On Monday, a New York judge held former President Donald Trump in contempt and fined him $10,000 a day for failing to comply with a subpoena requiring him to turn over documents to investigators conducting a sprawling financial fraud probe for the New York attorney general. York, Letitia James.
“Mr. Trump, I know you take your business seriously and I take mine seriously. I hereby hold you in civil contempt and fine you $10,000 a day,” said the New York Supreme Court Justice, Arthur Engoron. The judge’s written order will be filed tomorrow.
james officeafter Trump missed a court-ordered March 31 deadline to turn over subpoenaed material, of the documents required in the civil investigation.
“The March 31 deadline came and went and we didn’t get any documents,” Andrew Amer, an attorney with James’s office, said in court Monday. Amer later asked, “Is Mr. Trump flouting this court’s order?”
Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, said she personally oversaw the search for documents, including the flight to Florida to interview Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club.
“There is simply nothing more he can provide. It has already been provided. So, your honor, how is President Trump in contempt?” Habba asked.
But Engoron seemed to believe that explanation raised more questions about Trump’s response to the subpoena, asking Habba why he didn’t pre-document the Mar-a-Lago interview.
“I feel like there’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room, and that’s it, why don’t we have an affidavit on him?” Engoron asked, then added, “There’s a difference between saying something and saying something under oath.”
Investigators want information from three mobile devices belonging to Trump, two of which are personal and one of which is a company-issued phone, according to a document filed by James’ office on Friday. Amer said Monday that they have not received any data from either device.
They are also seeking documents from specific Trump Organization file storage locations, such as “the files located in the cabinets outside of Mr. Trump’s office,” “the vault next to Mr. Trump’s office,” “the closet “Executive Office Storage” and “the file cabinets located on the 25th and 26th floors”.
In a sometimes testy back-and-forth between Habba, Engoron and his secretary Allison Greenfield, Engoron said Trump’s lawyers failed to explain what they looked for and how.
“Let’s say you’re going to say, ‘I looked in the files outside of your office.’ I have to have an affidavit that says ‘I reviewed the files outside of your office,'” Engoron said.
Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, received the order on February 17,in James’ . They appealed the summons and are awaiting a decision on that appeal. Trump did not contest a separate part of that Feb. 17 ruling in which he was ordered to comply with James’ document subpoena.
Engoron ordered Trump to comply by March 3 and then extended that deadline to March 31, a date agreed upon by both sides at the time, according to a court document.
James’ office said in a February news release that its extensive investigation has collected evidence “demonstrating that Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization used fraudulent and misleading financial statements for financial gain.” The initial focus of the investigation was on whether the Trump Organization inflated asset valuations while seeking loans and insurance coverage, and written down their value to reduce tax liability.
Trump and his company have repeatedly denied all allegations of wrongdoing. Habba reiterated that Monday, calling the investigation “a political crusade.”
The attorney general’s office and the Trump Organization are nearing the end of their temporary agreement, which temporarily halts some statutes of limitations during the production of documents. A lawyer for the attorney general’s office indicated that once the deadline passes it can lead to a civil “execution” against the company.
“It is likely that we will have to take some type of legal action in the near future to preserve our rights,” said Kevin Wallace of the attorney general’s office.
That investigation, which on July 1, 2021 led toseems stagnant.
Two top prosecutors, Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, resigned in February, less than two months after newly elected Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg took office, replacing Cyrus Vance Jr., who launched the investigation in August. 2018. At Pomerantz’spublished in The New York Times, Pomerantz wrote that Vance “concluded that the facts warranted prosecution” but that Bragg had “made the decision … not to press criminal charges at this time.”
Bragg said in an April 7 statement that the criminaland its investigators and prosecutors are “exploring previously unexplored evidence.”