Nov 7, 2023 - Politics & Policy

What Trump stands to lose in his New York civil fraud trial

Photo illustration of Trump standing in a field of gavel blocks, with a shadow of a gavel hammer looming overhead.

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump is at risk of losing the New York real estate empire that the rest of his career was built on.

The big picture: Forcibly dismantling Trump's company is so unusual that no one is quite certain how it would play out.

State of play: Trump already has been found to have inflated the value of his New York assets, via a partial summary judgment. The case now is in its penalty phase — and Trump testified yesterday, drawing a rebuke from the judge after veering off topic in his answers.

Details: In an earlier phase of the trial, the judge granted New York Attorney General Letitia James' request to cancel state business certificates that effectively allow many of Trump's properties to operate.

  • Trump successfully appealed that part of the lower court's ruling, but the possibility could come back once the trial concludes.

How it works: If the business certificates were canceled, the relevant assets — which include Trump Tower, Trump Park Avenue, 40 Wall Street, and Trump National Golf Course Hudson Valley — would be put under the control of a court-appointed receiver, who operates much like an executor of an estate.

  • The receiver would continue to manage the properties, but also could be allowed by the court to sell some — particularly if cash was needed to pay off legal penalties or creditors.
  • Trump, who views himself as a consummate dealmaker, wouldn't be at the negotiating table.

What we're watching: Even if he's able to keep his business certificates, there are other options on the table that could weaken his real estate empire. Prosecutors have asked for:

  • A five-year ban on Trump or the Trump Organization entering into commercial real estate transactions in New York.
  • A five-year ban on Trump or the Trump Organization applying for loans from any financial institutions chartered by or registered in New York.
  • Permanent disbarment of Trump and his three oldest children from serving as officers or directors in a business headquartered, registered and/or licensed in New York.

The bottom line: The legal proceedings could forever alter Trump's business legacy — the same legacy he parlayed into his political career.

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