2011 to 2021.

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who heard the case, in February ordered that Trump pay the hefty judgment, which comes out to more than $450 million — with interest. Trump’s attorneys have suggested that he would struggle to finance an appeal bond of that size, saying they had tried and failed to get more than two dozen companies to help secure the bond.

After the appeals court panel ruled Monday, Trump posted to social media that his side would “abide by the decision … and post either a bond, equivalent securities, or cash.” He also criticized Engoron and James, both of whom he has ridiculed throughout the trial and after. Speaking to reporters briefly during a break in the hearing in the hush money case, he thanked the appeals court panel and again insulted Engoron.

James’s office said that the underlying outcome of the trial remained in place.

“Donald Trump is still facing accountability for his staggering fraud,” a spokesperson for her office said. “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. The $464 million judgment — plus interest — against Donald Trump and the other defendants still stands.”

Although the appeals court gave no reasoning for its decision, Adam Pollock, an attorney who formerly served as assistant attorney general in New York, said the decision could indicate that it might consider permanently reducing the judgment against Trump on appeal.

“It’s extraordinary because the law is clear that you have to post a bond in the full amount, and it additionally suggests that there may be concern that the underlying judgment is itself excessive,” said Pollock.

In addition to reducing the amount Trump must put up for his appeal bond, the panel also said it would stay other parts of Engoron’s decision. Among other things, the panel said it would block Engoron’s decree that Trump be prohibited from getting loans from any New York financial institution for three years, and his order that Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, be barred from serving in a top position at a New York corporation for two years. The panel said it declined to block some of Engoron’s other moves, including his directive installing an independent director of compliance.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

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