Successful Stable Genius Billionaire Unable to Secure $454 Million Court Bond


It feels like a schadenfreude moment. But maybe not.

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump say he hasn’t the money to post bond on roughly half a billion dollars he now owes under his New York fraud judgment.

By Monday, Trump must arrange a $454 million bond to comply with a court ruling. But his attorneys called that a “practical impossibility” filled with “insurmountable difficulties.” They have approached 30 companies through four brokers and none would accept his real estate holdings as a guarantee on a bond for that amount. So the attorneys have filed an appeal to stay the judgment.

Trump could pay the money (if he had it), but he doesn’t have to. He just has to find a company (or someone) willing to guarantee it will pay the money if Trump loses his appeal.

So this is where we are: A self-proclaimed billionaire says he hasn’t the money to pay a court-ordered bond.

I know; you’re shocked.

How many times has this guybragged that he’s really rich?

Meanwhile, Trump will continue to accrue interest on the fine unless he deposits the full amount into an escrow account. That’s already a hefty sum.

A real billionaire wouldn’t have “insurmountable difficulties” in raising $454 million. Someone like Jeff Bezos would just cut a check. But Trump is a BINO, a Billionaire In Name Only, whose shell game is finally catching up with him. Trump has never been what he’s long claimed to be and, as many social media posts have gleefully declared, the chickens have come home to roost.

Imagine being the poor schlub stuck with the job of calling up surety companies to ask for a $454 million loan to a known con man so that he can put up an appeal bond after being convicted of financial fraud. You can’t make this up.

And it is appallingly ironic that a candidate with no money to pay his bills is running for the highest office of a nation that’s also over-leveraged, with 535 adult children in the House and Senate squabbling over over whether to pay its debts on time.

And if Trump can’t meet the Monday deadline?

New York Attorney General Letitia James could give Trump more time to pay the damages or arrange a lower amount through a counterproposal. Or she could pursue any number of options. She could order the court to seize his assets, freeze his bank accounts, begin collecting rent from the tenants of his buildings and request that the New York City sheriff auction off his properties.

She could subpoena Trump for his personal financial information, including tax returns. And, in what would be a huge embarrassment for Trump’s presidential campaign, she could serve a restraining notice that says to Trump, “don’t use any money until you pay us,” as ex-New York assistant attorney general Adam Pollock explained to NPR.

“For example,” Pollock said, “he goes on TV and is spending money. He’s flying his private jet around. … That’s spending money in an inappropriate way when he owes $[435] million to the people of the state of New York.”

We might enjoy the schadenfreude of seeing Trump finally exposed as the boastful idiot many have long known him to be, but here’s what I wonder.

What if someone, or a group of powerful someones, steps up and pays the court-ordered bond for Trump?

If you donate $100 to a campaign, but I donate $10,000, who is more likely to get his favors granted? Now imagine someone putting up $454 million. What might they ask for in return? Looks like quite the opportunity for some behind-the-scenes power player… if you’re a sordid, selfish, ambitious, rapacious billionaire. Or worse.

I bring up this scenario because the same day Trump was pleading poverty, a CNN investigation reported that an obscure right-wing think tank with deep ties to conservative billionaires has been steering candidates and lawmakers across the country toward adopting regulations and legislation that would benefit these mega-donor moneybags.

I know; you’re shocked.

It raises a troubling question: Do you know who you’re voting for? When a candidate speaks, how do you know he or she isn’t speaking for someone who told him what to say? Are you voting for the candidate or the person controlling the candidate? The puppet or the puppet master?

We hear all the time that all these lawmakers are for sale. How do they go in poor and come out rich? It’s the cynic’s definition of a politician: someone masquerading as a person of principle for sale to the highest bidder.

Trump’s lawyers say he doesn’t have the money. By their actions, the banks and surety companies are sure he doesn’t have it. So, if someone secretly came forward, maybe a conservative dark money non-profit like DonorsTrust or Marble Freedom Trust, and offered to bankroll Trump for that $454 million bond, cui bono? Who benefits?

Consider that the head of Marble Freedom is Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society co-chair who advised (convinced) Trump on his Supreme Court nominations. Consider schemes — like the nearly 900-page playbook for Project 2025, a plan to ”steer the U.S. toward far-right autocracy” whose principal architect is the Federalist Society and which is supported by 80 other right-wing organizations, or the extremist objectives of Agenda 47 and it’s worth asking who is really behind the throne. It’s a serious question because, given its fascistic nature, anyone looking at such master plans and being okay with the starkness of purpose and vindictiveness of its intent is astounding. To support them is terrifying.

Again, do you know who you’re voting for? Is it a candidate, or is it an outsider who can purchase the status of a candidate who can influence policy that benefits them, but not you? Who are they? What do they want? Think people in the mold of Sheldon Adelson, the Mercers, the Koch brothers — are they who you want?

This all sounds highly speculative, maybe even bordering on conspiratorial, but is it? It’s not like we haven’t been through this before, such as when Vox’s Libby Nelson asked in January 2017 whether Trump put his best interests ahead of the nation’s best interests.

“The president could be for sale to any wealthy individual corporation or government willing to spend money,” she wrote.

When a Fox News host asked a Trump attorney Wednesday whether Trump or his team had sought out money from another country to help pay the appeal bond, we didn’t get an immediately emphatic “no,” which would have been the right answer.

“Judging by Alina Habba’s response,” wrote HuffPosts’s Ryan Grenoble, “he hasn’t not asked for it.”

Sure. Don’t give us your tired and your poor. Just give us your damned money.

While Trump has used political donor money to pay legal bills for his criminal indictments, campaign finance law prohibits anyone or any group from doing the same in civil cases. But how could we know for sure that he didn’t find a way around that prohibition?

We can crow all we want about campaign finance laws, but I don’t put anything past anyone who is tempted and financially capable enough to exploit a system as labyrinthine as ours to buy the kind of power that comes with the Oval Office, especially when the person you’re buying is desperate enough to do anything to return to that office. Surely there must be attorneys (unscrupulous, maybe) and barristers (wearing robes and powdered wigs, perhaps) who can find loopholes in the law to make that happen when paid a princely sum to do it.

I can’t prove that, but it’s hard not to believe it when you read and hear repeatedly that donors can channel millions of dollars anonymously to a candidate through one filter after another. Therein lies the riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

I know this sounds like I’m one of those curmudgeons who doesn’t trust the government. It’s not that I don’t trust the government. I just don’t trust Donald Trump anywhere near the levers of power in government. (Ironically, the people who trust the government the least are the ones who trust Donald Trump the most.)

And I trust even less — if that’s possible — anyone who might want to manipulate him for their own selfish purpose. That would not only pose a potential threat to America’s national security, but it would be antithetical to everything America is supposed to stand for.

“That individual or entity will potentially have real influence over him,” former U.S. national security advisor Susan Rice told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell.

“There’s just so many ways the stench of money from dubious places infuses his business enterprise, and so this would add more questions should that be the case going forward,” she added.

So for me, asking who we are truly voting for is an extremely relevant question. Especially when it comes to Donald Trump.

(That reminds me: Has anyone checked the rubles to dollars conversion rate lately?)

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