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Trump legal news brief: Clerk files final $464 million fraud judgment against Trump, starting clock for him to pay up

In World
February 24, 2024

A clerk for the New York County Supreme Court enters in the judgment for former President Donald Trump’s financial fraud trial and New York Attorney General Letitia James submits paperwork that starts a 30-day countdown until Trump is forced to begin paying off the $464,576,230 civil judgment against him. Lawyers for Trump ask Judge Aileen Cannon to dismiss all criminal charges stemming from his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House on the grounds that he is “entitled to immunity” from being prosecuted. Here are the latest developments in the legal cases facing the former White House resident who is seeking to be reelected in 2024.

New York financial fraud

Key players: Judge Arthur Engoron, New York Attorney General Letitia James, Trump lawyer Christopher Kise

  • On Friday a clerk for the New York County Supreme Court entered the judgment in Trump’s financial fraud trial and James submitted a notice of entry, actions that started a 30-day deadline obliging Trump to begin paying off $464,576,230 in fines and interest imposed by Engoron, ABC News reported.

  • Trump now has 30 days to appeal Engoron’s ruling, but doing so will not get him off the hook from starting to pay off the money owed to the state. If he pursues an appeal, he will need to either post a bond or place cash into an escrow account that would cover the fines and interest.

  • But if Trump does not place the full amount of the fine in escrow, he must pay 9% interest on the judgment, which totals just over $3 million each and every month.

  • James has also said she would move to seize Trump’s assets should he fail to pay the judgment in the case.

  • Last week Kise told ABC that Trump “will of course appeal and remains confident the Appellate Division will ultimately correct the innumerable and catastrophic errors made by a trial court untethered to the law or to reality.”

  • In a message posted Friday on X, formerly known as Twitter, James reiterated Engoron’s verdict. “$464,576,230.62,” she wrote.

Why it matters: Even as Trump follows through with his appeal, the amount he could owe the state will continue to climb and he will be out a significant sum to cover his bond obligations. Should he lose on appeal, the accrued interest he could be forced to pay will rise into the millions.

Classified documents

Trump asks Judge Cannon to dismiss classified documents charges against him

Key players: Judge Aileen Cannon, special counsel Jack Smith, co-defendants Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira

  • On Thursday, Trump’s lawyers asked Cannon to dismiss the classified documents case against him, arguing that he is “entitled to immunity,” NBC News reported.

  • “President Trump’s alleged decision to designate records as personal under the PRA [Presidential Records Act] and cause them to be removed from the White House — which underlies Counts 1 through 32 of the Superseding Indictment — was an official act by the incumbent president,” Trump’s lawyers said in a court filing, adding, “President Trump is entitled to immunity for this official act and that must include immunity from criminal prosecution.”

  • A three-judge panel with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that presidential immunity does not protect Trump from being prosecuted for his efforts to overturn his loss to Joe Biden. Trump’s lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to delay that ruling from going into effect so that the full appeals court can hear the case.

  • In all, Trump’s lawyers filed four motions with Cannon, a Trump appointee, on Thursday seeking to have the charges against him dismissed.

  • Trump has pleaded not guilty to 40 felony counts including concealing or withholding documents and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Nauta, Trump’s personal valet, and De Oliveira, an IT specialist at Mar-a-Lago, have also been charged in the case.

  • On Thursday, De Oliveira’s lawyers also asked Cannon to dismiss the charges against him on the grounds that he did not obstruct justice because he was unaware the Justice Department was conducting an investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents when he helped the former president move boxes of them at Mar-a-Lago.

Why it matters: The crimes Smith has charged Trump with committing all took place after he left the White House and was no longer president. That would seem to present a larger hurdle for having criminal charges summarily dismissed than in the Jan. 6 election interference case, but Cannon has issued numerous rulings that have defied conventional legal expectations.

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Thursday, February 22

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Judge Arthur Engoron rejects a motion by former President Donald Trump that would have granted him a 30-day delay to begin paying the massive $355 million financial fraud judgment against him. That means that the interest on the fines continues to accrue. Here are the latest courtroom developments involving the former president who is hoping to be reelected to the White House in 2024.

New York financial fraud

Judge Engoron rejects Trump request to delay payment of $355 million judgment

Key players: Judge Arthur Engoron, New York Attorney General Letitia James, New York special counsel Andrew Amer

  • On Thursday, Engoron informed lawyers for the Trump family that he would not grant a 30-day delay to begin paying a massive $355 million judgment against Trump.

  • “You have failed to explain, much less justify, any basis for a stay,” Engoron wrote.

  • On Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers asked the judge for the delay, blaming James for not indicating when they should begin paying the massive fines, UPI reported.

  • “The attorney general has not filed any motion on notice, nor moved to settle the proposed judgment; her unseemly rush to memorialize a ‘judgment’ violates all accepted practice in New York state court,” Trump’s lawyers said.

  • James, in a Tuesday interview with ABC News, said that if Trump did not promptly fork over the millions in penalties imposed by Engoron, the state would look to seize his real estate assets.

  • “If he does not have funds to pay off the judgment, then we will seek judgment enforcement mechanisms in court, and we will ask the judge to seize his assets,” James said, adding, “We are prepared to make sure that the judgment is paid to New Yorkers, and yes, I look at 40 Wall Street [a Lower Manhattan Trump property] each and every day.”

  • In a letter to Engoron on Wednesday, Amer wrote that there was “no room for further debate” on when Trump should begin repaying the judgment.

  • In his ruling last week, Engoron also ordered Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr. to pay $4 million each, and he fined Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg $1 million.

  • Those amounts also include interest that continues to accrue each and every day the fines are not paid. Trump, for instance, is racking up $2.6 million in interest every month, Business Insider reported.

Why it matters: Trump is seeking to avoid paying any amount to the state as his appeal of Engoron’s judgment plays out. Engoron made clear Tuesday that he will not allow Trump to avoid paying a bond on the judgment, which will cost him millions up front. “I am confident that the Appellate Division will protect your appellate rights,” he wrote to Trump’s lawyers.

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Tuesday, February 19

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The U.S. Supreme Court rejects an appeal by pro-Trump lawyers Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and five others that challenged the sanctions issued by a district judge over their bogus claims that the 2020 election Michigan had been rigged against Trump. Powell and Wood are also expected to testify in the Georgia election interference case against Trump and 14 co-defendants. Here are the latest legal developments involving the former president hoping to be reelected to the White House in 2024.

Jan. 6 election interference

Supreme Court rejects appeal by Trump-aligned lawyers to dismiss sanctions in Michigan

Key players: Pro-Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, U.S. Supreme Court

  • On Tuesday, the Supreme Court let stand lower court sanctions against Powell, Wood and five others, the USA Today reported.

  • The high court did not offer any comment on its decision, which means Powell, Wood and the other defendants must pay a total of $132,693.75 to the city of Detroit and another $19,639.75 in legal fees to the state of Michigan.

  • In their unsuccessful effort to overturn the 2020 election results in Michigan, Powell, Wood and their co-defendants made wild claims in a lawsuit brought in the state alleging that Dominion voting machines were involved in fraud.

  • A district court judge ruled that the lawyers’ court challenges represented a “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”

  • The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals later upheld the bulk of the district court judge’s ruling, calling the fraud claims “simply baseless.”

  • In their appeal to the Supreme Court, the defendants continued to argue that they were simply pursuing “legitimate election challenges.”

  • Powell has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from her efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia and has agreed to testify against Trump and 14 others still charged there.

  • Dominion is suing Powell for $1.3 billion over her false claims that the company rigged the election against Trump.

  • Wood has been subpoenaed to testify in the Georgia case.

Why it matters: Trump and his co-defendants continue to argue that their attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election were not illegal. The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the sanctions against those lawyers who pushed conspiracy theories in battleground states shows that that might not be the case.

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