Donald Trump posts $175mn bond as he appeals New York fraud judgment

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Donald Trump has posted a $175mn bond to prevent the New York attorney-general from collecting on a near half-billion dollar fraud judgment against him and his businesses, temporarily ending a stand-off that could have led to parts of the former president’s property empire being seized.

The bond, which Trump had to post in order to pause the enforcement of the judgment while he appeals against it, was underwritten by the Knight Insurance Group in California, according to a filing to a Manhattan court on Monday.

The amount he was forced to post was reduced from the full amount — which Trump had claimed would be an “impossible” sum to secure — to $175mn by an appeals court last week.

The posting of the bond came as a gag order against Trump, imposed last week by the judge overseeing a separate criminal case due to go to trial later this month, was widened by another New York court, after the former president had criticised the judge’s daughter on social media.

Trump had spent the Easter holiday posting various screeds against Judge Juan Merchan and his family on social media, naming his daughter and crying foul on the basis that she worked at a political consulting firm that counts prominent Democrats among its clients.

One post linked to a story containing a picture of Merchan’s daughter and another to a social media account that Trump said belonged to her — a claim denied by a spokesperson for the New York courts.

The office of the Manhattan district attorney, who brought the “hush money” case against Trump, wrote to the judge claiming that the former president’s “dangerous, violent, and reprehensible rhetoric fundamentally threatens the integrity of [the upcoming trial] and is intended to intimidate witnesses and trial participants alike”.

Lawyers for the office asked for Trump to be explicitly banned from talking about the judge’s family. But Trump’s counsel said to do so would restrict his “constitutionally protected speech”.

Late on Monday, Merchan granted the district attorney’s motion, saying that while he was “concerned about the First Amendment rights of a defendant, especially when the accused is a public figure,” the threat to the integrity of the case was “very real”.

“Admonitions are not enough, nor is reliance on self-restraint. The average observer must now, after hearing defendant’s recent attacks, draw the conclusion that if they become involved in these proceedings, even tangentially, they should worry not only for themselves, but for their loved ones as well,” Merchan wrote.

Trump’s posts on his Truth Social network mentioning Merchan’s daughter appeared to have been deleted after the revised gag order was handed down.

The hush money case, in which Trump is accused of buying the silence of a porn star who alleged an affair with him in the run-up to the 2016 election, and then disguising those payments in business records, is due to go to trial in Manhattan on April 15. Trump will be required to attend the trial in person four days a week.

It is among four criminal cases that Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for the presidency, is facing, in addition to various civil suits in US courts. He posted a $91.6mn bond last month while appealing against an $83.3mn civil judgment for the defamation of writer E Jean Carroll.

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