Trump’s legal wins and losses: 5 takeaways

Trump’s legal wins and losses: 5 takeaways

Former President Trump’s legal troubles crowded in on him Monday.

One court weighed the size of the bond he should have to post in his civil fraud case, while separately, the judge in his New York hush money case considered protests lodged by his legal team.

The upshot was a split decision, with the bond question being resolved quite favorably for the former president, while the judge in the hush money case stood firm on a trial date.

Here are the main takeaways.

Trump’s big win: Appeals court eases bond requirements

The most pressing issue decided Monday went Trump’s way.

The former president had been under enormous pressure to raise a bond for his civil fraud trial after the original $455 million judgment against him and other defendants last month.

Trump is appealing that verdict, and such appeals are usually contingent upon a bond being posted for the full amount of the original judgment, plus interest. That total is a sum of almost half a billion dollars.

Trump’s legal team protested that this bond requirement was overly onerous — and acknowledged that he was having real difficulty finding any institution willing to underwrite such a huge sum.

The former president himself had vociferously complained about the chances of New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) seizing his assets.

But those chances declined markedly Monday when a New York appeals court cut the size of the required bond by almost two-thirds and gave the former president an extra 10 days to come up with it.

The new requirement asks for a $175 million bond.

Trump swiftly announced that he would “abide by the decision.” His uncharacteristically cooperative tone underlined the degree to which this marks a sizable victory for him.

A seizure of assets, had it occurred, would have been a hammer blow to Trump’s self-image as a business mogul.

Trump’s big loss: Hush money trial set for April 15

Delay has been at the heart of Trump’s legal and political strategy in the four criminal cases against him.

His bet appears to be that pushing the date of his trials past November’s election could stave off the possibility of serious damage with voters. If Trump wins the election, he can also pardon himself in federal cases, if convicted, or order the Department of Justice to cease its pursuit of him.

But the delay tactic hit a snag Monday, when Judge Juan Merchan was unmoved by claims from Trump’s team that the former president’s New York trial should be pushed back.

Instead, Merchan reiterated that the trial should begin less than a month from now, on April 15.

Trump’s demands for delay centered on new documents that have recently come to light. Trump’s lawyers claimed the delay amounted to prosecutorial misconduct and that they needed significant time to review the new material.

Merchan was dismissive of both arguments.

Trump is accused of 34 counts of falsifying business records — something that prosecutors contend was done to bury separate claims from adult actress Stormy Daniels and former model Karen McDougal that Trump had sexual relationships with them.

Trump denies any wrongdoing.

The New York case can be plausibly seen as the least serious of the four Trump faces.

But the charges are felonies, and the trial itself — whether it ends in acquittal or conviction — is guaranteed to put embarrassing details in the headlines as the election campaign heats up.

Trump’s New York nemesis sees silver lining

Letitia James has often been in Trump’s rhetorical crosshairs during her long legal pursuit of the former president.

On Monday, James was at pains to point out that the reduction in the bond does nothing to change the fundamentals of the verdict against Trump.

In a statement to the media, a spokesperson for James emphasized that “Donald Trump is still facing accountability for his staggering fraud.”

The statement added, “The $464 million judgment — plus interest — against Donald Trump and the other defendants still stands.”

The bond reduction, while perhaps irksome for James, also gets her off the horns of a dilemma.

If Trump had not raised the larger bond, James would be faced with vexing questions around how exactly she’d seek to recover the money.

Though much is opaque about Trump’s finances, it is generally accepted that he does not have the requisite liquid assets of around half a billion dollars.

That means James would perhaps have moved toward trying to seize some of Trump’s real estate holdings — a cumbersome and complicated process that Trump would no doubt try to turn to his political advantage.

Legal decisions become campaign fodder for Trump and Biden

Naturally, the day’s legal proceedings were quickly filtered through the lens of November’s election.

Trump contended at a press conference that “this is all about election interference. This is all Biden-run.”

Trump also claimed in relation to the hush money case that “they’re dying to get this thing started; the judge cannot go fast enough.”

A few hours earlier, while Trump was sitting in court, he posted a supportive message on social media that drew a parallel between himself and Jesus Christ.

That, in turn, provided fodder for a counterattack from President Biden.

James Singer, a spokesperson for the president’s reelection campaign, cast Trump as “weak and desperate both as a man and a candidate for President.”

The statement continued, “He spent the weekend golfing, the morning comparing himself to Jesus, and the afternoon lying about having money he definitely doesn’t have.”

A bad day for Trump’s lawyer

Trump has had a volatile relationship with many of his lawyers over the years.

Monday seemed a bad day for his defense attorney in New York, Todd Blanche.

The judge in that case took a harsh view of Blanche’s accusations of prosecutorial misconduct and, more generally, pushed and prodded at the attorney’s arguments.

Blanche’s responses at times appeared faltering.

That’s unlikely to engender satisfaction from his famous client, who was present in court.

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