Trump held in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents to N.Y. AG Letitia James

·Senior Editor
·3-min read

A New York judge held former President Donald Trump in contempt of court Monday because of the Trump Organization's refusal to turn over documents to New York Attorney General Letitia James as part of an ongoing investigation into whether it fraudulently reported the value of real estate holdings in financial statements.

State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump must pay a fine of $10,000 per day until he complies with a subpoena for business records related to the investigation.

“Mr. Trump, I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously,” Engoron said when handing down the fine, although Trump was not present.

Trump's lawyer in the case, Alina Habba, said she would appeal the judge's ruling and has asserted that the Trump Organization was not in possession of the documents being sought by the attorney general.

James, whose investigation centers on whether the Trump Organization misstated the real estate values of skyscrapers and golf courses to obtain better loan and insurance terms, had asked the judge to impose the fine. As part of her investigation, James is also seeking to interview two of the former president's children, Ivanka and Donald Jr. In March, Engoron sided with James, ruling that the younger Trumps could be deposed in the investigation. Trump's lawyers have also appealed that decision.

James said her office had requested documents from the Trump Organization on multiple occasions, only to be stonewalled. The court had set a March 31 deadline for the company to hand over more documents, to which Trump's lawyers agreed, but the date that came and went. That prompted James's office to seek a contempt ruling from the judge.

“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,” James said on April 7.

Letitia James speaking.
New York Attorney General Letitia James. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Engoron viewed Habba's assertion that Trump was not in possession of the requested documents skeptically, noting that such assurances were not legally binding.

"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 asked last month, adding, "There is a difference between saying something and saying something under oath."

Last week, Trump railed against James in a written statement.

“With the horrible Subway Shootings and Violent Crime in New York being at an all-time high, where people are afraid to walk the streets, the racist and highly partisan Attorney General of New York State, failed Gubernatorial candidate Letitia James, should focus her efforts on saving the State of New York and ending its reputation as a Crime Capital of the World, instead of spending millions of dollars and utilizing a large portion of her office in going after Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization (for many years!), who have probably done more for New York than virtually any other person or group, including employing many wonderful people and paying millions and millions of dollars in taxes​,” the former president said in the statement.

Trump is also under investigation by the Manhattan district attorney over fraudulent business practices. The former president has stated that both investigations are politically motivated.

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