Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Trump Legal News: Good Times, Bad Times

There was much action on the Trump legal front yesterday, as he got one piece of good news and one piece of bad news.

We'll start with Trump's good news, although most readers have probably already heard it by now. The five judges that heard the appeal of his bond ruled that he does not have to come up with the full amount, and that $175 million will be satisfactory.

This decision is, according to the numerous New York legal experts who were all over TV yesterday, out of the ordinary. Normally, a person has to pony up, and there's no mercy. One would think this would be doubly true just a day after the defendant bragged that he absolutely has $500 million in the bank. But once again, the Donald has pulled some Trump-Fu out of his MAGA hat, and bent the legal process (partly) to his will.

There are many people out there who are angry about this news, including many of our readers. We know because we read the e-mails we get. For those folks, we'll point out five things:

  1. While most people who get hit with this kind of judgment are at least somewhat liquid, Trump clearly is not, despite his braggadocio over the weekend. If he's forced to sell half a billion dollars in property at a discount, and he somehow wins on appeal, he can't go back and re-buy that real estate at bargain prices. No, he'd be permanently damaged. So, there's at least some justification for easing up on him.

  2. He only has 10 days to come up with the money, and at that point the reduction would no longer be available and he'd have to come up with the full amount.

  3. Even at $175 million, he might have trouble coming up with the funds.

  4. He's still being charged interest on the full sum, to the tune of $112,000 per day (and $3.5 million in total, to date).

  5. If you agree with Frank Luntz that the "victim" narrative could serve to rally the MAGA crowd, well, the consideration he's being shown is going to make that a harder sell.

So, this "good" news does come with some caveats.

And as long as we are on the subject, quite a few readers wrote in yesterday to question our note that Mar-a-Lago is not likely to be seized, as it is protected by Florida's homestead law. What it boils down to is that Florida's homestead law is very homeowner-friendly, and says that if a person lives in a Florida residence for 1,215 days or more, that is their home and it cannot be seized to satisfy a judgment. Meanwhile, Trump made a deal back in 2002 with the city of Palm Beach that Mar-a-Lago would NOT be a residence, and would only be used as a social club. So, if Mar-a-Lago was targeted for seizure, AG Letitia James would first have to go to court and successfully argue that Trump's agreement with Palm Beach overrides Florida state law. That's a tough hill to climb, especially since James is not based in Florida and so is not versed in the relevant law. Given these difficulties, it is fair to say that while Mar-a-Lago is very symbolic, it's near the bottom of James' list, and even if she tries for it, she's likely to fail.

Moving along to the bad news for Trump, Judge Juan Merchan dealt him a double whammy in the New York hush-money case. First, Merchan said he absolutely was not buying the argument that prosecutors in the office of Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg had engaged in professional misconduct and deserved to be sanctioned. The Judge fairly well read Trump lawyer Todd Blanche the riot act, while the former president sat in the room and took it all in.

Second, and more importantly, Merchan said that he sees no need for further delays, and that the trial will begin on April 15. So, there's a very decent chance Trump will be a convicted felon by mid-May. While we tend to doubt that this particular conviction will hurt him, in and of itself, the line "He's already a convicted felon and he has three more trials to go" could be a useful weapon in the hands of Joe Biden and his surrogates.

Trump was, of course, furious about Merchan's decision, and was all over Truth Social whining and moaning about unfair treatment and the deep state and blah, blah, blah. Is anyone still listening to this stuff at this point? Even the True Believers? In any case, all the kvetching on Earth did not help Trump in his fraud case, and it's not going to help him here, we think. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates