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Forecast podcast: Trump adds to legal losses with $355 million civil fraud penalty

A street clock in front of the main entry to Trump Tower New York city.

Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Joe Veyera discuss former President Trump’s massive fine in a civil fraud case, plus more on junior doctors striking in England, elections in Belarus and Iran, and Thailand and China lifting visa restrictions. .

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These stories and others are also available in our free weekly Forecast newsletter.

This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Joe Veyera, Jess Fino, Jaime Calle Moreno, Awais Ahmad and Agnese Boffano. Produced and edited by Jimmy Lovaas with additional writing by Sophie Perryer. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

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Factal Forecast podcast transcript

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.


Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is February 22nd.

In this week’s forecast we’re discussing former President Trump’s fraud ruling, junior doctors striking in England, parliamentary elections in Belarus and Iran, and Thailand and China lifting visa restrictions. 

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you can find a link to in the show notes.

Trump fraud ruling

Information compiled by Joe Veyera

JIMMY: Up first, we’ll take a look at former President Trump’s latest legal defeat in a New York court. For more on that I’ve got the lead for our Americas’ desk, Joe Veyera. 

JIMMY: Hello, Joe. 

JOE: Hey, Jimmy, good to be back. Can you believe election day is just eight short months away?

JIMMY: It’s fine. 2024 is gonna feel like an entire decade, but it’s fine. Anyway, we saw a pretty noteworthy ruling in this Trump case last week. What can you tell us about it? And can you give folks a refresher on what the case was about?

JOE: Yes. So last Friday, a New York judge ruled in a civil case that the former president was liable for conspiring to manipulate his net worth by fraudulently inflating the value of his property holdings and was ordered to pay a $355 million fine plus interest, which bumps that total up to around $450 million. The order also bars him from serving as an officer or director at any New York company for the next three years. That includes the Trump Organization, with similar two-year bans given to his adult sons, Eric and Don Jr, who each also received $4 million fines.

JIMMY: And are there any new developments? What’s the latest?

JOE: Well, Trump has vowed to appeal but there is a bit of a wrinkle in that, in that he’s required to post a bond or pledge assets equal to the verdict plus interest, something his lawyer said he’s prepared to do. And the reason this is done is to make sure that the plaintiffs get the money if the appeal fails. We would be remiss not to mention that Trump is also on the hook for $88 million in judgments from sexual abuse and defamation lawsuits brought by E Jean Carroll. On the business side, he’s also banned from getting loans from New York chartered banks, which could have a significant impact on future dealings, but he could turn to private equity and hedge funds for any upcoming projects.

JIMMY: What sort of reactions have you seen from this ruling?

JOE: Trump himself called the ruling a sham and said it was a very sad day for the country as you might expect, while New York Attorney General Letitia James said the court ruled, quote, “in favor of every hard working American who plays by the rules.” And one line that sticks with me is from the judge himself, who said in his ruling that the “complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological,” which if nothing else, is just surprisingly strong language.

JIMMY: Now, this case is bound to have some lasting effects. What do you think folks should be watching for next?

JOE: Assuming there is an appeal, it may be a while before we have any sort of resolution here, with the case almost certain to drag into 2025. I mentioned earlier that he’ll have to come up with the hundreds of millions for the appeal, but where does that money come from? In a pre-trial deposition, he claimed to have $400 million in cash, but will he also need to borrow from a non-financial lender and put up assets as collateral? So that’s one thing. In the meantime, we’ll also have to see what happens with the Trump organization and its leadership. As part of his ruling, the judge extended the term of an independent monitor “for no less than three years,” and ordered the installation of an independent director of compliance. The order keeping Trump and his sons from serving in leadership roles could also be stayed during the appeal process, but at this moment it’s an open question as to how much influence they can wield. And unrelated to this case, but also worth watching, are the four upcoming criminal trials against Trump, the first starting on March 25. And again, election day is just over eight months away.

JIMMY: Well, Joe, we won’t talk for the next eight months, but we’ll stop there for today. And, as always, thanks for keeping an eye on things for us.

JOE: Something tells me I’ll be back soon.

JIMMY: Take care

Junior doctor strikes in England

Information compiled by Jessica Fino

JIMMY: Junior doctors in England will start five days of strike action on Saturday. That, after talks with the government over pay collapsed again.

The British Medical Association, which represents about 173,000 medical professionals across the UK, said the government had declined to extend the current strike mandate to allow negotiations over wages to continue. 

This will be the tenth time junior doctors have taken part in industrial action since March 2023.

During the strike, urgent and life-saving care will still be provided, but routine services will be majorly disrupted. 

About 7,000 cancer operations have reportedly been canceled.

The BMA says the industrial action could still be called off if a credible pay offer is made.

Alongside the strikes in England, junior doctors in Wales walked out for three days earlier this week and their colleagues in Northern Ireland are set to strike in early March.

Belarus parliamentary elections

Information compiled by Jaime Calle Moreno

JIMMY: Belarusians will head to the polls Saturday. They’ll be voting in parliamentary elections certain to be won by parties loyal to President Alexander Lukashenko. 

This will be the first national election campaign in Belarus since large-scale anti-government protests and a subsequent opposition crackdown in August 2020.

Early voting has been taking place since February 20th and around 5,000 polling stations will be open across the country on election day for citizens to cast their votes.

Belarusian authorities said they would not invite observers from the OSCE to oversee the vote.

Several parties were banned by the Supreme Court prior to the elections. Only four are now taking part in the vote, from an original list of 15.

President Lukashenko is widely expected to retain his grip on power, with no credible opposition participating in the vote and over 1,400 political prisoners behind bars.

Thailand and China waive visa restrictions for travelers

Information compiled by Awais Ahmad

JIMMY: China and Thailand will lift reciprocal visa restrictions from Friday, allowing travelers to stay for up to 30 days.

Thailand first waived the visa requirement in September 2023, prompting more than 22,000 Chinese tourists to travel in the first two days alone.

China also initiated a visa-free trial for several countries late last year in an effort to bolster international tourism.

The policy will strengthen ties between China and Thailand and reflects China’s growing influence in southeastern Asia. 

It’s also expected to bring in some much-needed tourism revenue after the sector was badly damaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

Iran parliamentary elections

Information compiled by Agnese Boffano

JIMMY: Iran will hold two elections next Friday. They’ll include parliamentary elections for the 290-seat Islamic Consultative Assembly as well as the Assembly of Experts, that’s the 88 clerics responsible for supervising the Supreme Leader.

The Assembly of Experts, elected every eight years, will most likely be responsible for electing the new supreme leader, as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is now 84 years old.

Current President Ebrahim Raisi is expected to be cleared to run for the Assembly of Experts, with some analysts suggesting he’s favored to replace the Ayatollah.

As for former moderate President Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s Guardian Council, which supervises elections and is dominated by hardliners, rejected his application to run for the assembly. 

Now, this round of elections will be the first since the wave of pro-democracy protests began in September of 2022. Those demonstrations followed the death of Mahsa Amini. As you may recall, she was a Kurdish-Iranian woman who died while in police custody. 

Analysts anticipate a large election boycott and low voter turnout due to popular discontent over the country’s economy. Thirty percent of Iranian households are living below the poverty line as of 2022. 

Also, despite Tehran mending ties with Saudi Arabia, tensions with the United States have soared since Tehran’s support for militant groups, including Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon. 

JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.  

Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Jessica Fino, Jaime Calle Moreno, Awais Ahmad and Agnese Boffano. Our interview featured editor Joe Veyera and our podcast is produced and edited by me – Jimmy Lovaas, with additional writing by Sophie Perryer. Our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

Copyright © 2024 Factal. All rights reserved.

Music: ‘Factal Theme’ courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Top photo: Cerfia FR, Trump Tower, Déc 2022 CC BY 2.0

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