Trump’s lawyers say it is impossible for him to post bond covering $454 million civil fraud judgment

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures toward the crowd at a campaign rally Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Vandalia, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures toward the crowd at a campaign rally Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Vandalia, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

NEW YORK -- Donald Trump's lawyers told a New York appellate court Monday that it's impossible for him to post a bond covering the full amount of a $454 million civil fraud judgment while he appeals.

The former president's lawyers wrote in a court filing that "obtaining an appeal bond in the full amount" of the judgment "is not possible under the circumstances presented."

Trump's lawyers asked the state's intermediate appeals court to overturn a previous ruling requiring that he post a bond covering the full amount in order to halt enforcement while he appeals the judgment in New York Attorney General Letitia James' lawsuit.

With interest, Trump owes $456.8 million. In all, he and co-defendants, including his company, sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. and other executives, owe $467.3 million. To obtain a bond, they would be required to post collateral worth $557 million, Trump's lawyers said.

Trump is appealing Judge Arthur Engoron ruling in February that he, his company and top executives, including his sons, schemed for years to deceive banks and insurers by inflating his wealth on financial statements used to secure loans and make deals.

Among other penalties, the judge put strict limitations on the ability of Trump's company, the Trump Organization, to do business.

Trump has until March 25 to pay the judgment or obtain a court order known as a stay which would prevent enforcement while he is appealing. James, a Democrat, has said she will seek to seize some of Trump's assets if he is unable to pay.

James' office declined comment Monday on Trump's inability to secure a bond.

In a court filing last week, Senior Assistant Solicitor General Dennis Fan wrote that a full bond was necessary, in part, because Trump's lawyers "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."

Trump's lawyers asked the intermediate appeals court, the Appellate Division of the state's trial court, to consider oral arguments on its request, and they preemptively sought permission to appeal a losing result to the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals.

Trump is asking a full panel of the Appellate Division to stay the judgment while he appeals. His lawyers previously proposed posting a $100 million bond, but Appellate Division Judge Anil Singh rejected that after an emergency hearing on Feb. 28. A stay is a legal mechanism pausing collection of a judgment during an appeal.

Singh did grant some of Trump's requests, including pausing a three-year ban on him seeking loans from New York banks.

An insurance broker friend enlisted by Trump to assist in obtaining a bond wrote in an affidavit filed with the court that few bonding companies will consider issuing a bond of the size required.

The remaining bonding companies will not "accept hard assets such as real estate as collateral," but "will only accept cash or cash equivalents (such as marketable securities)."

"A bond of this size is rarely, if ever, seen. In the unusual circumstance that a bond of this size is issued, it is provided to the largest public companies in the world, not to individuals or privately held businesses," broker Gary Giulietti wrote.

Giulietti, who acts as an insurance broker for Trump's company, testified at Trump's civil fraud trial as an expert witness called by the former president's defense lawyers. In his ruling, Engoron observed that some of Giulietti's testimony was contradicted by other witnesses, including a different defense expert.

Engoron wrote that in his more than 20 years as a judge, he'd "never encountered an expert witness who not only was a close personal friend of a party, but also had a personal financial interest in the outcome of the case for which he is being offered as an expert." He noted that Giulietti's company collected $1.2 million in commissions on its Trump accounts in 2022.

Trump appealed on Feb. 26, a few days after the judgment was made official. His lawyers have asked the Appellate Division to decide whether Engoron "committed errors of law and/or fact" and whether he abused his discretion or "acted in excess" of his jurisdiction.

Trump wasn't required to pay his penalty or post a bond in order to appeal, and filing the appeal did not automatically halt enforcement of the judgment.

Trump would receive an automatic stay if he were to put up money, assets or an appeal bond covering what he owes. He also had the option, which he's now exercising, to ask the appeals court to grant a stay with a bond for a lower amount.

Trump maintains that he is worth several billion dollars and testified last year that he had about $400 million in cash, in addition to properties and other investments.

In January, a jury ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her after she accused him in 2019 of sexually assaulting her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. Trump recently posted a bond covering that amount while he appeals.

That's in addition to the $5 million a jury awarded Carroll in a related trial last year. Trump has put more than $5.5 million in an escrow account while he appeals that decision.