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Trump pays contempt fine

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

Donald Trump has paid the $110,000 fine levied after he was held in contempt by a New York judge, according to a spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James. An attorney for Trump also filed more than a dozen affidavits due Friday in an effort to purge the contempt finding.

Trump was held in contempt April 25 after failing to comply with a subpoena requiring he turn over documents to investigators conducting a sprawling civil financial fraud probe for New York Attorney General Letitia James. The subpoena sought documents related to Trump's personal finances, as well as information related to the financing of several properties. Trump was fined $10,000 per day through May 6, the date of his most recent attempt to satisfy Judge Arthur Engoron's demands.

In response to the May 6 filing, Engoron halted the fine and suspended the contempt finding, but said he was still unsatisfied with Trump's explanation of how he and his attorneys managed to find zero documents that complied with the subpoena.

Engoron gave Trump until May 20 to file a long list of additional affidavits detailing his attorneys' search for records and electronic devices, and explanations of the Trump Organization's document retention and destruction policies. Trump and his company were also required to cooperate with a long-delayed court mandated discovery effort by a third party company tasked with sorting through years of corporate records. The firm completed its discovery on Thursday, the same day Trump's payment was delivered.

Engoron will decide if the affidavits submitted Friday satisfy the terms of the subpoena for which Trump was held in contempt. If they are not satisfactory, the contempt finding can be reinstated retroactive to May 7, meaning Trump would owe an additional $130,000.

James' office had demanded documents and data from specific file locations and personnel in the Trump Organization, but it had also noted that Trump failed to turn over several phones he had used. In the May 6 affidavit, Trump said he does not "know the whereabouts" of those phones, including a Samsung he used at the White House that he said, "was taken from me at some point while I was President."

Trump said in the May 6 filing that he currently has two phones, an iPhone "which I have owned for several years and is for my personal use," and a new phone used exclusively for posting to the social media network he has a licensing agreement with.

Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, were ordered on February 17 to appear for depositions in James' long-running civil fraud probe. They appealed the order to appear, and are awaiting a decision on that appeal.

Trump did not challenge a separate part of that February 17 ruling in which he was ordered to comply with James' subpoena for documents. Engoron ordered Trump to comply by March 3,  and later extended that deadline to March 31 — a date that was agreed to by both sides at the time. 

Trump did not turn over documents that day, and raised objections Engoron and James' office said should have been addressed months before, leading to the contempt finding.

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.

Trump has repeatedly denied all allegations of personal and company wrongdoing.

Attorneys for James' office have indicated during multiple hearings in the last month that the investigation is nearing its conclusion, and that it may lead to an "enforcement action." They have not elaborated on what enforcement might be.

"There's clearly been a substantial amount of evidence amassed that could support the filing of an enforcement proceeding, although the final determination on filing that proceeding has yet to be made," Andrew Amer, a litigator for James' office, said during a hearing last week.

Two attorneys from James' office remain assigned to a separate Manhattan District Attorney's 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. They filed a motion to dismiss in February, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is expected to respond to that motion this month.

Two leading prosecutors, Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, resigned in February, less than two months after newly elected Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg took office. Bragg succeeded 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 an April 7 statement that the criminal investigation "is continuing" and his investigators and prosecutors are "exploring evidence not previously explored."

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