Politics

Trump Signals His Next Move as Big Deadline Approaches

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


Former President Donald Trump, who is facing a deadline of Monday to turn over $464 million in the New York civil fraud case brought by Democratic state Attorney General Letitia James, hinted that his next legal move might be to invoke his federal constitutional right against excessive fines.

Judge Arthur F. Engoron levied a $355 million fine and more than $100 million in interest against the former president and presumed Republican presidential candidate last month.

To obtain better loan terms, Engoron concluded that Trump’s business, The Trump Organization, had overstated the value of its properties.

During the trial, Trump’s lawyers countered that there were no victims because all bank loans were repaid in full and on schedule. In reality, the banks profited millions of dollars from their loans to his business.

Fox News reports that Trump’s lawyers told the court on Monday that their client has not been able to obtain a bond to appeal his case because of the hefty fine.

On Tuesday, Trump wrote in a post on the social media platform Truth Social, “Judge Engoron actually wants me to put up Hundreds of Millions of Dollars for the Right to Appeal his ridiculous decision. In other words, he is trying to take my Appellate Rights away from me.”

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“I would be forced to mortgage or sell Great Assets, perhaps at Fire Sale prices, and if and when I win the Appeal, they would be gone,” he added.

Alan Dershowitz, a constitutional and criminal law expert, said on Tuesday during an interview that the impact could be a chilling effect on others.

“The amount is extremely excessive. It violates the cruel and unusual punishment of the Constitution that include excessive fines as being prohibited there was no damage done here. The judge just made up this figure,” Dershowitz said.

“You can’t deny somebody the right to appeal based on lack of funds. That’s a violation of equal protection, and a violation of due process,” Dershowitz added.

Trump took to his Truth Social website and also referenced the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as a recourse to prevent New York from imposing the large fine.

The Eighth Amendment states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

Trump shared an article from Fox News quoting former federal prosecutor Andrew Cherkasky, who said, “I would not count Trump out yet.”

He cited the Eighth Amendment and mentioned James’s threat to seize Trump properties such as 40 Wall Street and Trump Tower located off Central Park.

“If James actually does try to foreclose on some of his properties, I think he still has paths to move forward through federal court, ultimately to the Supreme Court to complain about Eighth Amendment violations,” Cherkasky said.

Cherkasky added that t seems “unbelievable” that the Constitution would permit such a move by a state.

“It does seem very unusual to have to essentially disgorge yourself of everything that you’re still fighting for through the appellate channel,” Cherkasky said.

Many others have also called the case politically motivated, saying the attorney general ran on the promise of going after Trump.

“I look forward to going to the office of Attorney General, every day suing him,” she previously said, as noted by NBC 24.

Trump attorney and spokeswoman Alina Habba fired back at a column by a legal authority that claimed her client’s appeal of a massive and uncharacteristic fine levied by a New York judge in a civil fraud trial earlier this month won’t fully succeed.

Writing in the National Review, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote that he expected that the $355 million fine would likely be reduced, but that would be it as far as an appeal goes.

“To my mind, it is unlikely that Trump’s appeal will result in a clean win for either side,” he wrote in the Feb. 20 article.

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“I anticipate that he will get material relief in terms of the dollar amount, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on the rest of the penalties. And those penalties matter, a lot,” he added.

That said, McCarthy also wrote that he thought the case was “nakedly partisan” and that he hoped it would be “overturned on appeal.”

McCarthy’s viewpoint was relayed to Habba by Fox News host Martha MacCallum during a show segment on Thursday, to which Habba responded that she would “welcome him to be part of the legal team if he knows the case better than the team that tried it for 11 weeks.”

“I’ve been on this case for the better of three years, and I can tell you right now there are truly no facts that support any of these decisions, and that, again, I can say will be made very clear in our appeal,” Habba argued.

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