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From the New York Times, I'm Michael Bivarro. This is The Daily. Last week, when a civil court judge in New York ruled against Donald Trump, he imposed a set of penalties so severe that they could temporarily sever Trump from his real estate empire and wipe out all of his cash. Today, my colleagues, John Abramwich and Maggie Habermann, explain what that will mean for Trump, the businessman, and Trump, the candidate. It's Friday, February 23rd. John and Maggie, thank you for coming in.Thanks.


For having us.Thank you.


Last week, the judge overseeing one of the many cases cases against Donald Trump issued a ruling that, put simply, was a bombshell, the single most devastating penalty really ever against the former President. That's what we want to talk to you about, the fall out from that ruling. We turn to you, Jono, because you have covered the case day to day in the courtroom for months, and Maggie, because you know Trump arguably better than anyone as one of his biographers. Jono, just to start, remind Remind us what this case was fundamentally about.


This case is about fraud, and specifically, the New York attorney general accused Donald Trump, his company, of exaggerating the value of their properties. That includes golf clubs, hotels, apartment buildings. What the AG said that Trump did was take those things, say that they were much more valuable than they actually were, and as a result, got better loan terms from banks, from insurers, profiting from what they said was fraud.


In a lot of ways, the case became a stand-in for the broader question that has hung over him for years, which is, is he a fraud?


Not just did he commit fraud, but is he a fraud?


Is he personally a fraud? And is this empire that he built over decades and this public persona that he built over decades essentially built on a foundation of lies?


And, Jono, we knew really early on that the judge in this case was finding against Trump. That happened months ago. And the question was always around the penalties that were going to be levied against Trump. So, Jono, having covered the case day in, day out in the courtroom, just talk us through at a very high level what those penalties were, and then I think we're going to walk through them one by one in more detail.


Sure. So the first penalty is a cash penalty, and it's enormous. It started out as 355 million, so that's already a pretty sizable number. But then we're looking at interest on top of that, which actually vaults it all the way to 450 million.


Wow, nearly half a billion bucks.


Right. It's just as simple as that. Donald Trump now owes $450 million from this case alone. There's bans on Trump running his company. There's bans on him getting loans from New York banks. Then they've installed a monitor at the Trump organization, which sounds as if it's maybe a little bit less of a big deal than those other two. But in fact, as I think we'll talk about, is a very big deal. Okay.


I want to start, Jona, with the eye-popping financial penalty in this case. Just walk us through it.


Sure. One of the big things to know here is that this is not a fine. This is not the judge who was the one who decided it, saying, Donald Trump did these bad things, and thus I am going to find him this enormous amount. This is what's called discouragement. What it really is, it's a calculation of how much money Trump made through fraud. At trial, the attorney general said, We believe that it was about 370 million plus interest. The judge did his own calculations. They're in the ruling, and he found that it was very, very close to that. About 355 million with interest becomes something like $450 million.


Huge number. Can you just walk us through how you can possibly calculate that somebody's lies about their property value represent 350 or I guess 400, with interest, million dollars worth of basically ill-gotten gains.


One of the interesting things in this case is that you don't have traditional the victims, but the banks are the stands-in for the victims. These are the entities that would have made more money had Trump not gotten the terms that he got. The way that this is calculated is you look at the bank's lost profits. That's an enormous amount. Of the discouragement. Add that to interest. Then the recent sale of two properties that was also aided by the fraud.


Two properties sold by Trump. That's right.


That's where you get this number.


Okay, so the thinking is if Trump had properly valued the properties he was the loans for, then the banks would have made more money. Therefore, in a sense, the judge is taking that money from Trump and giving it now to the banks?


No, it goes to New York State. That's the funny thing because the banks weren't set up as victims in the way this works. So they say to Trump, You made X amount of money from your fraud. No one should be allowed to make money from fraud in New York State. We want the marketplace to work. Thus, to deter other bad actors in this marketplace, we're going to take that money from you and we're going to it to the good people of New York State.


Got it. Maggie, this number, $450 million or so, huge on paper, but help us understand what it means to Donald Trump, whose wealth has always been something of a moving target.


Yeah, it's huge in the wallet, too. Our understanding, mine, Jonas and our colleague, Ben Prottest,'s understanding from looking at documents and talking to sources, is that he has a little under $400 million in liquid That's liquid assets.


Less than he now owes. That's correct.


It's not nothing, but it's less than he now owes. That's just in one case. There's another case where he has a judgment as well.


Right. The E. Jean Carroll case where he owes, I think, about 83 million.


83 million plus interest. It is a staggering amount of money. He testified in a deposition last year that he had about $400 million in cash. Let's say that that was true. We can't verify that. It's still not enough.


Joni, he's not going to go bankrupt over this, but how do you meet a financial obligation big when your cash situation doesn't really allow for it?


It's a really difficult thing to do. His networth is really bound up in these properties. He has a couple of different ways to address this. One is to get a bond, which essentially means having someone vouch for him that he will eventually pay this money if the ruling is upheld on appeal. That's the easiest way to do it, but it's not quite as easy as you might think. He has to find someone to vouch for him. He probably has to put up collateral either in the form of a building or in a huge amount of money or promises. That's really difficult. Then if he doesn't, he might actually have to resort to liquidating one of the buildings, which, again, not as easy as it sounds.


Right. Maggie, is it right to think that no matter how he eventually, and I suspect we all think he will eventually be able to put together the money to pay this penalty, that this is humiliating for somebody whose identity is so bound up in wealth?


There's no question. It's both humiliating and infuriating in terms of His sense of being unmasked to a degree, as we are all sitting here talking about what he's actually worth, that's a big problem for him. Psychologically, it always has been because he is very aware of the impact this can have on how he sells himself and presents himself, and also the reality of what this means for his company, a company that has remained in New York all this time, even as he became a Florida resident.


Okay, so that is the money, and it's messy. The second element I want to understand is this It's a decision to bar Trump from running the Trump organization. I know it also is a ban against his two sons being involved in the company as well. Just walk us through that. It seems like it would be very hard to take the Trumps out of the Trump organization.


Here's what we do know. Donald Trump, who is no longer really running the business of the company on a day in, day out basis, but still owns it, he was banned from serving as the leader of a New York company for three years. His two sons, including Eric Trump, who is the day in, day out leader of the Trump organization, they're banned for two years. That's one of the big question marks here. What exactly does it mean when the person who runs this major part of the Trump organization may not be allowed to run this major part of the Trump organization? How will the company continue to function?


Well, Maggie, what's your sense of the answer to that? How, knowing what you know about the Trump organization, does it function when dad dad and two sons, the owner of the company, basically, and the two people most identified as his leaders, have been told by a court, don't run the company?


It's complicated. People want to meet with the Trumps. People want to meet with the former President. Donald Trump is the most famous name in the world. When people want something out of this company, they are going to want to have the feeling that they are meeting with a member of the family because it is a family company.


Can they?


Well, that's a complicated question. I think we don't really know the answer. I think a lot of that is going to get worked out as we go by the monitor who is overseeing the company. I think that you will see the attorney general watching that process very closely. The company will still exist, but the question remains that without the Trumps as the people leading it or seen as leading it, we don't know what deals they're going to be able to strike. We don't know where this goes.


Yeah. This is where the third punishment, the monitor, really comes in.


Right. Maggie just mentioned the monitor. Just explain what a monitor is, what it does, and how it fits into the new universe of the Trump organization, given this ruling.


This monitor is a former federal judge. Her name is Barbara Jones, and she's essentially a corporate babysitter. She overlooks everything that the Trump organization may want to do regarding its finances. She's checking for fraud, she's looking at particular transactions and really scrutinizing them. The Trump organization as a private company has just never undergone this level of scrutiny before. When they're trying to maneuver and think about how they want to go about doing their business, continuing to make money, continuing to run the company, they're going to have this person overseeing their every move. To be clear, that was by design. The judge specifically noted in his ruling that Trump had expressed very little remorse for the fraud that he found and in fact had continued to commit it. The monitor is there because the judge simply does not trust Donald Trump, and that was made completely explicit.


How does Donald Trump, Maggie, and how do his sons regard having a government monitor in their midst?


Not happily, Michael. I analogize it to a moment in yet another court case that Donald Trump is facing, the investigation into his possession of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, where according to court filings, he said to one of his lawyers, I really don't want people going through my boxes. Those boxes were the boxes of documents, and he didn't want his lawyer and others looking through my boxes. It's mine, my company, my government, my possessions. He does not want an outside monitor there.


If you don't want your own lawyer going through the federal government papers owed to the federal government, you don't want a monitor looking over your shoulders as you run your company.


Then the crazy thing about the monitor is we think of all these penalties as these discrete things. There's the financial penalty, there's the bans, then there's the monitor. But they all work together in this really difficult way for the Trump organization because they're trying to scrounge up money. They're trying to figure out who will run the company. All the while, they have a monitor who's answerable to the judge, making their lives slower, more complicated, and ultimately more difficult. I think when you think about the punishments, it's actually important not to think of them as separate, but really to think about how they complicate each other, how the penalty complicates the monitor, complicates the bands, and who runs the Trump organization, and how Donald Trump feels about it. Got it.


I think these all interlock, but not in a complementary way, but like a stand in the gears way. If you're Trump, if you decide that to pay this $450 million penalty, you want to sell a building, correct me if I'm wrong, Jona, the monitor might look over your shoulders and say, No, not that building. And so suddenly, Trump's plan to actually pay the penalty gets mucked up by the monitor.


I think it's safe to assume that the monitor is going to be involved in all kinds of different things in ways that just make Trump's life fundamentally unpleasant.


Right. I mean, the image that's coming to in my head is the one from watching Trump in the reality TV show, right? You're fired. What it now feels the reality of Trump is, is a guy saying, You're fired, but I really can't run the company, and I can only fire you if the monitor says, I can fire you.


Right. It's basically, as Jonas said, his hands are essentially tied. As much as he liked projecting this image of a guy who what he says goes and his orders go and whatever he says the boss is in charge, he really can't do that now. I mean, to the extent that it ever was that way at the Trump organization, it really is not now. And so a very important piece of his public image, and I think, frankly, his self-image at this point, has been stripped away from him.


We'll be right back. Maggie, we've been talking about how this penalty is going to hurt Trump as a businessman and just as a rich guy who is about to be less rich. But I want you to explain what it means to Trump as the de facto Republican nominee for President to have a penalty of this scale. On the one hand, It very much feels like a ruling like this fits into Trump's narrative that the democratic blue state establishment is out to get him. On the other hand, as you've started to hint at, a big part of Trump's appeal was that he is a hugely successful businessman, and this very much undercuts that by saying you were a fraud. How should we think about what this penalty does to Trump the candidate?


In terms of how he appeals to his base of voters, it's very helpful to him. Frankly, in terms of appealing to even business people who might be center-right, but on the fence about Trump, like some of his policies, a lot of them identify with him on this and think that he's being treated unfairly.


Is it because of the number?


It's because of the state coming and taking your business, which is how he is going to continue to present this. He is not going to present it as, They came after me for fraudulent tactics. It's going to be, I ran a successful company and they're coming after me. That's been every single one of his fundraising emails about this topic.


Right. I actually got one of those emails, Maggie. I I'm going to read the language from it. This is from a Donald Trump fundraising email that came right after this finding, Do you support President Trump more or less after every single witch hunt, raid, indictment, and arrest that the radical left has thrown at him? He's saying this is like every single one of the other ones.


Well, part of his strategy, Michael, has been to smear all of these court cases with one facade, which is that this is essentially the state coming at me. And so this plays into that, and you will see him continue to say that. However, to your question, it does take a bit of an ax to the self-image that he has continued to put out there. I think you will see President Biden and Democrats focusing on that.


Focusing on how?


Focusing on it by high fighting that a court just found him guilty of widespread fraud. I think you were going to hear Democrats saying, This is how he ran his business, and he can't run his own business for three years. Why should he be allowed to run the country for four years? You're going to hear something like that. They're going to try to tie it to the economy. The economy is what most voters vote on. They'll try to suggest that he is bad with money. Because he is bad with money, he should not be in charge of the US government and your money. I think whether that will be successful or not, I don't know, but I think that's where this is going.


John, I want to turn to the idea of the animated, activated Trump base of voters who sees this penalty as the latest invitation to show their support for Trump. Technically speaking, on paper, However, could Trump harness that anger to basically fundraise his way out of the financial hole he's now in? Could he set up a legal defense fund? Could he ask supporters to basically bail him out of this?


Hypothetically speaking, 100%. He can absolutely do that. The one thing that I think he could not do is tell people that the money is for a different purpose than it is. But if he's up front about what this money is for, and given what Maggie said, I don't see that there's any reason not to be up front, he can set up a legal defense fund and see if he can raise some money. Now, whether he can actually raise that money, and this is a good question for Maggie, I think, just for this particular problem, that's another question. Maggie?


Well, it's money It's a company that, in theory, could be going to his campaign. His campaign is already underfunded compared to President Biden's. We saw that again in numbers that came out in recent days. I think he is going to have to make choices if that's the route he takes.


Every dollar you ask someone to give you for your legal defense fund, in this case, is potentially a dollar that doesn't go to the campaign that, as you're saying, is already falling behind Joe Biden in terms of fundraising. Correct.


This is a low dollar fundraising base that he has gone to over and over and over again. His donors. His own donors. They've been asked to rise up and defend him over and over and over again. Fatigue may be inevitable. Right. At a certain point, there are choices that will have to be made with eight months left of this campaign him as the likely nominee. Just to think of this another way, this judgment alone, just the New York AG case, putting aside the Eugene Carroll case, just the New York AG case is nearly half a billion dollars. A presidential nomination for a general election candidate, that campaign generally costs about a billion dollars. It's about half the cost of a presidential run in 2024.


If you put them together, you're saying it's going to be a lot to ask the American people even Trump's most fervent supporters, to hand over 1.5 billion, which would be the cost of a campaign, as well as bailing him out of this legal predicament.


It's a lot of money.


I want to turn to a delicate but really interesting question, which is, what does it look like for Trump to run for President and potentially win back the presidency when he's basically out of cash? And does that create a new set of incentives for him when he's President that we should be thinking Well, just on the simplistic level, he would get free housing and free transportation.


So put that aside. It's so hard to answer because when he was President, starting in 2017, he never put the company in a blind trust. They stopped doing foreign deals, and his sons took over. But there were all sorts of foreign officials who stayed at the Trump Hotel, and that was seen as a backdoor way of getting foreign money to Trump. Remember, it's not just the second he becomes president, there's eight months left of a presidential race where he's the likely nominee, and there could be foreign governments or foreign entities that are going to try to curry favor with him by doing deals now.


You're saying if you're a business who wants to get in the good graces of the next president of the United States, this is a good moment because he's not President and can do a deal, and those companies would know that he needs money.




I was going to say, just speaking very hypothetically, we know what Trump's past behavior is, and we know what the incentives here would be, and we're really looking at uncharded landscape in terms of what this might actually look like. I think that these are guesses. We should emphasize that there are guesses.


We have no idea what will actually happen, but there is a theoretical case.


They're well-informed guesses. Yeah.


Okay, got it. We've talked a lot, Maggie, especially with you, about how re-election for Trump has been key to his plan for solving the legal problems he has in so many different cases. The idea is he could win, he could ask his future attorney general to drop the federal cases against him, the classified documents case, the January sixth case. Civil cases and local cases like this case, would seem to be more complicated. So does becoming president do anything to alleviate the unique burdens of this case and this penalty?


Short answer is no. I mean, one thing has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Now, you are correct. We have had any number of conversations about the impact that him winning a second term could impact the federal cases against him, and there are two. But there's also two state cases in addition to this particular case is a civil case. The Eugene Carroll case is a civil case. There is nothing he can do about that. Now, could becoming president slow down the gears of certain things? In theory, yes. Again, we are facing such a new dynamic here with all of this, were he to become president again? That I don't even know how to fathom how half of this would work. But the short answer is he does not have a magic wand as president to impact these cases.


But in a way, you'd rather to be president if you're in this situation than not be president.


I think he discovered through all of the legal travails he faced while he was president, it was better to be president than not.


But what's really interesting about where we are now and what we're talking about is It is different for him to be, after this case and in this moment, facing actual consequences of this type, where the penalty has already been demanded of him. Trump seems to face a lot of heat, but he always gets out of it. He gets out of these bankruptcies. He gets out of the Access Hollywood tape during the 2016 election.


He gets out of the impeachments twice.


Exactly, yeah. But here, we already have the consequences demanded of him, and it seems highly unlikely, right as he's running for President again, that he's going to be able to get out of paying these things or dealing with them in some way.


Well, Maggie, Jona, thank you very much.Thank.




You.thank you.


We'll be right back. Here's what else you need to know today. The mother of Alexi Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who has died in prison, said that the government has refused to release her son's remains unless she agrees to a secret funeral that would draw no public attention.


. In a video, Ludmilla Navalny accused the government of Vladimir Putin of illegally blackmailing her by, Telling me where, when, and how Alexi should be buried.


Meanwhile, during a fundraiser, President Biden called Putin a Crazy SO be, his harshest language to date for the Russian leader. In response, the Kremlin dismissed Biden's remarks as, Hollywood cowboy-style behavior designed to win him re-election. Today's episode was produced by Will Reid and Mary Wilson. It was edited by Brenda Clinkenberg, with help from Rachel Quester, containing means original music by Alisha Ba Itup and Dan Powell, and was engineered by Alyssa Moxley. Our theme music is by Jim Runberg and Ben Lantfer of Wunderly. Special thanks to Ben Prottes. It for The Daily. I'm Michael Baboro. See you on Monday..