(March 19) Many of us appalled by former President Donald Trump’s lifetime of dishonesty may take schadenfreude in the massive financial judgments now threatening his business empire — but the sizes of those judgments, and the bonds pertaining to them, are utterly unwarranted.

Appeals courts should grant temporary injunctions to halt the bond collections and delay enforcement of the underlying penalties.

Two judgments are at issue, but one is particularly pressing. The first judgment, that Trump defamed E. Jean Carroll, who courts found had credibly accused him of sexual assault, came with an $83 million assessment against Trump. The second judgment assessed $355 million in penalties against Trump and his associates for fraudulently claiming tax and insurance benefits. This amount, plus interest, led to a demand that Trump post bond for $464 million by Monday. The assessment is so large as to represent an existential threat to Trump’s business empire. Trump’s lawyers say his assets are not liquid enough to post so high a bond. If he fails to post it, New York Attorney General Letitia James threatens to seize Trump’s properties and sell them to secure the cash.

Here’s Trump’s catch-22: Trump can appeal the underlying assessment, but the bond payment is due in advance of the appeal as security in case a final ruling goes against him. Yet if he can’t afford to post bond, he begins losing his assets before his main appeal can be heard. Trump may as well be facing the Queen in Alice’s Wonderland who insisted on applying the “sentence first — [appeals] verdict afterwards.”

Logically, this is insanity. Combined with the exorbitant sizes of the two judgments, the treatment of Trump is an obscenity.

Consider the $83 million penalty in the Carroll case. The first $18 million supposedly represents how much Carroll is due in direct “compensatory” damages for the reputational harm she suffered from Trump’s defamation. That alone is wildly extravagant, more than three times what actor Johnny Depp, who obviously had a much more financially significant reputation to protect in the first place, was awarded when former wife Amber Heard defamed him. The jury awarded Carroll another $65 million in “punitive” damages, meant not as compensation for her actual suffering but just to further punish Trump…. [The full column is here.]


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