N.Y. Attorney General Questions Trump’s Claim That He Can’t Get a Bond

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
New York Attorney General Letitia James arrives at the State Supreme Court of New York in Manhattan to hear former president Donald Trump testify in his civil fraud case in November.

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday urged an appeals court not to believe Donald Trump’s recent assertion that he is unable to secure a bond for more than $450 million to satisfy the civil business-fraud judgment against him.

Earlier this week, attorneys for the former president and likely 2024 Republican nominee said his team had approached 30 surety companies through four brokers and failed to secure an appeal bond for such a large amount. They argued that surety companies are generally unable to underwrite bonds that large, and said the companies told Trump they cannot accept real estate assets as collateral.

If Trump does not post a bond as he appeals the civil judgment against him, James’s office could begin the process of seizing his assets – including major New York properties such as 40 Wall Street and Trump Tower.

It is unclear how soon such an enforcement effort would begin, but James allowed a 30-day grace period that ends Monday. She has signaled that she was prepared to seize assets if Trump’s fine is not paid. Posting a bond to cover the judgment would block James from seizing assets until the appeal is resolved.

On Wednesday, Dennis Fan, a lawyer for James, told the appeals court that Trump’s claims of striking out with insurance companies are not reliable because they are based on sworn statements from Gary Giulietti, a personal friend of Trump’s, and from Alan Garten, general counsel at the Trump Organization.

Fan wrote that New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who oversaw James’s civil trial against Trump, decided Giulietti was not a credible witness. He argued that Garten was involved in the conduct at issue and “has professional interests in this litigation.”

“The court found no such thing. The AG statement is reckless and completely untrue,” Garten said in response to the filing. The trial court judge’s decision did not explicitly find that Garten engaged in illegal conduct but refers to trial testimony that described Garten as someone involved in discussions about Trump’s financial statements at certain points.

Christopher Kise, an attorney for Trump, said James’s filing misrepresents facts and the relevant law. “The Attorney General also includes a baseless, malicious and defamatory assault on [Garten] who had no role in any of the transactions or matters at issue,” he said.

Trump, his company, and several current and former executives – excluding Garten – were sued by James in 2022 for allegedly inflating the value of Trump’s real estate and other assets by up to $2.2 billion a year from 2011 to 2021. James accused them of providing false statements to lenders and insurance companies in an effort to increase Trump’s profits and savings.

Earlier this year, Engoron found Trump and the other defendants, including his adult sons, civilly liable for committing illegal acts and defrauding business partners by providing deceptive asset values.

Engoron ordered Trump to pay more than $350 million, plus roughly $100 million in interest, which is still accruing. Securing a bond would carry other costs as well.

Trump, who built his reputation on his success in the business world, recently posted a $91 million bond to stay enforcement of an $83.3 million judgment against him in a 2019 defamation case brought against him by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll. His team has suggested an inability to post bonds for more than $100 million, and has asked an appeals panel to allow a bond for the business fraud judgment in that amount.

The panel could rule on that request at any time.

Trump’s side has said a bond for $450 million is not necessary to ensure the judgment will get paid because a court-ordered monitor will continue to oversee finances at the company and no transaction can proceed without the monitor’s approval.