New York AG questions Trump cash reserves as $464 million judgment looms

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he arrives at a Manhattan courthouse, for the trial of himself, his adult sons, the Trump Organization and others in a civil fraud case brought by state Attorney General Letitia James, in New York City, U.S., October 2, 2023. 

Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

Former President Donald Trump has not shown that he has enough cash to cover the full amount of a $464 million civil fraud judgment if he loses his appeal, New York’s chief law officer warned in a court filing Monday evening.

New York Attorney General Letitia James raised that concern as she argued that Trump and his co-defendants should be required to post cash or bonds covering the entire fraud judgment, if they want to pause it from coming due while they challenge the ruling.

“Defendants have never demonstrated that Mr. Trump’s liquid assets—which may fluctuate over time—will be enough to satisfy the full amount of this judgment following appeal,” James told a New York appeals court.

Trump’s real estate holdings may also decrease in value as the appeal drags on, while post-judgment interest continues to rack up, she wrote.

His finances could be further strained by his other civil and criminal legal battles, James added, including a January jury verdict ordering him to pay $83.3 million in damages for defaming writer E. Jean Carroll.

Trump “has substantial liabilities that may reduce his liquid assets further, including other outstanding money judgments against him, and he faces multiple criminal indictments,” she wrote, pointing to that verdict.

Without a full bond, the civil fraud defendants — Trump, his two adult sons, his company and its top executives — might also try to “evade” or exacerbate enforcement of the judgment if they lose the appeal, James warned.

She urged the appeals court to reject Trump’s bid to stay the judgment with a $100 million bond, less than a quarter of the total amount awarded by Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron.

Attorneys for Trump did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on James’ filing.

The defense lawyers had argued that the smaller bond amount was enough to secure the judgment, when coupled with the continuing oversight of the Trump Organization’s assets by a court-appointed financial monitor.

New York Attorney General Letitia James sits in the courtroom during the civil fraud trial of former President Donald Trump and his children at New York State Supreme Court on November 03, 2023 in New York City.

David Sanders | Getty Images

They claimed that it would be “impossible” for them to secure a full appeal bond, which could be set at 120% of the judgment — more than $550 million — since that judgment also barred Trump from applying for loans in New York.

James challenged that claim, writing that the defendants “fail to provide information about what steps (if any) they have taken to secure an undertaking prior to filing their motion.”

They have not yet shown that Trump — a professed multi-billionaire who said in a deposition last year that he holds more than $400 million in cash — has tried and failed to obtain a bond, she noted. The ban on borrowing is also no obstacle, because appeal bonds are not loans, she wrote.

Appeal bonds are intended to ensure that the person awarded damages at trial will be able to collect that money if the verdict is upheld on appeal. The person posting the bond will get their deposit back if they win their appeal.

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New York appeals court Judge Anil Singh on Feb. 28 rejected the $100 million bond proposal, but allowed the defendants to continue doing business in New York and lifted the ban on seeking loans.

That temporary ruling is in effect before a full panel of appeals court judges is set to consider the matter next week.

Meanwhile, Trump on Friday posted a $91.6 million bond as he appeals a federal civil jury verdict finding him liable for defaming Carroll after she came forward to accuse him of raping her in the mid-1990s.

That was the second jury to order Trump to pay Carroll damages for defamation. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has continued to attack Carroll, prompting her lawyers to suggest that they might file another defamation lawsuit.