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Trump has dodged financial calamity – for the time being | Lloyd Green


Donald Trump dodged financial calamity on Monday. The office of Letitia James, the New York attorney general, and lawyers for Trump reached agreement in open court on the terms governing the appellate bond posted by the former president. After nearly an hour of argument and an extended recess, the parties achieved a workable solution. It is a ray of sunshine in Trump’s otherwise bleak legal landscape.

Trump would be required to leave $175m in cash only as collateral for the bond. Mutual funds or other securities will not suffice. In addition, the brokerage account holding the funds would fall under the exclusive control of the bonding company.

Trump would no longer maintain any authority over the account. In turn, James remains barred from enforcing her $454m judgment against Trump and his businesses. For those keeping score, Trump is now out-of-pocket in a neighborhood north of a quarter of a billion dollars and counting.

His pretense of being cash-rich is soiled. In March, he shelled out for a separate $91.63m bond while he appeals the $83.3m verdict in the latest E Jean Carroll defamation case. Earlier, he paid another $4m into court to block Carroll from collecting a prior defamation judgment, also on appeal.

The stock price of Trump Media & Technology Group – his eponymous meme stock, DJT – is in the doldrums. Politico also reports that Save America, a Trump-controlled Pac, has already spent $59m on his legal fees and may run shortly out of money.

Beyond that, Trump World tussles with Ken Griffin, a major Republican donor and the chief of Citadel Securities, a leading Wall Street market-maker. Last Thursday, Devin Nunes – the former Republican congressman who resigned from the House to run Trump’s media company – wrote to the head of the Nasdaq, raising the issue of “potential market manipulation” of DJT stock and blasting “naked short-selling”.

Griffin, whose wealth is estimated at a cool $37bn, quickly struck back. He branded Nunes a “proverbial loser” whom Trump “would have fired on the Apprentice”. He also accused the humorless Californian of trying to deflect blame for DJT’s lackluster stock price.

The hush-money trial in Manhattan, however, is presently Trump’s greatest fear. On Monday, the case finally kicked off with opening arguments. David Pecker, of the National Enquirer, will reportedly be the prosecution’s first witness – but not the witness likely to garner the most attention. Not even close.

Stormy Daniels, the adult film star, will eventually take center stage, with assists from Hope Hicks, an ex-senior Trump White House aide, and Karen McDougal, a Playboy model and one-time playmate of the year. Testimony by Daniels and McDougal will likely turn graphic.

According to reports, Hicks has already met with prosecutors. Purportedly, she was involved in negotiations aimed at preventing Daniels from publicly disclosing her alleged trysts with Melania’s husband and Ivanka’s dad. For the record, neither woman is expected to attend the trial.

The criminal case also involves alleged hush-money payments to McDougal. She too claims that she had sex with Trump, albeit “many dozens of times”.

“I was in love with him. He was in love with me,” she said in a 2019 interview. I know that because he told me all the time.”

“He’d say, ‘You’re my baby and I love you.’ He showed me off to his friends.”

The sincerity of Trump’s purported displays of extramarital affection may likely be met with disbelief by at least one jury member. In court, the juror disclosed that she thought Trump to be “very selfish and self-serving”.

Last Friday, Juan Merchan, the trial judge, looked at Trump and sternly announced: “Sir, can you please have a seat.” To some, it sounded as if Merchan were talking to an unruly dog. On Monday, the court ruled that if Trump takes the witness stand, he may be cross-examined over past bad acts.

Don’t hold your breath on Trump testifying in his own defense. It would likely be embarrassing, if not necessarily perjurious.

The emcee of Mar-a-Lago stands diminished. Together, all this may be straining his coping mechanisms, wallet and poll numbers. In contrast, Joe Biden demonstrates renewed political vitality. On Saturday, he scored a major legislative victory, a foreign aid package that bolstered Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. Punchbowl’s headline blared: “Attention House GOP: Biden is the winner”.

Looking back, when Trump complained to Randall Stephenson, then CEO of AT&T, of women being the bane of his existence he wasn’t far off. Among female voters, Trump consistently trails Biden by double-digits. Meanwhile, James stands ever ready to separate the man from his money.

“For the next six weeks, a man who values control and tries to shape environments and outcomes to his will is in control of very little,” wrote Maggie Haberman. His image as a pugnacious rule breaker will likely get dinged. “Vagina is expensive”, Trump once reportedly told radio shock-jock Howard Stern.

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