Donald Trump held in contempt in New York attorney general’s investigation

A New York judge has held Donald Trump in contempt and fined him $10,000 a day, following the former president’s failure to hand over documents to prosecutors investigating his business practices.

Letitia James, the New York state attorney general, had asked for the contempt finding this month stating that Trump had not complied with a subpoena requiring him to produce documents and information.

James’ ​​civil investigation has focused on whether the Trump Organization misstated the values of its real estate properties to obtain favorable loans and tax deductions. Earlier in April James said investigators had found “significant evidence” of wrongdoing.

In a court filing then, the New York attorney general said Trump failed to abide by his earlier agreement to comply “in full” with her subpoena for documents and information by 31 March.

On Monday, Judge Arthur Engoron, a New York state supreme court judge, agreed with James that Trump was in contempt of court.

“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 in a hearing.

James previously said her investigation had found evidence suggesting that for more than a decade the company’s financial statements “relied on misleading asset valuations and other misrepresentations to secure economic benefits”.

In mid-April, an attorney for Trump said his team had tried to comply with the subpoena, but despite “a diligent search”, the legal team had found Trump “is not in possession of any of the requested documents”.

CBS News reported that Alina Habba, Trump’s attorney, said Trump’s company might have the requested documents, which include tax audit materials, instead.

Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and has not been accused of criminal wrongdoing. He has called the investigation a “witch-hunt”.

In a court filing then, James said Trump had failed to abide by his earlier agreement to comply “in full” with her subpoena for documents and information by 31 March.

James asked that Trump be fined $10,000 a day until he complied.

“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.

James’s three-year investigation and a parallel criminal inquiry led by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, have focused on whether the Trump Organization misstated the values of its real estate properties to obtain favorable loans and tax deductions.

Bragg has been dogged, however, by resignations by senior prosecutors involved in the case, while insisting his investigation was continuing.

Trump’s legal woes are rapidly engulfing him.

Earlier, James said her investigation had found “significant evidence” suggesting that for more than a decade the company’s financial statements “relied on misleading asset valuations and other misrepresentations to secure economic benefits”.

On Monday, James said in a statement after Engoron’s ruling: “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. Today’s ruling makes clear: no one is above the law.”

The contempt finding by the judge came despite a spirited argument by Habba, who insisted repeatedly that she went to great lengths to comply with the subpoena, even traveling to Florida to ask Trump specifically whether he had in his possession any documents that would be responsive to the demand.

“The contempt motion is inappropriate and misleading,” she said. “He complied … There are no more documents left to produce by President Trump.”

She also derided the James investigation as “political” and “truly a fishing expedition,” saying Trump and his companies had turned over more than six million documents and paperwork related to 103 Trump entities over an eight-year period.

Trump spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the James case or his other legal challenges.

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