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Longtime Trump assistant Rhona Graff "cast doubt" on his sworn statement, N.Y. attorney general says

Judge lifts contempt finding against Trump
New York judge lifts contempt finding against Trump, pending certain conditions 04:55

Rhona Graff, who worked for years as executive assistant to Donald Trump, "cast doubt on the completeness of" a sworn affidavit submitted by Trump in May in an effort to clear a judge's finding of contempt, according to a Monday filing by the New York Attorney General's Office.

Trump was held in contempt April 25 after claiming he had no documents demanded in a subpoena by investigators for New York Attorney General Letitia James. Her office sought records related to Trump's personal finances, as well as information related to the financing of several properties. 

As part of the former president's effort to clear the contempt ruling, Trump said in an affidavit that "it has been my customary practice to delegate document handling and retention responsibilities to my executive assistants."

But in her May 31 deposition, Graff, who worked for Trump for more than two decades, said that statement was "very general. It doesn't mean (executive assistants) handled every document and maintained everything that came out of his office."

Trump "had an inbox and an outbox," Graff said. If material was sent to him in a folder, Graff "didn't think it was my position to look inside," she said, adding that Trump "maybe on the outside would have said to return to so and so, whoever gave it to him." 

In section of Graff's deposition filed publicly Monday, she explained that Trump's instructions would be relayed to whichever person or department he directed the document to, each of whom had their own retention and destruction practices.

Rhona Graff in 2005. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

"The accounting department had things relevant to [Mr. Trump] there, the hotel department may have had records relevant to him there, the golf division may have had records relevant to him, the legal department. I mean, they retained their own records of communications with him. I did not," Graff said.

James' office, which is conducting a widespread civil fraud probe of Trump and his company, has asked the judge to give Trump's team until June 13 to produce new documents from "at a minimum the legal, accounting, hotel, and golf club departments."

Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, wrote in a letter to the court Tuesday that "Graff's testimony is not inconsistent with" Trump's affidavit.

"In fact, her testimony actually confirmed that (Trump's) customary practice was to delegate his document retention policies to his executive assistants," Habba wrote, accusing James' office of "overreaching."

An attorney for Graff did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump was fined $10,000 per day through May 6, when his attorneys first filed explanations of their attempts to search for subpoenaed documents. If he does not clear the contempt charge, the judge can reinstate the fine retroactive to May 7.

Attorneys for James' office have repeatedly indicated recently that the investigation is nearing its conclusion, and that it may lead to an "enforcement action in the near future." They have not elaborated on what enforcement might be.

But before that happens, a New York appeals court must decide if Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and his daughter Ivanka Trump must sit for depositions with James' investigations. The judge overseeing the investigation and a lower appeals court have both sided with James' office, ruling that a December subpoena seeking their testimony was valid.

Two attorneys from James' office remain assigned to a separate Manhattan district attorney's office criminal probe of Trump and his company, for which a special grand jury recently expired. 

That investigation led in July 2021 to criminal fraud and tax evasion charges against the Trump Organization and its CFO, Allen Weisselberg, who will next appear in court on June 13.

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