Here’s what will happen if Trump can’t get a 4 million bond
Here’s what will happen if Trump can’t get a 4 million bond



CNN

Donald Trump’s legal team and the New York attorney general’s office are working hard ahead of the former president’s Monday deadline to secure bail for his multimillion-dollar civil fraud conviction.

Trump personally owes more than $454 million stemming from the judgment handed down by Judge Arthur Engoron in February. The figure rises to $463.9 million when it includes money owed by his sons Eric and Donald Jr., the Trump Organization and interest accrued to the date of the judgment.

Experts who spoke to CNN say Attorney General Leticia James and her team should be ready to begin the complex legal maze of seizing Trump’s assets if the former president does not provide the bonds needed to cover Engoron’s decision while he appeals .

Assets such as buildings, houses, cars, helicopters and his plane are in play. The main focus may be on his bank accounts, which experts say will be easier to seize, and properties, which would be more difficult.

Trump has asked a state appeals court to allow him to post a smaller bond — or none at all — arguing that he would face irreparable harm if forced to sell properties at a fire sale that cannot be overturned if he ultimately wins his appeal. The court has not yet ruled.

Here’s what happens if Trump can’t secure the bond:

Seizure of bank accounts and cash

In theory, officials could begin the complex legal process to seize his assets, barring any other strategic legal maneuvers by state prosecutors and countering Trump’s legal team. Officials will have to consider what assets they want to take, whether it’s his bank accounts or his properties. Experts believe that the first action should be to freeze his bank accounts.

“The banks are the easy part, they’ll get the decision from the attorney general — the court order — and then the banks will comply,” said attorney Peter Katz, a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York who has handled fraud cases. “They take the funds from the account and put them into the accounts of the Attorney General. The other things are a little more challenging.”

Taking money from Trump’s accounts requires state prosecutors to ask a New York sheriff or US marshal to go to the main branch of any bank holding Trump’s money, armed with a warrant.

“They come in and give it to the manager,” said Adam Pollock, a former New York state assistant attorney general who now specializes in judgment enforcement at Pollock Cohen LLP. “The manager must immediately pay over the amount. Must be a cashier’s check.

Any supposed extra time taken by the attorney general’s office can only be part of determining the right strategy.

“They’re trying to get their ducks in a row. They want to find the most liquid assets they can hedge immediately. A bank account is the most efficient way to do it,” said attorney Alden B. Smith, who specializes in debt collection. “They’re probably just deciding what the best course of action is.”

What about buildings and businesses?

Foreclosure takes much longer.

Once state prosecutors know what property they want to take, they give the sheriff’s office the warrant, along with a $350 fee, Pollock said. The sheriff then posts the property notice in three places, and the attorney general’s office must post it four times, Pollack said. Then, after 63 days from the date of the sheriff’s writ, a public auction is held for the property, according to Pollock.

“They could say ‘turn over ownership of these 500 corporations and LLCs to the sheriff for public auction,’ or enough to satisfy the judgment or $455 million,” Pollock said.

The seizure process will be more difficult with Trump’s out-of-state properties, so state prosecutors have already taken some legal action to get the ball rolling in New York.

The attorney general’s office issued the convictions in Westchester County, north of New York, in what some say is the first sign the state is laying the groundwork to seize the former president’s golf course at Briarcliff Estate, as well as his private estate known as Seven Springs.

State attorneys entered the judgments in the Westchester County Clerk’s Office on March 6, just one week after Engoron’s ruling.

No other lawsuits have been filed, but the lawsuit could play out in other states where Trump has assets, most notably Mar-a-Lago in Florida, though other properties may be less challenging to take.

“The attorney general’s office is the largest firm in the state of New York, if you think of it as a law firm. The firm has no attorneys in Florida. I would see foreclosures in New York before you see anything in Florida, Pollack said.

A key legal battle could be how much of Mar-a-Lago counts as a Trump home that can be protected by law.

“At the base it may be the extension of the homestead. But that has to be done in court,” Pollock said.

Trump is still waiting to see if the appeals court will either reduce the amount he must pay as part of the judgment or stay enforcement of the judgment while his appeal is heard.

If he doesn’t win his appeal, bankruptcy remains an option, albeit one the former president is reluctant to pursue.

“You don’t want him to declare bankruptcy, then the debt will be discharged,” Smith said. “If he files for bankruptcy, the decision is automatically postponed. Bankruptcy is the biggest enemy of foreclosures for lawyers.”

If Trump doesn’t come up with the money, his options shrink significantly.

“I don’t see any other way for him to stop the process without going bankrupt or getting bail,” Smith said.

Trump and his team could sell smaller properties as a way to try to pay off the debt.

“At the end of the day, he’s going to do anything before he lets Tish James put a metaphorical padlock on 40 Wall Street,” Harry Littman, a former deputy assistant attorney general, told CNN on Friday.

As the clock is about to run out, some experts are questioning why a grace period was given at all.

“There is no reason for civility when he owes $455 million to the people of New York State after being found permanently liable for fraud,” Pollock said. “That’s not someone you usually show kindness to.”

The former president posted on Truth Social Friday that he currently has almost $500 million in cash that he intends to use for his campaign and said James “wants to take it away from him.”

“THROUGH HARD WORK, TALENT AND LUCK, I CURRENTLY HAVE ALMOST FIVE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS IN CASH, A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF WHICH I INTENDED TO USE IN MY CAMPAIGN FOR PRESIDENT.” OFTEN OVERCOME POLITICAL HACK JUDGE IN MASQUERADE & CORRUPT AG CASE WHERE I DID NOTHING WRONG I KNEW THAT I WANTED TO TAKE IT AWAY,” Trump posted in all caps.

His lawyer, Chris Kise, told CNN that Trump, however, was not referring to the available money.

“What he’s talking about is the money reported on his campaign disclosure forms that he built up over the years of owning and running a successful business,” Kise told CNN on Friday. This is exactly the money Letitia James and the Democrats are after.”

Trump also recently had to post nearly $92 million in bail to satisfy the judgment against him in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case while he appeals.

Littman told CNN he probably has less money than Trump says because of the fraud ruling. Either way, he added, it was a crushing blow to the former president.

“It’s like a company that suddenly has no chairs, no furniture, no accounts receivable, or nothing. I think this is really the end of the day for the Trump Organization in New York,” Littman said. “It’s an ugly, ugly situation for him, even if it’s half right.”

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