In breaking news, a New York judge has ruled that former President Donald Trump is in contempt for not complying with a subpoena to provide requested documents pertaining to an investigation into his business dealings.
Further, the judge has ordered that Trump be fined $10,000 a day until he complies with New York Attorney General Letitia James’ request for specified business documents.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron wrote: “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.”
Trump was held in contempt for failing to comply with a court-ordered March 31 deadline to turn over the documents.
Though Trump’s attorneys claimed that the former President did not have the documents requested in the AG’s civil probe, Engoron ruled there wasn’t evidence to show that Trump had conducted a proper search.
The investigation is being spurred on by avid never-Trumper Attorney General James who is now requesting that the judge fine Trump $10,000 each day he delays in responding to the subpoena.
Following Trump’s refusal to comply with the subpoena, James filed a contempt motion that stated: “Mr. Trump’s purported ‘Response’ violates the Court’s order; it is not full compliance or any degree of compliance, but simply more delay and obfuscation.”
Trump asserts he is not in possession of any documents requested by the New York attorney general’s office and therefore should not be held in contempt.
Trump attorney Alina Habba said in the court filing last Tuesday: “After conducting a diligent search and review, Respondent’s counsel determined that Respondent was not in possession of any documents responsive to the Subpoena and that all potentially responsive documents were in the possession, custody or control of the Trump Organization.”
Attorneys working for James accused Trump of “intransigence” and “subterfuge” for refusing to comply with her office’s demand for documents.
Many view the public war of words as a spectacle and unbecoming.
Trump released the following statement on Easter Sunday: “Happy Easter to failed gubernatorial candidate and racist Attorney General Letitia James. May she remain healthy despite the fact that she will continue to drive business out of New York while at the same time keeping crime, death, and destruction in New York!”
Trump asserts James’ intent to prosecute is politically motivated.
James denies the claim tweeting, “no one is above the law.”
James’ investigation is a civil matter and therefore will not lead to criminal charges. However, The Hill notes that a Manhattan district attorney probe has led to the indictment of the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer.
James asserts that the Trump Organization inflated the value of its assets for financial gain. Her office claims to have “significant” evidence pointing to rampant fraud, but this has not been publicly disclosed.
At least one state court judge reportedly has reviewed the case put forward by James and appears to agree that further investigation is warranted.
In February, New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron rejected Trump’s effort to block James’ subpoena, ordering Trump to comply with James’ request.
Engoron wrote: “In the final analysis, if a State Attorney General commences investigating a business entity, uncovers copious evidence of possible financial fraud, and wants to question, under oath, several of the entities’ principals, including its namesake. She has the clear right to do so,” the judge said.
Trump appealed Engoron’s order. The appeal is currently pending before the state’s appellate court.
Habba has echoed Trump’s charge that the contempt motion was politically motivated: “Given the OAG’s [Office of the Attorney General] recalcitrant behavior, it is fair to question the OAG’s motive in bringing the instant application, which appears to be little more than a contrived publicity stunt.”
The outcome of the imminent ruling is unclear. The Hill notes that E. Danya Perry, a former New York state deputy attorney general, said: “judges have broad discretion in determining whether litigants have defied court orders and what sanctions to impose in order to coerce compliance, but that they typically avoid imposing punitive measures.”
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