Dem 51
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GOP 49
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The Clock Is Ticking for Trump

Now that Donald Trump has put away South Carolina easily, he can get back to more prosaic things—like finding about $530 million in cash or bonds so he can appeal his losses in the New York State bank fraud case and the E. Jean Carroll defamation case. Court rules in civil cases are that in order to keep the judgment from being enforced while filing an appeal, the appellant has to put up the amount of the judgment in cash or as a third-party bond. Time is running out. In the Carroll case, Trump has just 2 weeks to come up with $83 million. In the bank fraud case, the judgment was finalized on Friday at $454 million, with interest accruing at the rate of $112,000 a day. Where will he find the money? It's complicated.

Trump is thought to have something like $400 million in cash due to the sale of his hotel in D.C. and the Ferry Point golf course in New York. That won't be enough, even if he uses all of it. And he can't use all of it because he needs some free cash for maintenance, repairs, etc. at his myriad properties. Given his track record of stiffing vendors, anyone doing work for him is going to demand full payment in advance. Furthermore, in the past, some of his loan contracts required that he keep $50 million cash in the bank at all times and maintain a net worth of $2.5 billion. It is not known if any of his current loans have conditions like that, but they are likely to. The Washington Post believes that Trump's biggest lender now is the online Axos Bank, since no regular bank will touch him anymore. He has loans totalling $250 million outstanding with Axos and the bank might not be interested in lending him more money after he was found liable for defrauding banks.

Trump might be bailed out if the merger of his media company and the Digital World Acquisition Company happens, but he may not be allowed to sell any of his 79 million shares for 6 months after the deal closes and he needs the money within 4 weeks. Also, selling a large chunk of stock could cause the stock price to collapse. He might be able to borrow from a bank using the stock as collateral, although the stock is thinly traded and the price could be volatile, making it a risky loan for the bank.

On top of all this, there is about to be a major leadership change at the Trump Organization, with Trump barred from running the company for 3 years and his kids for 2 years. What will a new CEO discover when he takes over and begins examining the books? That could affect Trump's net worth and potentially his loan conditions.

The usual situation in civil cases is to go to a surety company and have them place the bond in return for a fee. But any surety company has to consider the possibility that Trump could lose his appeals, refuse to pay his debts, and be in the White House when the poop hits the ventilator. Could they sue a sitting president? If so, could he drag the process out for years? How much collateral would a surety company demand in order to have a deal? And knowing Trump's propensity for suing all his business partners, it might demand terms that Trump found unacceptable. He is thought to be investigating the possibility of having multiple surety companies involved, to reduce the exposure each one has. But getting multiple companies to work together is also complicated. For example, would they get shares in some building(s) as collateral? How would that work? Each company might have a different idea of how to structure the deal to make sure it would get paid back if Trump defaulted. And remember, Trump has only 30 days to pull this off.

One possibility that Trump is no doubt investigating is whether his friends Vladimir Putin and Mohammed bin Salman could pony up, since $530 million is chump change for both of them. Needless to say, having the president being deeply in debt to foreign dictators is problematical, to say the least, but Trump may end up with no other choice. (V)

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