New York judge despises Trump for not complying with Reuters’ subpoena

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump speaks to his supporters during the Save America Rally at the Sarasota Fairgrounds in Sarasota, Florida, USA on July 3, 2021. REUTERS / Octavio Jones

By Luc Cohen and Karen Freifeld

(Reuters) – A New York judge on Monday held former President Donald Trump in court for failing to present documents summoned in the Attorney General’s civil investigation into his business practice and ordered Trump to be fined $ 10,000 per day until he complies.

Trump lost an attempt to cancel a summons from Attorney General Letitia James, and then failed to present all the documents within a time limit ordered by the court on March 3, later extended to March 31 at the request of his lawyers.

Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that a finding of contempt was appropriate because of what the judge called “repeated errors” in handing over materials, and that it was not clear that Trump had conducted a full search for responding documents.

“Mr. Trump… I know you take your business seriously and I take mine seriously. I hereby keep you in civil contempt,” the judge said, even though Trump was not in the courtroom himself.

Trump intends to appeal the verdict of contempt, his lawyer Alina Habba said. “We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision,” Habba said in a statement.

Should Trump fail to pay the fine, he could be jailed under a New York state law that allows judges to jail people who violate contempt, according to Sarah Krissoff. a partner at law firm Day Pitney, though she said such a scenario was unlikely and that the judge could choose other remedies such as increasing the size of the fine.

James is investigating whether the Trump organization, the former president’s New York City – based family business, misappropriated the values ​​of its real estate properties in order to obtain favorable loans and tax deductions.

Trump, a Republican, denies any wrongdoing and has called the investigation politically motivated. James is a Democrat.

Habba said at the hearing that James’ investigation was a “fishing expedition” and that the Trump organization was “just on schedule” with its production of documents.

“This is a political crusade,” Habba said. “The regulator’s investigation has apparently become pointless.”

When he argued for the daily fine of $ 10,000 during the hearing, Andrew Amer, a special attorney for litigation at the Attorney General’s office, said the fine was intended to force Trump to abide by the lawsuit, not punish him.

James has said her investigation had found “substantial evidence” to suggest that the company’s accounts for more than a decade were “based on misleading valuations of assets and other misrepresentations to secure economic benefits.”

The state’s attorney has questioned how the Trump organization valued the Trump brand, as well as properties including golf clubs in New York and Scotland and Trump’s own penthouse apartment in Midtown Manhattan’s Trump Tower.

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