Donald Trump’s legal and financial problems are still very serious


This is the wrong question to ask. The right question is, how much in jeopardy is Trump, legally and financially, over the next few years? And the answer is “a lot”.

I remembered that point on Thursday while reading the terrific article by Joan Biskupic on the continuing delay in Supreme Court on whether Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can access tax returns and financial records of Trump. Trump’s legal team continues to fight the release of those files, with a brief due next month asking the court to hear oral arguments on the appeal.

Whether or not Trump wins in this specific case, he still faces an absolute legion of legal issues. Among them:

1. The New York Attorney General’s Office examines how the Trump organization has valued its assets.
2. Defamation lawsuits against E. Jean Carroll and Summer Zervos.
3. A fraud lawsuit filed by Trump’s niece, Mary Trump.
4. A possible charge of incitement by the DC Attorney General for Trump’s role in the January 6 riot on the United States Capitol.
5. Two inquiries into Trump’s attempts to pressure Georgian elected officials to overturn state election results.
(Good legal news for Trump, the lawsuits over his alleged violations of the emoluments clause while he was president were dismissed by the Supreme Court last month because, well, Trump is no longer in office. )

All these various legal entanglements – even if they all will end up going in favor of Trump – will cost a lot of money. And, oddly for a billionaire, Trump is not in great financial shape at the moment – and more issues on that front are on the horizon.

According to financial reporting documents released within hours of Trump’s departure from the White House last month, the ex-president’s eponymous company has suffered a major sales hit in the past. year.

Overall, Trump’s businesses generated almost 40% less revenue in 2020 compared to 2019. He made $ 30 million less from his Doral property in Miami than in 2019. The Trump International hotel in Washington and the president’s former Turnberry property in Scotland were down. more than 60% year on year.

These income declines came even before Trump’s actions (and their absence) in the January 6 riots – a moment that led to his second House impeachment and condemned him across the political and business worlds. .

And Trump’s financial situation was already, uh, not good. Consider what we know about his financial situation from the New York Times reports on his tax returns. As the Times’ David Leonhardt noted ahead of the 2020 election:

“[Trump] appears to be responsible for loans totaling $ 421 million, most of which mature within four years.

“If re-elected, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to oust a sitting president. Whether he wins or loses, he will likely have to find new ways to use his brand – and its popularity among tens of millions of Americans – to make money. “

Trump was not re-elected. Which means that any protections – or concessions – that financial institutions might be willing to extend to a sitting president no longer exist. And outside the White House and with a mark badly damaged by his actions in the White House (culminating in his role in the January 6 riot), Trump’s earning power, especially from new sources of income, seems limited.

If the past is a prologue, Trump’s approach to this growing cloud of legal and financial issues will be to pursue and jeopardize his exit. This, from the New York Times about a Chicago skyscraper built by Trump that led to him incurring $ 287 million in unpaid debt in 2010, illustrates this point:

“When the project ran into problems, it tried to get rid of its huge debts. For most individuals or businesses, this would have been a recipe for ruin. contentious and headline-grabbing client, lenders let Mr. Trump down – exactly what he seemed to have been counting on. “

Trump has regularly bragged about his prowess in this regard. “Does anyone know more about litigation than Trump?” Trump said of himself during the 2016 election campaign. “I’m like a doctorate in litigation.” That same year, Trump told CBS’s Norah O’Donnell, “I’m the king of debt. I’m good with debt. No one knows debt better than I do. I’ve made my fortune using debt, and if things don’t work out, I renegotiate the debt. I mean, it’s a smart thing, not a stupid thing. “

The question for Trump going forward is how much leverage he retains on the people he owes money to. And how much it will be to muddy the waters with a multitude of legal documents. Yes, these tactics have worked in the past. But Trump’s situation – legally and financially – has deteriorated since he left the White House.

The real question then about Trump’s future is whether he can get away with it until 2024. And that’s a very open question right now.


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