What to Know About Trump’s Cash as He Faces Penalties of $537 Million

This is a moment of financial truth for Donald Trump.

The former president, who has lost two recent civil cases, is under pressure to find enough cash to stave off enormous asset seizures while he appeals judgments against him totaling at least $537 million.

One, $454 million, was imposed by a New York state judge last month in Trump’s civil fraud trial. The other, $83.3 million, was awarded in January by a federal jury in a defamation case brought by writer E. Jean Carroll.

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Trump has long bragged he is a billionaire many times over. While much of his wealth is tied up in real estate, he testified under oath less than a year ago that he had “substantially in excess of $400 million in cash.” And after last month’s verdict, Alina Habba, one of Trump’s lawyers, said he is worth “billions and billions and billions of dollars” and “happens to have a lot of cash.”

But a filing Wednesday by Habba and other lawyers raised questions about just how liquid he actually is. They offered a New York appeals court a bond of only $100 million while he appeals. Trump’s lawyers said that to secure the full $454 million set by Judge Arthur Engoron, he would probably need to sell properties.

Unless the appeals court cuts him a break, in each case Trump would have to post cash or a bond in the full amount, plus an additional percentage to account for interest. If he fails, New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the fraud cause, has warned she will move quickly to seize some of his buildings.

How much cash does Trump have?

Trump has been exaggerating his net worth for decades and his company, the Trump Organization, is privately held. That means it is not subject to the same scrutiny as public corporations like Apple or Microsoft.

Trump’s current cash position is most likely known only by a handful of people inside his orbit.

In early 2017, as Trump was preparing to leave for the White House, his reserves were running low, according to prosecutors with the attorney general’s office: He had roughly $86 million in cash, $26 million of which was tied up in a partnership and not readily accessible. That was significantly less than in previous years, documents show.

Since then, Trump has sold assets, including his license to operate a golf course in New York City and a lease on a hotel in Washington, D.C. His proceeds from the hotel lease alone were roughly $130 million before taxes, according to a document filed in James’ case.

That is big money, but there are a lot of real and potential demands on Trump. He needs to fund the daily operations of his businesses, many of which have lost money over the years and have themselves required one-time cash infusions.

And Trump for years was fighting the IRS over an audit, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and published in 2020. It is unknown whether the audit is resolved, but at the time it was estimated that an unfavorable ruling could cost him more than $100 million.

Can he post assets for the bonds?

Trump’s lawyers have said they plan to seek a bond, rather than post cash, as they proceed with their appeals.

An appeal bond is a guarantee filed with the court by a financial institution that promises that a judgment will be paid. But appeal bonds are risky, and a company providing one would be on the hook if Trump loses.

Defendants usually pay steep fees to the company, as much as 3% of the bond, and must provide collateral for the full amount. Firms usually require primarily cash, stocks and bonds: things that can be liquidated quickly.

In New York, a defendant typically also owes 9% interest to the plaintiff until the judgment is paid or the appeal resolved, an amount reflected in the size of the bond.

A 2023 public filing on Trump’s finances showed that he had investments, including stocks and bonds, worth hundreds of millions of dollars that he could pledge as collateral, assuming he still owns them. Their exact value is not known, because he was only required to list the value in a broad range. He also could sell a building to free up cash, but that could take months; he is required to post cash or a bond in both cases in a matter of weeks.

Trump also owns a stake in Trump Media & Technology Group, his social media company, which could be worth as much as $4 billion if a long-delayed merger closes this month. But Trump’s shares are subject to a lockup period and come with market and other risks, making them unattractive collateral.

What comes next?

On Wednesday, a single appellate judge turned down Trump’s request for relief in the fraud case. This month he will get another chance when his lawyers are heard by a panel of five appellate court judges. For now he is required to post cash or a bond by March 25.

Then there are the cases involving Carroll.

Trump already has deposited about $5.6 million with the Manhattan federal court while he appeals a verdict last May in which a jury awarded her $5 million after finding Trump sexually abused her decades ago and then defamed her in a 2022 social media post.

But Trump’s lawyers last month asked a judge, Lewis Kaplan, to delay the execution of the January $83.3 million judgment until the resolution of Trump’s post-trial motions. Trump has about a week remaining to post a bond.

Trump’s lawyers in a filing Feb. 23 said their motions would focus on the “excessiveness” of the award. They argued that it would require “a sizable bond which will come with very substantial, nonrecoverable financial costs.”

“These costs plainly constitute irreparable injury,” his lawyers wrote.

As an alternative, Trump’s lawyers asked the judge to let Trump post a bond “in a fraction of the amount” of the judgment until the motions are resolved.

Carroll’s lawyers urged the judge in a filing Thursday to deny the request.

They argued that Trump had offered no information about his finances or the nature and location of his assets; he had not specified what percentage of his assets were liquid or explained how Carroll might go about collecting; and he did not address the risks from the separate judgment obtained by James’ office or the 91 felony charges Trump faces “that might end his career as a businessman permanently.”

“He simply asks the court to ‘trust me,’” Carroll’s lawyers wrote, “and offers, in a case with an $83.3 million judgment against him, the court filing equivalent of a paper napkin, signed by the least trustworthy of borrowers.”

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