A New York judge held former President Donald Trump in contempt on Monday for his ‘repeated delays and failures’ to comply the state attorney general’s investigation into Trump’s business practices.
Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump to be fined $10,000 per day until he complies with the court’s requirements.
‘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 per day until you purge that contempt,’ Engoron said before issuing the ruling from a Manhattan courtroom.
Trump had tried to stop a subpoena from James’ office, then failed to produce all the documents needed by a March 3 deadline, which was later extended to March 31 at his attorney’s request.
James, a Democrat, had asked the court to hold Trump in contempt after he failed to turn over documents. Over the past three years, she has investigated his family’s business, the Trump Organization, and says she has evidence the company manipulated the value of its assets for financial gain.
Trump, a Republican, has been fighting James on her investigation, calling it a ‘witch hunt.’
The judge said a contempt finding was appropriate given Trump and his lawyers hadn’t shown that they had conducted a proper search for the records James demanded with the subpoena.
The move comes despite the best efforts of Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba.
Habba repeatedly told the judge she went to great lengths to comply with the subpoena, even going as far as traveling to Florida to ask Trump specifically if he had any documents that would fit the demand.
‘The contempt motion is inappropriate and misleading,’ she said. ‘He complied. … There are no more documents left to produce by President Trump.’
The ruling is a victory for James’ office, whose lengthy investigation has centered around what she calls a pattern of misleading banks and tax authorities about the value of Trump’s properties.
Her office claims the family company, the Trump Organization, partook in ‘fraudulent or misleading’ practices involving the statements.
While James does not have the authority to file criminal charges against Trump, her investigation is taking place at the same time as a criminal investigation led by the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is looking into the same issues.
James is looking to question the former President and two of his children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr, though lawyers for the family are trying to block the effort.
Following the judge’s decision, James took to Twitter and said: 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,’ she later added in a statement. ‘Today’s ruling makes clear: No one is above the law.’
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