New York attorney general wants Trump held in contempt, fined $10,000 per day
New York's attorney general asked a state judge Thursday to issue an order of contempt against former President Donald Trump, claiming he has failed to comply with a previous ruling requiring him to turn over documents by March 31 as part of an investigation into his company's financial practices.
The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James also requested that Trump be fined $10,000 a day until he complies with the ruling.
Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, were ordered on Feb. 17 to appear for depositions in James' long-running civil fraud probe. They appealed the order to appear, but did not at that time challenge a separate part of that ruling in which Donald Trump was ordered to comply with a subpoena "seeking documents and information."
The judge ordered Trump to comply with the demand for documents and information by March 3, and later extended that deadline to March 31 — a date that was agreed to by both sides at the time, according to a court document. In Thursday's filing, James' office said Trump has not only failed to comply with that order, but in recent days raised objections to it.
James' office said in Thursday's filing that Trump's attorneys later indicated that he would not produce any of the subpoenaed documents "because his counsel (based on search efforts that have not been divulged) could not find any."
"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."
An attorney for Trump did not immediately return a request for comment.
James' office claimed in a February press release that its wide-ranging investigation has collected evidence "showing that Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization used fraudulent and misleading financial statements to obtain economic benefit." The initial focus of the probe was on whether the Trump Organization inflated the valuations of assets while seeking loans and insurance coverage, and deflated their value to reduce tax liability.
James' investigation was cited by accounting firm Mazars USA in a Feb. 9 letter recanting a decade of financial statements compiled for the Trump Organization. As part of its probe, James' office is also seeking information from a second accounting firm that did work for Trump's company, RSM US LLP.
Trump and the company have repeatedly denied all allegations of wrongdoing. He called the investigation "unconstitutional" in a Dec. 20 phone call with CBS News, and referred to himself as "an aggrieved and innocent party." That day, Trump filed a federal suit aiming to halt James' investigation.
In Thursday's motion, James' office said Trump and his company have also stymied efforts by HaystackID, a company hired by court-order to collect so-called eDiscovery material, which includes documents and data.
"The Trump Organization is not presently searching any of Mr. Trump's custodial files or devices, and has no intention of doing so between now and April 15, 2022," James' office wrote in Thursday's filing.
Jame's investigation has run parallel to a separate criminal probe run by the Manhattan District Attorney's office. That investigation, which on July 1, 2021 led to charges against the Trump Organization and its CFO, appears stalled.
Two leading prosecutors, Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, resigned in February, less than two months after newly-elected Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg took office, succeeding Cyrus Vance Jr., who launched the investigation in August 2018. In Pomerantz's resignation letter, which was published in The New York Times, Pomerantz wrote that Vance "concluded that the facts warranted prosecution," but that Bragg had "reached the decision … not to seek criminal charges at the present time."
Bragg said in a statement Thursday that the investigation "is continuing" and that his investigators and prosecutors are "exploring evidence not previously explored."
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