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Trump asks New York court to delay enforcement of judgment pending appeal

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NEW YORK — Former president Donald Trump asked a New York court on Wednesday to delay enforcement of a judgment against him totaling at least $450 million while he appeals that order, which his attorneys assailed as an “unprecedented and punitive” punishment.

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron this month ordered Trump to pay the massive penalties after concluding that he and others had given false data to financial institutions so they could borrow money at lower rates.

In court filings on Wednesday, attorneys for Trump and other defendants in the case asked for an interim stay of Engoron’s judgment. The attorneys offered to post a $100 million bond rather than a fuller bond amount that they suggested could top $500 million.

They also took broad aim at Engoron’s judgment, saying he imposed a “facially absurd” financial penalty as part of “a zealous quest to inflict untoward punishment” in the case.

During a hearing on Wednesday discussing the stay request, Christopher Kise, an attorney for Trump, said handing over that sizable amount of cash would be a hurdle for even the country’s wealthiest residents.

“No one, including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Donald Trump, has five hundred million laying around,” Kise said. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

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The case had originated with a civil lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), who accused Trump and other defendants — including his adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, and the Trump Organization, the family company — of committing a years-long financial fraud.

Engoron heard the case without a jury, then released his decision on Feb. 16. He ordered Trump to pay more than $354 million in penalties, plus interest — putting the final amount at more than $450 million.

How Justice Engoron’s numbers add up for Trump’s penalty in the N.Y. fraud trial

The hearing on Wednesday was before Associate Justice Anil C. Singh in the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division. A decision on the request is expected to come later Wednesday.

James’s office pushed back on the request, writing that there was “no merit” to the suggestion that posting a portion of the judgment would be sufficient. Instead, her office wrote, there was “substantial risk that defendants will attempt to evade enforcement of the judgment (or make enforcement more difficult) following appeal.”

During the hearing Wednesday, Dennis Fan, an attorney speaking for James’s office, depicted Trump’s side as trying to wiggle out of giving up control of assets without saying they could not afford the full bond.

“I think if you read between the lines, what they’re saying is we don’t want to put up the collateral,” Fan said.

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Engoron’s decision in the case also included other penalties beyond the financial sanctions. Among other things, he blocked Trump and his sons from serving in top jobs with New York corporations for years and mandated additional oversight for the Trump Organization.

In their court filings Wednesday, attorneys for defendants in the case said Engoron’s “draconian” punishments exceed his available authority and would impede “a global real estate empire in the conduct of lawful business.”

These attorneys also argued against the years-long bans blocking Trump and his adult sons from top jobs with New York corporations. Engoron banned Trump from such a role for three years, and he blocked Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump for two years each. Their attorneys contended in filings Wednesday that this would force the company “to operate without leadership until this appeal is resolved.”

Clock is ticking for Trump to post bonds worth half a billion dollars

But the mammoth financial penalty in the case drew the widest notice. Engoron’s decision, coupled with a separate $83.3 million judgment Trump also faces following an unrelated defamation case, means the former president faces a significant cash crunch. Legal experts say that to keep the judgments from being enforced amid appeals, Trump must put up the entire amount in cash or bonds. Much of Trump’s wealth is entwined with real estate, so it remains unclear how much cash he has available or how he could put up the money.

In court filings Wednesday, attorneys for Trump and the other defendants depicted Engoron’s punishment as wildly excessive, and they took issue with the biting criticism that accompanied it. Engoron wrote in his decision that the defendants’ “complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological.” Attorneys for the defendants responded Wednesday by writing that they were punished severely because they “did not grovel and apologize” at trial.

The attorneys wrote Wednesday that they planned to “secure and post a bond in the amount of $100 million.” An appeal bond, they wrote, would include the amount of the judgment, along with costs and interests during the appeal process. A bond amount in this case, they suggested, could wind up topping $550 million.

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Also on Wednesday, a letter containing a powder was sent to Engoron’s courthouse. A person with knowledge of the situation said that preliminary tests on the powder to see if it contained hazardous substances were negative.

Berman reported from Washington.

Source: Washington Post

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