The appeals department on Tuesday denied the former Trump’s request to stay the order that held him for contempt of court for refusing to respond to the New York Attorney General’s subpoena.
The contempt injunction remains in place, and with it the daily $10,000 fine Trump is scheduled to pay, until he either turns over relevant documents or convinces the judge he did a thorough search and doesn’t have any.
It comes after a New York judge on Friday denied a similar request by Trump’s legal team to remove the civil disregard for the court’s ruling.
In that ruling, Judge Arthur Engoron despised Trump for failing to comply with a subpoena for evidence in the attorney general’s civil investigation into his business dealings.
Trump said in an affidavit that he had no documents subpoenaed by New York City Attorneys, but Judge Engoron remained dissatisfied and denied the request.
“To the best of my knowledge, (i) I do not have in my personal possession any of the documents requested in the December 1, 2021 subpoena; and (ii) if there are any documents responsive to the subpoena, I believe they would be in the possession or custody of the Trump Organization,” Trump’s affidavit said. “At all relevant times, I have authorized and continue to authorize the issuance of a relevant document to the Office of the Attorney General.”
However, the judge was unperturbed and refused to lift the sanctions. In addition, Engoron criticized the lack of detail in Trump’s two-paragraph affidavit, saying he should have explained the methods he uses to store his records and the efforts he has made to recover the subpoenaed files to find.
In other affidavits, Trump attorneys Alina Habba and Michael Madaio have described the steps they took to locate documents in the Dec. 1 subpoena, including meeting with Trump last month in Mar-a-Lago in Florida and reviewing previous searches of his company’s files.
Andrew Amer, a lawyer for the attorney general’s office, said in a court filing that while the affidavits provide “some additional information” about Trump’s efforts to comply with the subpoena, more extensive searches are required — including Trump Tower, his homes and electronic devices – before the judge should consider reversing the contempt finding.
Attorney General Letitia James said her investigation uncovered evidence that Trump had misstated the value of assets like skyscrapers and golf courses in his financial statements for more than a decade. Her December 1 subpoena requested numerous documents, including filings and notices pertaining to its financial statements and various development projects.
James asked Engoron to despise Trump after he failed to produce any documents by a March 31 court deadline. In his ruling, Engoron said that Trump and his attorneys not only failed to meet the deadline, but also failed to document the steps they took to search for the documents, as required by the case law.
Trump is suing James in federal court to stop their investigation. Oral hearings on the matter are scheduled for May 13.
Trump recently referred to her as a “Democratic Party agent” and said in written statements that her investigation and a parallel criminal investigation being led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg are “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time.”
Bragg said this month the 3-year criminal investigation he inherited from predecessor Cyrus Vance Jr. in January is proceeding “without fear or favor” despite a recent shake in the investigation’s leadership. Trump’s attorneys allege that James is using their civil investigation to gain access to information that could then be used against him in the criminal investigation.
So far, prosecutors’ investigations have only led to tax fraud allegations against the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, relating to lucrative fringe benefits like rent, car payments and tuition. The company and Weisselberg have pleaded not guilty.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
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https://abc13.com/donald-trump-contempt-appeal-letitia-james-appellate-division/11815097/ Court of Appeal dismisses Donald Trump’s appeal of the contempt verdict, a $10,000-a-day fine