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to help answers along, this was just asserted

by Jim Sciutto, CNN anchor and chief national security correspondent after 06:22:

The previous indictments Trump has faced, he has not had to post bond. Is it more likely, based on how we know Fulton County runs and by the way, first time Fulton County has seen an indicted president walk through those doors? But but based on the way they typically handle things like that, is it more likely than not that he would have to post bond here, whereas he has not in previous cases?

Bail, or at least bond has since been established in one instance so far:


There are numerous articles recently in many major US news outlets that the former president has spent tens of millions of dollars of money from various kinds of political and campaign donations to pay his lawyers. Just for example the Wall Street Journal's August 5, 2023 Trump’s Donors Help Fund His Legal Bills, Becoming Windfalls for His Attorneys

Former president’s PAC has helped with over $36 million in attorney costs on behalf of Trump and his aides and associates.

In CNN's August 8 2023 Christie on Trump’s free speech defense: ‘There are always limits to free speech’, former New Jersey Governor and former US Attorney for the District of New Jersey and current US presidential candidate Chris Christie says after 01:35

And by the way, when you're a criminal defendant, out on bail, let's focus on that. He is now out on bail in three different jurisdictions, New York, Florida and Washington. D.C. We have a frontrunner in this race who's out on bail in three jurisdictions. It's pretty incredible.

Presuming that a former US attorney was basing his claim on national television on facts, I will presume for the moment that the former president is indeed still at this moment "out on bail in three different jurisdictions".

However, he might also have been released on personal recognizance in all three cases and Christie might be misspeaking; I just don't know.

Parenthetically we should note that a fourth may be pending (Politico's Tracking the Trump criminal cases; A definitive guide to the key players and legal risks in the four criminal probes of Donald Trump. updated August 2, 2023 lists "Georgia Election Interference Investigation" as still in the investigation phase.

Question: Is former president Trump "out on bail" as Chris Christie asserts? If so, were campaign funds used for it?

notes:

  1. I'm only asking in regard to his arrests and indictments since leaving office in 2020.
  2. Campaign funds spent on lawyers as part of the process don't count.

Graphic from the linked WSJ indicating ten law firms each of whom has received over 1 million dollars from Save America related to legal expenses related to the former president.

Legal fees paid by Trump’s Save America, since 2021

enter image description here

Source: Federal Election Commission via WSJ

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2 Answers 2

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Trump was released on his own recognizance in the documents case, and released on bond in the Jan 6 case. Bond means that Trump signed a document promising to return to court, which may or may not have involved a lien on property or obligation to pay if he fails to appear.

Bail is a particular type of bond in which the defendant submits an upfront payment that will be held until he returns to court, but there's no indication Trump was asked to post bail.

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  • Thanks! This is very clear, except what does "there is no indication" mean here? A scan of all major news sources? Of public records? Or just "I haven't heard of any"? We can't prove a negative, but we can at least support our assertions by explaining how we "reached them" or what makes us think they are likely to be true.
    – uhoh
    Aug 12, 2023 at 1:15
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    @uhoh: I don't think bond agreements are part of the DC court public record; I can't find it on the web and look it directly. But when the magistrate judge read off Trump's conditions she didn't mention any bail amount or any secured property — which is pretty typical when present, because lawyers want the opportunity to argue about it — so it seems to be an unsecured bond (meaning they placed behavioral limitations, but didn't secure them with financial penalties). It's possible the MJ and attorneys agreed to some material bond in chambers that never reached the public eye, but... Aug 12, 2023 at 2:39
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    Isn't posting bail generally a matter of public knowledge? We often hear about person X was released wrt case Y for Z amount of money. Which would bolster this answer. Aug 12, 2023 at 17:12
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica: Generally yes, it's disclosed to the public. I just don't know if it's legally required to be disclosed, or whether the judge has discretion. Law is weird... Aug 12, 2023 at 17:20
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica The fact that there has been no word at all regarding Trumps lawyers fighting any bail amounts or of him posting bail suggests to me that he hasn't paid anything which also means his campaign hasn't paid anything.
    – Joe W
    Aug 12, 2023 at 21:01
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I think Christie is likely misspeaking; Trump is out on bond in one case, and released on his own recognizance in others. Even though he's a lawyer, and presumably knows the difference, his remarks are targeted to the general public, whose legal knowledge comes from watching shows like "Law and Order".

So he appears to be using "out on bail" as shorthand for "indicted but not held in jail (i.e. remanded)". It works well as a rhetorical tactic, using simple language rather than a fancy word like "indicted" (many lay people probably also conflate indicted and convicted). Trump is certainly wealthy enough that he could have paid any likely bail if imposed; for the purposes of pointing out his legal troubles, does it really matter if he actually had to do so?

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