Judge rules Donald Trump is no longer in contempt of court for failing to comply with the New York Attorney General’s subpoena demanding documents from the president’s company
- Donald Trump has been formally released from an order finding him in contempt of court for having failed to comply with a subpoena from the NY AG
- Attorney General Letitia James is investigating the former U.S. president’s business practices
- Justice Arthur Engoron purged the subpoena after James agreed that Trump’s recent submissions from his personal records were sufficient
- Judge had found Trump in contempt on April 25 and ordered him to pay $10,000 a day until he complied with James’ subpoena, which was issued in December
- Trump accumulated $110,000 in fines before Engoron stopped them accruing
- Trump has paid the fines, which will remain in escrow while he appeals the original contempt filing
- James, a Democrat, has spent more than three years investigating the Trump Organization, which manages hotels, golf courses and other real estate globally
- In January she said that her civil probe had uncovered ‘significant’ new evidence that the company had overstated asset values to obtain favorable loan terms
- She also said the Trump Org thenunderstated those values to get tax breaks
- Trump, a Republican, has called James’ probe a politically motivated witch hunt
- Trump and two of his children, Donald Jr and Ivanka expected to testify under oath from on July 15, after two state courts refused to block their depositions
Donald Trump is no longer in contempt of court, a New York judge ruled on Wednesday.
Judge Arthur Engoron, who declared the former president in contempt on April 25 for being slow to respond to a civil subpoena issued by New York’s attorney general, said he has now met conditions required to lift the sanction following a protracted legal battle.
Trump last month paid $110,000 in fines he racked up as a result of the contempt finding.
The money, paid directly to Attorney General Letitia James’ office, will continue to be held in an escrow account while Trump appeals the original contempt finding, Engoron said on Wednesday.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has been investigating the Trump Organization since 2019. She subpoenaed Donald Trump and his two eldest children late last year
Trump and his two oldest children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., are scheduled to testify under oath in James’ investigation starting July 15 after the state’s highest court rejected his last-ditch attempt to avoid a subpoena.
‘Although we are pleased that the court has lifted the contempt finding, we maintain that it was wholly unwarranted and improper in the first place,’ Trump lawyer Alina Habba said. ‘We will push ahead with our appeal to secure justice for our client.’
The attorney general asked Engoron to find Trump in contempt of court after he failed to produce any documents to satisfy a March 31 deadline to meet the terms of her subpoena.
Engoron fined Trump $10,000 per day for not complying but stopped the fine from accruing in early May, when it appeared a resolution to the dispute was near.
Trump and his two oldest children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., are scheduled to testify under oath in James’ investigation starting July 15 after the state’s highest court rejected his last-ditch attempt to avoid a subpoena
Engoron originally agreed May 11 to lift Trump’s contempt order if he paid the fines and met certain other conditions, including the submission of affidavits describing his search efforts and his company’s document retention policies.
Engoron and the attorney general’s office were unsatisfied with the level of detail in Trump’s submissions, leaving the contempt finding in effect while new affidavits were prepared.
The judge also required a company hired by Trump to aid in the search, HaystackID, to finish going through 17 boxes kept in off-site storage, report its findings and turn over any relevant documents. That process was completed last month, James’ office said.
Engoron stopped the fine from accruing May 6, when Trump’s lawyers submitted 66 pages of court documents detailing the efforts by him and his lawyers to locate the subpoenaed records.
He previously warned that he could reinstate it, retroactive to May 7, if his conditions weren’t met.
James’ office claims to have uncovered ‘substantial evidence’ that the Trump Organization knowingly used misleading financial statements in its business dealings for at least a decade
James, a Democrat, has said her three-year investigation uncovered evidence that Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misstated the value of assets like skyscrapers and golf courses on financial statements for over a decade.
Her subpoena sought documents pertaining to his annual financial statements, development projects, and even communications with Forbes magazine, where he sought to burnish his image as a wealthy businessperson.
Trump, a Republican, has denied the allegations. He has called James’ investigation ‘racist’ and a politically motivated ‘witch hunt.’ James is Black. Trump’s lawyers have accused her of selective prosecution.
Trump’s lawyers contend James is using her civil investigation to gain access to information that could then be used against him in a parallel criminal investigation being conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, also a Democrat.
A federal judge last month dismissed a lawsuit Trump brought against James, rejecting his claim that she targeted him out of political animus and allowing her civil investigation into his business practices to continue.
At a court hearing in that matter, a lawyer for James’ office said evidence found in the probe could support legal action against the former president, his company or both.
The lawyer, Andrew Amer, said at a hearing in Trump’s lawsuit against James that ‘there’s clearly been a substantial amount of evidence amassed that could support the filing of an enforcement proceeding,’ although a final determination on filing such an action has not been made.