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“That Makes Him A Mark”: Experts Warn Trump Could Get Desperate As His Fraud Appeal Appears Doomed

“That Makes Him A Mark”: Experts Warn Trump Could Get Desperate As His Fraud Appeal Appears Doomed

Experts worry what Trump may do as he is “scrambling to pay his bills” after $400+ million in judgments

By IGOR DERYSH

Managing Editor

PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 20, 2024 9:05AM (EST)

Former President Donald Trump faces long odds if he tries to appeal the $355 fraud ruling against him, legal experts say.

New York Judge Arthur Engoron last week hit Trump with a $355 million judgment that could swell to more than $450 million once interest is added. Trump attorney Alina Habba told Fox News on Monday that the former president plans to appeal the ruling but is “prepared” to post the bond, which is the full amount and an additional percentage, within 30 days.

CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen predicted Trump’s appeal would go “poorly.”

“The judge backed up his legal findings of fraud by the Trump Organization, Mr. Trump, and others, with a mountain of evidence and very sound legal reasoning,” he said Monday.

“You can’t say your home is about 30,000 square feet when it’s about 10,000 square feet,” he continued. “And the same kind of disparities are found on Trump’s Seven Springs estate, Mar-a-Lago, 40 Wall Street, and on and on. The judge dropped the most controversial and problematic finding on his final order, and that was the corporate death penalty, yanking the certificates of doing business in New York. What’s left is bulletproof.”

Engoron in his Friday ruling reversed his earlier decision to impose the so-called “corporate death penalty,” which would have revoked Trump’s business licenses in the state and dissolved his company. Trump instead faces a three-year ban from serving in a controlling position in a New York business.

MSNBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos said the judge likely did that to make “this more appellate proof.”

“In other words, by reducing the punishment, he makes this a more palatable decision to an appeals court,” he said. “Had he kept on with the corporate death penalty, as it is called, an appeals court, the appellate division second department or highest court in New York, the Court of Appeals, may have concluded that this was just too harsh a penalty.”

The judgment, along with the $83.3 million a jury ordered Trump to pay defamed writer E. Jean Carroll last month, has raised questions about how Trump, who spent the weekend hawking $399 sneakers, would raise the funds to pay.

Trump biographer Tim O’Brien told MSNBC on Monday that money troubles are nothing new for the former president.

“This problem was there in 2016 when Trump was elected. Trump was trying to get a real estate deal done in Moscow while he was running for president,” O’Brien said, noting that Trump went on to do favors for the Saudis in office before his son-in-law “got billions” from the Saudis after leaving office.

“Trump has always been a human billboard. He’s been willing to sell his name and his voice to anyone who will put a bag of cash on his desk,” O’Brien said. “That is fine when you are a self-promoter and a serial bankruptcy artist, who has never been able to operate a business very effectively. It’s a world of difference when you become president.”

O’Brien predicted that Trump is “going to be scrambling to pay his bills” after the “massive judgments” against him.

“That makes him a mark,” he said. “When you have a president that is a mark, it’s bad for public interest.”

Former longtime Trump Organization executive Barbara Res predicted that Trump would try to cash in on the judgments against him.

“I think in his heart he believes, one, he’s gonna get away with it, and two, he can make money off of this somehow, getting more fundraising, more people to feel sorry for him,” Res told MSNBC.

Former longtime Trump fixer and Trump Organization Vice President Michael Cohen predicted that Trump would have to “start liquidating assets” in order to pay an “enormous amount of money he does not have.”

“I don’t care what anybody wants to write in any newspaper, regardless of what their credentials may be, unless he’s gonna show you that his bank account has more than a half a million — he doesn’t have $400 million of cash on hand,” Cohen told MSNBC.

By IGOR DERYSH

Igor Derysh is Salon’s managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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