Trump lawyer Alina Habba fumes civil fraud hearing ‘wasted time and money’ after bond deal reached

After weeks of back-and-forth between Donald Trump’s legal team and the New York Attorney General’s Office over the $175m bond in his civil fraud ruling, the two sides have now agreed to allow the bond to be backed by a California-based company so long as the collateral remains in cash, among other stipulations.

On Monday, attorneys for Mr Trump, including Alina Habba, and lawyers for Letitia James’s office met for a court hearing on the bond dispute, approximately 500 feet from the Manhattan courtroom where opening arguments began in Mr Trump’s first criminal trial.

Following the hearing, Ms Habba fumed that it was “wasted time” and a waste of taxpayer dollars as she accused Ms James of waging unnecessary complaints about the bond and tried to draw comparisons with his criminal case.

“The fact that we have two courts, not one criminal and civil being used against one man because they cannot beat him in the polls is a disgrace to the American judicial system,” she said.

“Ms James wanted to argue and say that our cash somehow isn’t green enough. This is where your tax dollars are going to America, right here, witch hunt after witch hunt.”

Ms Habba, who joined Mr Trump in criminal court after the bond hearing, echoed the former president’s rhetoric, claiming that “he should not even be here today because he did nothing wrong”.

The dispute over the fraud bond centred around the underwriter: Knight Specialty Insurance Company (KSIC) a California-based company that gave Mr Trump an 11th-hour lifeline. The company is part of the Knight Insurance Group, chaired by billionaire Don Hankey.

Ms James’s office raised concerns over the details of the bond, saying the company should be under full control of the collateral put by Mr Trump and that KSIC was not authorised to write business in New York.

KSCI disagreed, claiming in a filing that they could because it was backed in a Charles Schwab account pledged to them.

After a relatively brief hearing on Monday, lawyers for Mr Trump and Ms James’s office came to an agreement that would keep the $175m in collateral in cash, have KSCI maintain control of it and KSCI will designate an agent to accept legal services on their behalf in New York.

Justice Arthur Engoron, who presided over the hearing and the civil fraud trial, ruled that the bond could stand on the new terms.

“Ms James wanted to argue and say that somehow our cash isn’t green enough. We wasted time,” Ms Habba said. “We came to an agreement that everything would be the same, we would modify terms and that was it. That’s where you’re taxpayer dollars are going America, right here, witch hunt after witch hunt.”

New York attorney general Letitia James (AP)
New York attorney general Letitia James (AP)

The bond in the civil fraud case ruling has come a long way since Justice Engoron ordered Mr Trump to pay $354m plus interest in February after his civil fraud trial.

Justice Engoron found Mr Trump, his adult sons, and former executives of the Trump Organization liable for defrauding investors and banks to secure more favourable terms.

Mr Trump planned to appeal the ruling but couldn’t do so without posting an enormous bond.

After shopping around for companies to help him pay the bond, which by March was up to $464m, Mr Trump appealed to a New York appellate court asking them to reduce it.

Donald Trump in court on 22 April (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Donald Trump in court on 22 April (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The court handed him a win by granting him a 10-day extension and slashing it to $175m.

The terms of the new agreement should be finalised by Friday.