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Trump says he has nearly $500M cash, doesn’t want to use it to pay NY judgment

NEW YORK — Donald Trump claimed on Friday to have almost a half-billion dollars in cash but said he’d rather spend it on his presidential run than on the $454 million civil fraud judgment against him in New York. The former president vowed to fight the verdict “all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary” as the state gears up to potentially seize some of his assets if he doesn’t pay the hefty tab.

Trump has been trying to get a state appeals court to excuse him from a requirement that he provide financial guarantees showing he’s good for the money while he appeals the staggering verdict.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee didn’t provide any documentation for his cash claim, and his lawyers have suggested it’s not feasible to tie up so much cash on a bond while also keeping his businesses running and meeting other obligations. Among them, according to financial records: a condition on one of his property loans that he maintain a minimum liquidity of $30 million.

A Manhattan judge in February found that Trump repeatedly lied about his wealth on financial statements given to banks and others to secure loans and make deals. The judge ordered him to give up profits from certain real estate deals and money he saved by obtaining lower interest rates on loans. Trump denies that he tried to deceive anyone.

As recently as Thursday, Trump’s lawyers reiterated in court filings that they were having difficulty obtaining a bond covering the judgment because underwriters insisted on cash, stocks or other liquid assets instead of real estate as collateral. More than 30 bonding companies rejected their entreaties, they said.

Trump’s lawyers asked the state’s intermediate appeals court to reverse a prior ruling requiring that he post a bond covering the full amount to halt enforcement. New York Attorney General Letitia James has fought Trump’s request, urging the appeals court to require the full amount to ensure the state can easily access the money if the verdict is upheld.

May have to put up $557M

To obtain a bond, Trump’s lawyers said he would likely have to put up 120% of the judgment, or more than $557 million. The appeals court has yet to rule.

“I’ll fight this all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary,” Trump told Fox News Channel on Friday. Mischaracterizing the law, he added: “They can’t take away your property before you’ve had a chance to appeal.”

Because the fraud case was tried in state court, Trump would likely have to exhaust the state appeals process first or ask a federal court to take up the case, which is rare, to even have a chance bring his fight to the U.S. Supreme Court. A litigant who loses in a federal appeals court or in a state’s high court — in New York, called the Court of Appeals — may then file a petition for a writ of certiorari, which is a document asking the Supreme Court to review the case.

Contrary to Trump’s claim, seizing assets is a common legal tactic when someone can’t access enough cash to cover a civil penalty, even while an appeal is pending. Appealing doesn’t, in itself, halt collection. Barring court intervention, James would be well within her legal rights to initiate seizure of Trump’s property if he doesn’t pay.

‘Hard work, talent and luck’

In a post Friday on his Truth Social platform, Trump suggested he had enough cash to at least cover the judgment in full — but didn’t think he should have to spend it that way.

“Through hard work, talent, and luck, I currently have almost five hundred million dollars in cash,” he wrote in all caps, adding that he had planned to use “a substantial amount” on his presidential campaign.

Trump has never before suggested that he would contribute to his own 2024 campaign and has been soliciting contributions from outside donors since before he left the White House. When he ran in 2016, Trump repeatedly claimed that he was self-funding his campaign, even though he relied on donor funds.

“I don’t need anybody’s money,” he said in his announcement speech in 2015. “I’m using my own money. I’m not using the lobbyists, I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.”

In the end, Trump ended up spending about $66 million of his own cash in loans and contributions on that race — far less than the $100 million he frequently promised.

Whether Trump actually has nearly $500 million in cash, as he claimed, could become the subject of a future court battle over his assets. James, a Democrat, could start efforts to collect on the legal judgment she won against Trump as soon as Monday unless an appeals court intervenes.

James could seize some properties

James has said she is prepared to seek to seize some of Trump’s assets, though it wasn’t clear how quickly that might unfold. Her office has declined to comment on its plans.

Last April, Trump testified in a deposition in the civil fraud case that he had “substantially in excess of 400 million in cash,” but that was before he sold his rights to manage a New York City golf course to casino operator Bally’s for $60 million. Recently, Trump had to post a $91.6 million bond to keep from paying a $83.3 million defamation judgment to writer E. Jean Carroll while he pursues an appeal in that case.

Previously, on a June 30, 2021, financial statement, Trump reported having $293.8 million in cash and cash equivalents and an overall net worth of $4.5 billion.

Trump’s substantial personal wealth likely grew even more Friday when shareholders of a publicly traded shell company approved a deal to merge with his media business, which operates the social networking site Truth Social. Based on Thursday’s stock price, Trump’s stake in the company could be worth more than $3 billion, though rules could potentially prevent him from selling newly issued shares for at least six months.

Associated Press reporter Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

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