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Trump pleads with supporters for cash to help pay soaring legal bills

Trump pleads with supporters for cash to help pay soaring legal bills
Donald Trump on Thursday again asked his loyal supporters for cash to help him meet mounting legal expenses and keep the “filthy hands” of the New York attorney general off Trump Tower and other properties.

The appeal comes as Trump faces an imminent deadline to pay a huge bond from a New York fraud trial that ended in a $454m civil judgment against him for overstating his net worth and the value of his real estate properties. If he is unable to post it, authorities could start to seize the former US president’s assets.

Under the headline “Keep your filthy hands off Trump Tower!” a Trump fundraising email sent to his supporters read: “Insane radical Democrat AG Letitia James wants to SEIZE my properties in New York. This includes the iconic Trump Tower.”

The twice-impeached Trump – currently the presumptive Republican presidential nominee – continued: “Democrats think that this will intimidate me. They think that if they take my cash to stifle my campaign, that I’ll GIVE UP!

“But worst of all? They think that YOU will abandon me, and that you will GIVE UP on our country. Here’s one thing they don’t know: WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER!”

Trump did surrender last August, to state authorities in Georgia in a case now concerning 10 election subversion charges. Facing 78 other criminal charges (for election subversion, retention of classified information and hush-money payments), Trump has used his Georgia mugshot in fundraising appeals.

In New York, Trump faces 34 criminal charges in the hush-money case and recently paid a $92m bond to cover his appeal in a civil case arising from a rape allegation a judge called “substantially true”.

But his chief concern in the state at present is meeting obligations while appealing a multimillion-dollar civil judgment in the civil business fraud case successfully brought by James in New York.

Lawyers for Trump said this week he could not find surety companies willing to cover the full $454m bond, making it “a practical impossibility” to pay in full.

Payment is due on Monday. If the bond is not paid, James will be entitled to begin seizing and selling Trump properties.

Doing so will be politically precious but James said last month: “If he does not have funds to pay off the judgment, then we will seek judgment enforcement mechanisms in court, and we will ask the judge to seize his assets.

“We are prepared to make sure that the judgment is paid to New Yorkers, and yes, I look at 40 Wall Street each and every day.”

That property, the Trump Building, is in lower Manhattan. Trump Tower, which Trump built in the early 1980s and lived in until becoming president in 2017, is in midtown, a Fifth Avenue landmark.

On Thursday, James’s office reportedly made preliminary steps in Westchester county which suggested a Trump-owned golf course and estate north of Manhattan could be in line to be seized. Similar steps have been taken in New York City. CNN said steps had not yet been taken in Florida, where Trump lives and owns golf courses, or in Chicago where he owns a hotel.

Trump used his Truth Social platform to allege that the judge in the case “picked a number out of THIN AIR … and wants me to bond it, which is not possible for bonding companies to do in such a high amount, before I can even appeal.

“That is CRAZY! If I sold assets, and then won the appeal, the assets would be forever gone. Also, putting up money before an appeal is VERY EXPENSIVE. When I win the appeal, all of that money is gone, and I would have done nothing wrong.”

Trump’s financial woes already extend to the campaign trail.

On Wednesday, Federal Election Commission filings showed that a political action committee tied to Trump spent $5.6m on legal expenses in February and in all had received from a pro-Trump super pac more than $50m to cover legal costs.

Related: How does Trump stand to make $3bn from Truth Social being listed on the market?

Filings also showed Trump far behind Joe Biden in fundraising for the November election. Trump’s campaign raised nearly $22m in February and had $42m on hand. The Biden campaign raised around $53m and had $155m on hand.

Biden’s campaign communications director, Michael Tyler, said: “If Donald Trump put up these kinds of numbers on The Apprentice [the NBC reality show he fronted from Trump Tower before entering politics], he’d fire himself.”

According to the Washington Post, which cited four sources close to Trump, the former president is not considering declaring bankruptcy, a move which would delay payment in the civil fraud case, because of the damage doing so might do to his campaign.

On Thursday, on Truth Social, Trump also called Judge Arthur Engeron “crooked” and James, who is Black, “corrupt and racist”, alleging both were involved in “election interference”.

In his fundraising email lamenting the threat to Trump Tower, he said donations would help send “Biden’s corrupt regime … the message … that our patriotic movement CANNOT BE STOPPED!

“So before the day is over, I’m calling on ONE MILLION Pro-Trump patriots to chip in and say, STOP THE WITCH HUNT AGAINST PRESIDENT TRUMP!”

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