Trump Demands NY AG Keep ‘Filthy Hands’ Off Trump Tower, Begs for Cash

Former President Donald Trump.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Donald Trump is seeking donations ahead of a March 25 deadline related to his civil fraud case.
  • He’s said he can’t afford the bond needed to forestall the possible state seizure of his assets.
  • But Trump could face legal trouble if he uses campaign funds to pay off his massive fraud penalty. 

“KEEP YOUR FILTHY HANDS OFF OF TRUMP TOWER!”

That’s Donald Trump’s latest pitch to supporters, as the GOP frontrunner begs for donations ahead of his rapidly approaching March 25 deadline to either secure a bond or pay New York the nearly half-billion dollar judgment due in his civil fraud case.

But there’s just one wrinkle — the former president could land himself in legal hot water if he were to use campaign donations to pay off the more than $457 million he now owes the state, an ethics watchdog group told Business Insider.

“Campaigns are barred from spending money on anything that isn’t a specific, election-related expenditure,” said Robert Maguire, research director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

“Paying off a personal legal judgment doesn’t fall into that category,” he said.

“Of course, Trump may try to do so anyway,” Maguire said, calling the federal regulations surrounding such a use of donations “murky.”

“The question is,” he told Business Insider, “whether the Republicans on the Federal Election Commission, who have blocked every investigation into Trump and his campaign over the years, would do otherwise this time around.”

In the frenzied fundraising message blasted out to MAGA voters on Wednesday, Trump’s campaign called on one million “Pro-Trump patriots to chip in and say, STOP THE WITCH HUNT AGAINST PRESIDENT TRUMP!”

The message said that “insane radical Democrat” New York Attorney General Letitia James — whose office successfully sued Trump over a decade of fraud-filled financial filings — wants to seize his properties in the state, including his beloved Trump Tower in Manhattan.

James has already taken the initial steps toward doing just that in the state’s Westchester County, where Trump owns a 200-plus-acre estate, Bloomberg reported.

“Democrats think that this will intimidate me,” Trump’s donations-pitch continued. “They think that if they take my cash to stifle my campaign, that I’ll GIVE UP!” the message read. “But worst of all? They think that YOU will abandon me, and that you will GIVE UP on our country.”

The fundraising message, which also baselessly accused President Joe Biden of having something to do with the AG’s fraud case, proclaimed: “WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER!”

It called for supporters to donate to the Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, Trump’s main campaign PAC.

The call-to-alms did not explicitly say Trump would use any money raised to potentially cover the colossal judgment against him. But it suggested the money would somehow back his battle cry of “KEEP YOUR FILTHY HANDS OFF OF TRUMP TOWER!”

New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Representatives for Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment by BI on Thursday. James has said that she’ll move to seize Trump’s assets if he can’t come up with the money to secure a bond or pay the judgment.

“Using campaign cash to pay down a legal judgment is both practically and legally implausible,” said CREW’s Maguire.

First, there’s the question of whether Trump’s cash-strapped campaign could ever raise anything near the money needed to pay the judgment.

“The idea that Trump could legally raise hundreds of millions more from small donors in the coming few days makes the chances of winning the lottery look like a sure bet,” Maguire said.

Then there’s the legality question.

Diverting campaign funds for personal use is prohibited under federal law, he said. Still, the rules that govern political action committee spending are less than crystal clear.

But that hasn’t stopped Trump from spending PAC money on legal fees, including for  his four criminal indictments and the NY civil fraud case that, arguably, are personal matters.

Trump has complained, without evidence, that his civil and criminal cases are “election interference” attempts.

A recent BI analysis found that Trump spent more than $52 million on legal fees in 2023 using funds from two political action committees that he controls.

Nearly $40 million of the $52.4 million in donor money was spent on law firms working on cases that had nothing to do with Trump’s candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, the analysis found.

Maguire told BI that Trump is already stretching the rules by using PAC money to pay off tens of millions of dollars of his own non-election-related lawyer fees.

According to Maguire, using PAC donations to cover a civil judgment, which he said would seemingly be considered a personal expense under Federal Election Commission rules, would be an even more extreme stretching of those guidelines.

But Maguire noted the guidelines aren’t clear-cut and the FEC has been friendly to Trump over the years.

In one key example, the commission declined to take action against Trump in connection with the $130,000 Stormy Daniels hush-money payment his then-attorney, Michael Cohen, made just 11 days before the 2016 election.

Former President Donald Trump in Tulsa, Okla.
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

Trump says he can’t secure a bond

In a nearly 5,000-page court filing early this week, Trump’s attorneys said that the former president cannot afford to post an appeal bond covering the penalty he owes New York state from last month’s civil fraud judgment.

Securing such a high bond in time to meet a March 25 deadline “is a practical impossibility,” despite “defendants’ ongoing diligent efforts,” Trump attorneys wrote in the filing.

Trump once again railed against his massive civil fraud judgment in a post Thursday to his social media platform, Truth Social, and insisted he did “nothing wrong.”

The former president said the judge who presided over his fraud trial, Justice Arthur Engoron of New York’s Supreme Court, “picked a number out of THIN AIR” and “wants me to bond it, which is not possible for bonding companies to do in such a high amount, before I can even Appeal.”

“That is CRAZY!” Trump fumed. “If I sold assets, and then won the Appeal, the assets would be forever gone. Also, putting up money before an Appeal is VERY EXPENSIVE. When I win the Appeal, all of that money is gone, and I would have done nothing wrong.”


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