Trump has been unable to get bond for $464 million judgment, his lawyers say

Former President Donald Trump has not been able to obtain a bond to secure the $464 million civil fraud judgment against him and his co-defendants, his attorneys said in a court filing Monday.

Trump and his company need to post a bond for the full amount by next week in order to stop New York Attorney General Letitia James from being able to collect while he appeals. They’ve asked an appeals court to step in in the meantime and said Monday that they haven’t had any success getting a bond.

“Defendants’ ongoing diligent efforts have proven that a bond in the judgment’s full amount is ‘a practical impossibility,'” the filing said. “These diligent efforts have included approaching about 30 surety companies through 4 separate brokers.”

Donald Trump during a "Get Out The Vote" rally in Rome, Ga.
Donald Trump at a get-out-the-vote rally in Rome, Ga., on March 9.Christian Monterrosa/Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Their efforts, including “countless hours negotiating with one of the largest insurance companies in the world,” have proven that “obtaining an appeal bond in the full amount” of the judgment “is not possible under the circumstances presented,” the filing said.

The other bond companies will not “accept hard assets such as real estate as collateral,” but “will only accept cash or cash equivalents (such as marketable securities),” the filing said. The lawyers also noted those companies typically “require collateral of approximately 120% of the amount of the judgment” — which would total about $557 million.

“In addition, certainties would likely charge bond premiums of approximately 2 percent per year with two years in advance—an upfront cost over $18 million,” the filing said. That $18 million wouldn’t be recoverable even if Trump wins his appeal.

In all, the filing says, the “actual amount of cash or cash equivalents required ‘to collateralize the bond and have sufficient capital to run the business and satisfy its other obligations’ approach[es] $1 billion.”

While the filing says Trump can’t afford the bond, it also argues that the attorney general doesn’t have to worry about being able to collect her judgment.

“Defendants’ real estate holdings — including iconic properties like 40 Wall Street, Doral Miami, and Mar-a-Lago, — greatly exceed the amount of the judgment. Such assets are impossible to secrete or dispose of surreptitiously, leaving the plaintiff effectively secured during the pendency of an appeal,” the filing said.

Trump’s team also argued the $464 million penalty was “grossly disproportional” and cited the argument they made throughout the monthslong trial that “there were no victims, as there were no damages and no financial losses.”

In a filing last month, Trump’s lawyers asked that the bond amount be reduced to $100 million, but Monday’s filing argued he shouldn’t have to put up any bonds at all.

James’ office has argued that Trump should put up the full amount.

A 30-day automatic stay of the judgment handed down by Judge Arthur Engoron is set to expire March 25, at which point James would be clear to start seizing Trump’s assets unless the appeals court steps in.

James would not need an additional court order to start collecting in New York, where Trump has his company and a large number of real estate assets, but those efforts could be complicated by any mortgages or debts he has on those properties. It’s unclear what properties or assets James might look to seize.

Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Trump’s campaign, said in a statement that the judgment was “unjust, unconstitutional” and “un-American.”

“A bond of this size would be an abuse of the law,” he said.

Trump asked that if the state Appellate Division denies his request, the judges enter a temporary stay so he can try to make his case to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

Engoron handed down his judgment last month after finding Trump and his company had repeatedly committed fraud by overinflating personal financial statements that he used to secure bank loans and insurance policies. James’ office said there were years when Trump’s assets were overvalued by more than $2 billion.

Trump maintained he did nothing wrong and asserted that, if anything, his properties were undervalued.

The judge hit Trump and his co-defendants with a judgment saying they had to pay over $350 million — an amount that ballooned to $464 million with pre-judgment interest. Of that amount on the date the judgment was entered, the vast majority, or about $454 million, was against Trump and his companies.

That amount has grown since — the judgment against Trump will increase at a daily rate of nearly $112,000 until it’s paid off because of interest on the penalty, according to the attorney general’s office.

The filing Monday seeking to freeze the entire $464 million was filed on behalf of Trump and his co-defendants, including his sons Don Jr. and Eric, who’ve been running the Trump Organization since their father first went to the White House.

In a separate case in New York federal court, Trump last week posted a $91 million bond to secure writer E. Jean Carroll’s $83 million defamation judgment against him while he appeals that verdict as well.