Trump and his mounting legal expenses : Trump's Trials This week on Trump's Trials, host Scott Detrow and Domenico Montanaro are joined by a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author of three books about Trump David Cay Johnston.

Over the course of four weeks former President Donald Trump was slapped with nearly half a billion dollars in legal penalties. First a jury ordered him to pay writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million. Then a judge ordered him to pay nearly $355 million, plus $100 million in interest, for fraudulent business practices. We look into how Trump could pay these penalties and how he's paying for his lawyers.

Topics include:
- Importance of wealth to Trump's image
- Civil fraud and E. Jean Carroll decisions
- How Trump could pay legal penalties
- How Trump is paying his lawyers

Follow the show on Apple Podcasts or Spotify for new episodes each Saturday.

Sign up for sponsor-free episodes and support NPR's political journalism at plus.npr.org/trumpstrials.

Email the show at trumpstrials@npr.org

Trump owes about half a billion dollars in legal penalties — how will he pay for it?

Trump owes about half a billion dollars in legal penalties — how will he pay for it?

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 08: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump greets supporters at his caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on February 08, 2024 (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) Mario Tama/Getty Images hide caption

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Mario Tama/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 08: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump greets supporters at his caucus night watch party at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on February 08, 2024 (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Mario Tama/Getty Images

This week on Trump's Trials, host Scott Detrow and Domenico Montanaro are joined by a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author of three books about Trump David Cay Johnston.

Over the course of four weeks former President Donald Trump was slapped with nearly half a billion dollars in legal penalties. First a jury ordered him to pay writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million. Then a judge ordered him to pay nearly $355 million, plus $100 million in interest, for fraudulent business practices. We look into how Trump could pay these penalties and how he's paying for his lawyers.

Topics include:
- Importance of wealth to Trump's image
- Civil fraud and E. Jean Carroll decisions
- How Trump could pay legal penalties
- How Trump is paying his lawyers

David's takeaway:

We don't really know how much money Trump has. He claims to have $400 million dollars on hand but time will tell if that's reality. When it comes to paying this nearly half a billion dollar fine, I predict he will file for personal bankruptcy. This wouldn't prevent him from paying but it would delay the payment deadline to, best case scenario for him, after the November election. He could also go to a bank or a fellow billionaire for the money. What we should be concerned about is the possibility of securing the money from a foreign citizen or government. It would create a situation where the possible future president might be obligated to this foreign entity. It's really uncharted territory.

Domenico's takeaway:

Trump's wealth and business success have always been central to his political image, whether or not that image was based in reality. Trump is twisting the narrative on this civil fraud decision, saying the decision is a reflection of a political witch hunt and not his business practices. But I have to wonder with all these criminal cases and mounting financial penalties how will voters respond to that narrative.

Last year Trump spent around $50 million dollars on legal fees. That money is coming from campaign donations and this is legal but it means that money isn't being spent on the actual campaign. The Republican National Committee might even start contributing to his legal fund which would be highly unusual and could affect down ballot races. On top of that, President Biden and his Republican rival Nikki Haley are out raising him.

Follow the show on Apple Podcasts or Spotify for new episodes each Saturday.


Sign up for sponsor-free episodes and support NPR's political journalism at plus.npr.org/trumpstrials.

Email the show at trumpstrials@npr.org

This episode was produced by Tyler Bartlam and edited by Tinbete Ermyas. Our executive producers are Beth Donovan and Sami Yenigun. Eric Marrapodi is NPR's Vice President of News Programming.