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Trump Legal News: Sixteen Tons

"You load 16 tons, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt." And so it is that Tennessee Ernie Ford makes yet another appearance on this site this week. Donald Trump has a newfound understanding of that old coal miner's lament, thanks to the ruling issued by Judge Arthur Engoron yesterday. That said, it is improbable that any coal miner ever found themselves in the sort of half-billion-dollar hole that Trump now finds himself in.

Where does that half-billion-dollar figure come from? Well, to start, Engoron hit Trump for $355 million in penalties. This is the figure that appears in just about every headline today. However, that overlooks the fact that the former president was also ordered to pay interest on his ill-gotten gains. That is expected to push the actual figure up to something like $450 million. And then, on top of that, he's got $88.8 million in E. Jean Carroll verdicts against him. So, he's looking at a total hit of $530 million or so. Oh, and per Engoron's order, Trump also cannot do business in New York for the next 3 years.

And The Donald wasn't the only one to get popped yesterday. His two elder sons, Don Jr. and Eric, each have to pay $4 million and are barred from doing business in New York for 2 years. And former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg has to pay $1 million. So, it was a bad day for Team Trump—just about as bad as it could have been, as AG Letitia James was asking for $370 million plus interest. That means, thanks in no small part to the Trumps' ill-advised approach to the trial, the prosecution got more than 95% of what it wanted. If there are any questions as to whether or not Engoron was influenced by the former president's behavior, well, in his ruling, the Judge described Trump as having a "complete lack of contrition and remorse: that "borders on pathological." So yeah, he was influenced by Trump's behavior.

Trump has vowed, of course, to appeal all three of the judgments against him. However, in order to do that, he has to put the money he currently owes in an escrow account. Does he have half a billion in cash laying around? That seems improbable. He's likely going to have to sell some assets. Whether or not he is going to be required to sell New York assets, like Trump Tower, to honor the "no business in New York for 3 years" part of the ruling, we do not know.

Of course, Trump could get a loan to cover his liabilities, but he's not going to be able to find a bank to do business with him. He's burned all those bridges, and besides, what bank would give money to a guy so he can pay the judgments levied against him for defrauding banks? He might be able to find a billionaire supporter who is unconcerned about putting their money at risk, and is willing to help out for political reasons. For what it is worth, Elon Musk flew into West Palm Beach yesterday. Make of that what you will.

Will this have an impact on Trump politically? We doubt it will have a direct impact, in that it's hard to believe there were people who were ready to vote for him Thursday, but are off the bandwagon now. A criminal conviction might have that effect, but we just don't see a civil judgment doing it.

However, there probably will be an indirect impact, in that there's only so much money in the Trump pot, and he's got a LOT of expenses right now. There are the judgments, of course, and millions in legal fees every month. And there's also the costs of running a presidential campaign. He just isn't going to have enough to go around, and something will have to suffer. Presumably, that will be the presidential campaign. There's also an excellent chance that his donations will take a downward turn, if the base believes that their money is just going to be spent on things other than getting him re-elected. We will certainly be looking forward to the Q2 fundraising reports with enormous interest. Which is appropriate, because enormous interest is exactly what Trump will be paying. (Z)

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