New York judge holds Donald Trump in contempt for failing to comply with civil probe subpoenas
The New York State Supreme Court held former President Donald Trump in contempt on Monday at the urging of Attorney General Letitia James over documents relating to her civil investigation of the Trump Organization that Trump has refused to turn over.
James has amassed substantial evidence that Trump and his business committed tax and bank fraud over the course of several decades by underreporting and overinflating the values of some of his numerous real estate holdings.
Trump has called the probe a "political crusade."
The deadline to comply with James' subpoenas was March 31st.
"The March 31 deadline came and went and we received zero documents. Is Mr. Trump thumbing his nose at this court's order?" attorney Andrew Amer of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP asked the court on behalf of the people, according to reporting by CBS News.
“It’s been pulling teeth to get documents," Assistant Attorney General Kevin Wallace stressed.
Trump's lawyer Alina Habba maintained that the requested materials did not exist.
"There is simply nothing more for him to provide. It was already provided. So your honor, how is President Trump in contempt?" Habba asked.
“The attorney general’s fact-finding endeavor has continued to expand and grow in unreasonable and burdensome ways,” she said. “This is truly a fishing expedition.”
But Judge Arthur Engoron of the New York Supreme Court 1st Judicial District evidently agreed with Amer's assessment.
"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," Engoron said. He also scolded Habba for trying to skirt accountability on a technicality.
"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 referring to Habba's claim that efforts were made to find mobile devices used by Trump and his associates.
"There is a difference between saying something and saying something under oath," Engoron added, per The Daily Beast. "Let's say you're going to say, 'I searched the files outside his office.' I have to have an affidavit that says 'I searched the files outside his office.'"
Habba, however, insisted that serial liar Trump should be taken at his word.
“Donald Trump does not believe he's above the law,” Habba said. “He doesn’t have anything more to give. My client is an honest person, much to the dismay of people in this room.”
Trump now faces a fine of $10,000 per day for each day the subpoenas go unanswered.
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