Trump files an affidavit saying he does not have the documents sought in the civil investigation, but the court continues with the $10,000-per-day fine.
A New York judge expressed surprise that former US President Donald Trump, a man he described as perhaps the world’s most famous real estate developer, failed to provide any documents requested in an investigation by the Trump Organization, the his family business.
Judge Arthur Engoron in New York State Court in Manhattan said in a virtual hearing Friday that he would continue to hold the former president in contempt of court and fine $10,000 a day despite a request from Trump’s attorney to lift both orders.
“This is Donald Trump, possibly the most famous real estate developer in the world,” the judge said. “I’m surprised he doesn’t seem to have any documents; everyone is with the organization”.
On Monday, Engoron issued the warrants for Trump’s failure to subpoena documents from New York Attorney General Letitia James. On Wednesday, Trump signed an affidavit in which he said that he did not believe he had any relevant documents and that, if there were, the Trump Organization would have them.
On Friday, Engoron, who read Trump’s affidavit at the hearing, said the document bore “his inimitable signature” in what appeared to be a Sharpie, a mark of writing implement. But he said he lacked useful details about where Trump kept his records.
To purge the contempt finding, Trump would have to submit an affidavit swearing where his files were located, how they were stored and who had access to them, as well as declaring whether he turned over his personal electronic devices for searching and images, the judge later said. in a written order.
“You can fine us for 10 months, but you won’t get any more documents from Donald Trump,” said his lawyer Alina Habba. “He doesn’t have the documents you want.”
trump had appealed Engoron’s decision earlier this week.
James, a Democrat, has been investigating whether Trump, a Republican, inflated the value of their assets to improperly obtain bank loans and other economic benefits.
Trump denies any wrongdoing and says investigations into his business practices are politically motivated. Last year, sued james to block the probe. The lawsuit called the investigation “baseless” and a “malicious fishing expedition” aimed at harassing the former president.
In turn, James has accused the former president of trying to stall the investigation.
“The judge’s order was clear: Donald J Trump is in contempt of court and must pay $10,000 per day until he complies with our subpoenas,” the attorney general said in a statement after Trump filed his appeal on Wednesday.
“We have seen this playbook before, and it has never stopped our investigation of Mr. Trump and his organization. This time is no different.”
Trump’s lawyers have insisted that “all documents responsive to the subpoena were submitted to the attorney general months ago,” but James’ office said it received “zero documents” from Trump in late March.
The New York attorney general opened the civil investigation in 2019 after Trump’s former personal lawyer miguel cohen testified in Congress that the former president exaggerated his wealth “when it served his purposes.”
Trump was impeached twice as president, including in early 2021 for inciting a riot in the US Capitol as lawmakers certified the electoral victory of his successor, Joe Biden, but the Senate acquitted him on votes for his party.