Trump claims he has $500m ‘in cash’ to fund his campaign after his lawyers said he couldn’t afford bond

The clock is ticking for the former president to post an appeals bond to stop a $454m fraud judgment against him

Alex Woodward
Friday 22 March 2024 23:48 GMT
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Days before a deadline to block enforcement of a $454m judgment against him, Donald Trump claims he has nearly $500m “in cash” despite his own attorneys telling a New York appeals court that he can’t come up with the money.

Mr Trump has repeatedly claimed that he is worth several billions of dollars, with much of that value tied up in the Trump Organization and his brand-building real estate holdings.

Before a Monday deadline to post a mammoth appeals bond to prevent the state from enforcing a nearly half a billion dollar judgment, the former president declared in an all-caps post on his Truth Social that he obtained “almost” $500m “through hard work, talent and luck.”

That “substantial amount” was intended for his presidential campaign, he said on Friday.

In reality, the Republican Party’s nominee for the presidency – who now appears to be facing a financial crisis while relying on political action committees and the party itself to pay his mounting legal bills – likely has far less money available to him.

The former president hasn’t contributed to his own campaign since 2016.

During a taped deposition in the civil fraud case last year, Mr Trump claimed he has more than $400m in cash. His attorney Alina Habba told Newsmax last month that “of course” Mr Trump has money to pay off the judgment against him.

“He’s a billionaire,” she said.

Mr Trump stated in his 2021 statement of financial condition – the documents at the centre of the case, and the most recent available from the trial – that he had roughly $294m in cash, a figure that New York Attorney General Letitia James alleges is inflated.

Mr Trump has also netted nearly $187m from selling the lease on his Washington DC hotel and the rights to manage a New York City golf course – earnings that the former president is accused of receiving through a fraudulent scheme at the centre of the attorney general’s complaint.

His attempts to salvage appearances of his vast personal fortune – an image he has cultivated for decades as he navigated waves of litigation and built a persona of self-made success when he first ran for the White House – could ultimately undermine his still-pending case before the appeals court.

This week, Mr Trump’s attorneys told an appeals court that 30 companies he approached to help him bond in excess of $454m have all turned him down. Those 30 companies are “unwilling” to use his star properties as collateral after a judge found him liable for fraudulently inflating the value of his real estate portfolio.

Those companies “do not have the financial strength to handle a bond of this size” or are “unwilling to accept the risk associated with such a large bond,” according to lawyers for Mr Trump.

Those companies “will only accept cash or cash equivalents,” such as marketable securities, and typically would “require collateral of approximately 120 per cent of the amount of the judgment.”

In this case, that total is nearly $560m – far beyond what even Mr Trump claims he has in cash.

A bond company would also likely charge a premium of approximately 2 per cent per year “with two years in advance – an upfront cost over $18m,” according to Mr Trump’s attorneys.

That money would not be recoverable, even in the event that Mr Trump wins his appeal.

Mr Trump grossly inflated his net worth and assets over a decade, according to the lawsuit from Ms James that followed a years-long investigation and ended with Mr Trump and his co-defendants losing a months-long civil trial in Manhattan.

A ruling from New York Justice Arthur Engoron found that the former president and his associates defrauded banks and insurers by submitting those manipulated financial statements to obtain favourable terms for some of his star properties.

Ms James has said her office is prepared to seize his assets if necessary, and state attorneys have filed the Manhattan court judgment with a suburban New York county – home to Mr Trump’s National Gulf Club Westchester and his Seven Springs estate – signalling a first move to do so.

Mr Trump already has relied on a chief ally to help him post an appeals bond to block a jury’s $83.3m verdict finding him liable for defaming E Jean Carroll after she accused him of sexual assault.

He was required to put up 110 per cent of the judgment to pause collections while the appeal plays out. The Federal Insurance Company – a subsidiary of the Chubb Corporation, whose CEO was appointed to a trade advisory committee during the Trump administration – is financing the bond.

However, according to Mr Trump’s attorneys, Chubb would not support an appeals bond in his fraud judgment.

The former president is expecting a major windfall from a long-anticipated merger between the parent company of his Truth Social platform and the publicly traded shell company Digital World Acquisition Corporation. He could reap billions of dollars in shares from the deal, but he likely won’t be able to tap any of that money for at least six months – just before Election Day.

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