Trump’s best option to get $540M could be ‘clean’ property, private lenders

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News town hall at the Greenville Convention Center in Greenville, South Carolina, on Feb. 20, 2024.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Donald Trump is racing to stave off a pair of civil penalties totaling nearly $540 million, without having to first put up the full amounts in cash or bonds.

The former president’s lawyers claim that he would face “irreparable” harm if required to fully secure his judgments in order to keep them from coming due, and might even have to quickly sell off properties that can’t be rebought.

They also say Trump can’t simply post a cash deposit — at least not in his New York civil business fraud case, where he is facing $454 million in fines and interest alone.

“No one, including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Donald Trump, has five hundred million laying around,” Trump’s attorney Chris Kise told an appeals court judge last week.

But legal experts say there’s another option that Trump’s lawyers haven’t mentioned in the court filings: Trump could offer up some of his properties as collateral to borrow what he needs — potentially from private equity sources.

There are “lots of private lenders out there in the debt markets and private equity markets that could lend” to Trump, said Columbia University law professor Eric Talley.

“In all cases, the loans would probably have to be secured with Trump properties, but if there is enough equity in some of them, he should be able to obtain secured credit, even on a compressed timeline,” Talley said.

In this courtroom sketch, former U.S. President Donald Trump looks on as his attorney Alina Habba delivers closing arguments during E. Jean Carroll’s second civil trial in which Carroll accused Trump of raping her decades ago, at Manhattan Federal Court in New York City on Jan. 26, 2024.

Jane Rosenberg | Reuters

The professor underscored the irony of Trump using his real estate to fight a lawsuit in which he was found liable for fraudulently inflating his property values for financial gain.

Any loans “would themselves involve making declarations of the value of the property — and that of course is what got him into this mess to begin with,” said Talley.

But accurately appraising the value of Trump’s assets is not a serious obstacle. As Trump’s lawyers noted during the fraud trial, the institutions that have lent him money already have conducted their own analyses of Trump’s finances, and did not rely solely on the claims at issue in his financial statements.

A more important factor could be whether Trump’s real estate assets are already mortgaged, said law professor John Coffee.

“He would have to come up with clean real estate property that is not already securing something that some other bank has a lien on,” Coffee said.

“Does he have that property? I can’t tell you.”

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Trump’s best option to get $540M could be ‘clean’ property, private lenders

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