What Damages?

Stipulate, arguendo, that Republican Primary Presidential candidate Donald Trump was, indeed, guilty of civil fraud as New York judge Arthur Engoron ruled regarding the way Trump valued his properties in order to obtain loans. As a result of that civil conviction, Engoron has ordered, among other things, that Trump must pay more than $350 million in “ill-gotten profits” which are some sort of “damages.”

I have to ask: what damage? What ill-gotten profit? All the bank loans were repaid in full along with all of the associated interest accumulated over the lives of the loans. Think about that for a moment. The question of damage goes, or should go, far beyond the proximate question of whether the banks got all that was due them under the terms of those loans.

Had Trump valued his properties in line with Engoron’s claims—Mara Lago, for instance was worth only $18 million in Engoron’s judicial (not financial) estimation rather than the $420 million (at least) at which Trump valued it—the associated loans would have been far smaller, and the banks would have made far less money. What damage, indeed?

And those “ill-gotten profits” that Trump made with those loans? Those loans and associated profits allowed some of his businesses to survive and those employees to continue to have good jobs, and those loans and associated profits allowed other of his businesses to grow and those businesses to hire more employees into growth-created good jobs.

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