New York Attorney General asks judge to hold Donald Trump in contempt

New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, speaks during a news conference, to announce criminal justice reform in New York City, U.S., May 21, 2021.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

New York Attorney General Letitia James asked a judge Thursday to hold former President Donald Trump in contempt of court for refusing to comply with a judge’s order to turn over documents for her investigation of his company.

James also asked Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron to fine Trump $10,000 for every day he fails to surrender those documents.

The attorney general also says in a court filing that Trump is in violation of Engoron’s order to give the state’s investigators the documents by March 31 pursuant to a subpoena, a deadline that had previously been extended from March 3.

James is investigating allegations that the Trump Organization manipulated the stated values of various real estate assets to get better financial terms when applying for loans and insurance, and for tax purposes.

“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.

“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.”

Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba, in an emailed statement to CNBC, wrote, “We are prepared to adamantly oppose the frivolous and baseless motion filed by the Attorney General’s office today.”

“Our client has consistently complied with the many discovery requests served by the Attorney General’s office over the years,” Habba wrote. 

Engoron in February ordered Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump to answer questions under oath from James’ investigators and ordered Trump individually to give James’ office additional documents.

While Trump appealed the order that he submit to questioning, he did not appeal the order to surrender the documents.

And “rather than ‘comply in full’ with the Court’s unambiguous directive by producing all responsive documents by March 31, Mr. Trump did not comply at all,” James said in her filing.

Instead, Trump raised objections to “each of the eight document requests in the subpoena based on grounds such as overbreadth, burden, and lack of particularity,” the filing said.

Trump also said that subject to his objections he “would not produce any documents” responsive to the subpoena because his lawyer said that none of the documents could be found, the filing said.

Trump also claimed that his lawyer believed that even if the documents existed “the Trump Organization has them” and the attorney general “will just have to wait until the Trump Organization completes its production to get them,” the filing said.

Last week, in another court filing, James said her investigation has “uncovered significant evidence” that financial statements by the Trump Organization relied on misleading valuations of its real estate assets for more than a decade.

Those potentially misleading valuations “and other misrepresentations” were used by the company “to secure economic benefits — including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions — on terms more favorable than the true facts warranted,” that earlier filing said.

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