Politics

New York judge holds Donald Trump in contempt for failing to comply with subpoena for business documents

Key Points
  • A New York judge held former President Donald Trump in contempt of court for failing to comply with a subpoena for business documents related to an investigation by the state attorney general's office.
  • Trump will have to pay $10,000 per day for as long as he fails to comply with the subpoena.
  • The contempt finding in a Manhattan courtroom came after a more than two-hour hearing in which lawyers for New York Attorney General Letitia James blasted Trump for dragging his feet in turning over the demanded documents.
  • James is investigating the Trump Organization over allegations that it improperly manipulated the stated values of various real estate assets to obtain more favorable financial terms for loans and insurance coverage, and to lower their taxes.
Trump held in contempt in New York, must pay $10K a day in fines
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Trump held in contempt in New York, must pay $10K a day in fines

A New York judge held former President Donald Trump in contempt of court Monday for failing to comply with a subpoena for business documents related to a civil investigation by the state attorney general's office of his company.

Trump will have to pay $10,000 per day for as long as he fails to comply with the subpoena.

The contempt finding by Judge Arthur Engoron in Manhattan Supreme Court came after a more than two-hour hearing in which lawyers for New York Attorney General Letitia James blasted Trump for dragging his feet in turning over the demanded documents.

James is investigating the Trump Organization over allegations that it improperly manipulated the stated values of various real estate assets to obtain more favorable financial terms for loans and insurance coverage, and to lower their taxes.

"Mr. Trump … I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously. I hereby hold you in civil contempt," Engoron said, although Trump was not in the courtroom, Reuters reported.

Anti-Trump demonstrators gather outside of the New York County Supreme Court in New York City, U.S., April 25, 2022. 
David Dee Delgado | Reuters

Engoron cited Trump's "repeated failures" to turn over material sought by James' investigators.

The fine associated with the contempt order immediately takes effect.

James promptly tweeted. "Today, justice prevailed."

"For years, Donald Trump has tried to evade the law and stop our lawful investigation into him and his company's financial dealings," James later said in a statement.

"Today's ruling makes clear: No one is above the law."

Trump's lawyer in the case, Alina Habba, in a statement said he would appeal the contempt finding.

"We respectfully disagree with the court's decision," Habba said. "All documents responsive to the subpoena were produced to the attorney general months ago. The only issue raised by the attorney general at today's hearing was with an affidavit submitted which copied the form mandated by the attorney general."

"This does not even come close to meeting the standard on a motion for contempt and, thus, we intend to appeal," she said.

Habba had told Engoron during Monday's hearing that Trump did not deserve to be held in contempt, saying the Trump Organization was "right on schedule" with turning over documents sought by the attorney general.

Habba also called the probe by the Democrat James "a political crusade," echoing criticism of the investigation by the Republican Trump.

Last week, Habba said in a legal filing that a search of records found that Trump "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."

Anti-Trump demonstrators gather outside of the New York County Supreme Court in New York City, U.S., April 25, 2022. 
David Dee Delgado | Reuters

James had asked Engoron on April 7 to hold Trump in contempt of court, saying the ex-president had failed to meet a March 31 deadline for giving her investigators documents pursuant to the subpoena. Trump already had received a nearly month-long extension of the original deadline for that subpoena.

"The judge's order was crystal clear: Donald J. Trump must comply with our subpoena and turn over relevant documents to my office," James said in a statement.

"Instead of obeying a court order, Mr. Trump is trying to evade it. We are seeking the court's immediate intervention because no one is above the law."

Trump is appealing another order by Engoron that he answer questions under oath by James' investigators.

- Additional reporting by Kevin Breuninger