Judge holds Trump in contempt for failing to turn over documents

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A New York judge on Monday held former President Donald Trump in contempt, and fined him $10,000 per day, for failing to comply with a subpoena requiring he turn over documents to investigators conducting a sprawling financial fraud probe for New York Attorney General 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 New York Supreme Court judge Arthur Engoron. Tomorrow, the judge will file a written order. Alina Habba, Trump attorney, stated after the hearing that they intend to appeal.

” We respectfully disagree today’s court decision. Habba stated that all documents that were responsive to the subpoena were already provided to the attorney general a month ago.

James’ office asked for the contempt finding after Trump failed to meet a court-ordered March 31 deadline to turn over subpoenaed material, claiming he had none of the documents demanded in the civil probe.

“The March 31 deadline came and went and we received zero documents,” Andrew Amer, an attorney for James’ office, said in court Monday. Amer asked Amer later, “Is Mr. Trump thumbing at this court order?”

Trump attorney Alina habba stated that she personally oversaw the search of documents and flew to Florida to interview Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

” He has nothing else to offer. It was already provided. Your honor, how is Trump in contempt? Habba asked.

But Engoron seemed to believe that explanation raised additional questions about Trump’s response. Habba asked Habba why she hadn’t previously documented the Mar-a-Lago interview.

“I feel like there’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room, and that is, why don’t we have an affidavit from him?” Engoron replied, adding that there is a difference in saying something and 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 filing James’ office made Friday. Amer stated Monday that they have not received any data from any of these devices.

They are also seeking documents from specific Trump Organization file storage locations, such as “the files located in cabinets outside Mr. Trump’s office,” “the storage room by Mr. Trump’s office,” “the Executive Office storage closet” and “the file cabinets located on the 25th and 26th floors. In a sometimes heated back and forth between Habba and Engoron and his clerk Allison Greenfield. Engoron claimed that Trump’s lawyers failed to explain what they searched and how.

“Let’s say that you want to say, “I searched the files outside of his office.” Engoron stated that I must have an affidavit stating that he searched his files outside of his office.

Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, were ordered on February 17 to appear for depositions in James’ long-running civil fraud probe. They appealed the order and are currently awaiting a decision. Trump did not challenge a separate part of that February 17 ruling in which he was ordered to comply with James’ subpoena for documents.

Engoron ordered Trump to comply by March 3, and later extended that deadline to March 31 — a date that was agreed to by both sides at the time, according to a court document.

James claimed in a February press statement that their extensive investigation had collected evidence “showing Donald J. Trump’s and the Trump Organization used misleading and fraudulent financial statements to gain economic benefit.” The probe began with the question of whether Trump Organization inflated the assets’ valuations while seeking loans or insurance coverage. It also investigated whether they deflated the value of the assets to reduce tax liability.

Trump has repeatedly denied any allegations of wrongdoing. Habba repeated that Monday, calling it a “political crusade.” “

The tolling agreement between the Trump Organization and the attorney general is nearing its end. This temporarily suspends certain statutes of limitations during document production. A lawyer for the attorney general indicated that the deadline could be extended to bring civil “enforcement” against Trump Organization.

” “We will likely have to bring some kind of enforcement action in order to preserve our rights,” Kevin Wallace, the attorney general’s representative said.

That investigation, which on July 1, 2021 led to charges against the Trump Organization and its CFO, appears stalled.

Two leading prosecutors, Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, resigned in February, less than two months after newly-elected Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg took office, succeeding Cyrus Vance Jr., who launched the investigation in August 2018. In Pomerantz’s resignation letter, which was published in The New York Times, Pomerantz wrote that Vance “concluded that the facts warranted prosecution,” but that Bragg had “reached the decision … not to seek criminal charges at the present time. “

Bragg said in an April 7 statement that the criminal investigation “is continuing” and his investigators and prosecutors are “exploring evidence not previously explored. “

Graham Kates

Graham Kates, an investigative reporter for CBS News Digital, covers criminal justice, privacy and information security. Contact Graham at KatesG@cbsnews.com or grahamkates@protonmail.com

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