‘Keep your filthy hands off Trump Tower!’: Trump begs fans to pay his $464m bond

Former president blasts New York Attorney General Letitia James as an ‘insane radical’ in a desperate plea for cash – claiming Democrats are trying to ‘intimidate’ him into abandoning his campaign for the White House

Joe Sommerlad
Friday 22 March 2024 05:12 GMT
Trump’s lawyer doesn’t rule out seeking $464m bond money from wealthy Russian or Saudi donors

Donald Trump has sent out a panicked fundraising message to his supporters as he begs them to help foot his ballooning legal bills.

The desperate memo, titled “Keep your filthy hands off Trump Tower!”, comes as the Monday deadline to pay his $464m bond in his New York fraud trial judgement ticks ever closer.

“KEEP YOUR FILTHY HANDS OFF TRUMP TOWER!” the text reads, linking to an accompanying memo that states: “Insane radical Democrat AG Letitia James wants to SEIZE my properties in New York. THIS INCLUDES THE ICONIC TRUMP TOWER!”

It continues: “Democrats think this will intimidate me. They think that if they take my cash to stifle my campaign, that I’ll give up! Here’s one thing they don’t know: WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER!”

The frantic tone of the plea stands in stark contrast to the statement issued by Trump spokesman Steven Cheung to CNN on Wednesday in which he dismissed the network’s reporting that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was in “panic mode” over the matter as “pure bulls*** and fake news”.

As it stands, Mr Trump – who made his name in luxury property before turning to reality television and then politics – has until 25 March to stump up the money if he wishes to appeal Judge Arthur Engoron’s ruling last month.

The judge ordered Mr Trump to pay around $355m in fines and a further $100m plus in interest for misrepresenting the value of Trump Organization assets between 2011 and 2021, in order to obtain favourable loans from banks and insurers.

With interest ticking ever-upwards at 9 per cent or $120,000 per day, the exact total he owes at the time of writing (Thursday 21 March) stands at a staggering $467.6m, according to the helpful Trump Debt Counter website.

Mr Trump’s lawyers notified an appeals court earlier this week that their client has failed to raise the capital to cover the bond, saying finding a surety company to help them was proving a “practical impossibility”.

The former president has approached “about 30 surety companies through four separate brokers”, his attorneys said, but had so far come back empty-handed in the face of “insurmountable difficulties”.

“Critical among these challenges is not just the inability and reluctance of the vast majority of sureties to underwrite a bond for this unprecedented sum, but, even more significantly, the unwillingness of every surety bond provider approached by defendants to accept real estate as collateral,” his attorneys wrote.

The companies approached “will only accept cash or cash equivalents” such as marketable securities, they said, and would typically “require collateral of approximately 120 per cent of the amount of the judgement,” which, in this case, comes to almost $560m.

Sureties would then in all probability charge bond premiums of approximately 2 per cent per year “with two years in advance – an upfront cost over $18m,” according to the attorneys.

That money would not be recoverable even if Mr Trump were to ultimately succeed in overturning the judgement against him.

Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City (AP)

The former president has hotly objected to a “fire sale” of his property empire – selling off assets to generate cash to meet the bond.

But failing to do so risks allowing such prized properties as Trump Tower in Manhattan – a property so integral to his brand – to fall into the hands of New York Attorney General Letitia James, who has already said she is more than happy to repossess his holdings.

On Wednesday, The New York Post quoted Trump insiders as saying that the former president may be inclined to simply “do nothing” rather than continue to scramble to raise the money from companies, wealthy friends or donors or file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy – which would in any case not rid him of debts accrued through fraud and definitively undermine his claims of being a billionaire businessman and therefore, potentially, his electoral appeal.

Assuming his legal team cannot secure a pause in the enforcement of the financial portion of the judgement in the meantime, allowing Monday’s deadline to pass would enable Ms James to begin taking charge of his assets and leave Mr Trump to gamble on him being able to recover them later via an appeal to the US Supreme Court.

“Even if there is a taking, it doesn’t mean he can’t take it back later,” the Trump source told the newspaper.

Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was also asked recently by CNN about which of Mr Trump’s properties he would most hate to lose and answered: “I think if it were to happen, 40 Wall Street is probably the one that he would, I mean, he would hate it.

“But I think if she tried to seize Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster or Trump Tower even, I mean, those are his babies.”

Asked in an interview with Fox News later on Wednesday whether Mr Trump could look to wealthy overseas donors in Russia or Saudi Arabia for help, Mr Trump’s attorney Alina Habba did not rule it out, stating instead that she could not discuss strategy.

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