Trials & Litigation

Judge holds Trump in contempt, fines him $10K per day in fight over business documents

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Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump in August 2019. Photo from Shutterstock.

A state court judge in New York City has held former President Donald Trump in civil contempt and ordered him to pay $10,000 per day until he turns over subpoenaed documents or takes other steps to show that they don't exist.

Judge Arthur Engoron ruled Monday in the New York attorney general’s civil probe of Trump’s business, report the New York Times, Law360, CNBC, the Washington Post and CNN.

A press release is here.

“Mr. Trump, I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously,” Engoron said before holding Trump in contempt.

Trump was not actually in the courtroom, however, the Washington Post reported.

Engoron said Trump and his lawyers have to provide more details on the search and should produce the records or swear that they don’t exist, according to the Washington Post.

New York Attorney General Letitia James had sought the information in her civil probe of the Trump Organization’s valuation of assets. James is investigating whether the Trump Organization made misleading statements about the value of properties to obtain loans, insurance coverage and tax deductions.

Engoron had ordered document production by March 3, but the attorney general’s office extended the date to March 31, when Trump asked for more time.

On that date, Trump raised new objections based on grounds such as overbreadth, burden and lack of particularity. He also asserted that he couldn’t produce documents because of his counsel’s information and belief that any such documents are held by the Trump Organization.

Engoron said Trump’s attorneys had not shown how a search for the materials was conducted.

Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, said Trump doesn’t have the type of written communications sought by the subpoena, according to CNN. She said Trump doesn’t use emails or text messages. She said she had searched physical files and had traveled to Florida to ask Trump about the documents.

Habba has previously called James’ investigation “a political crusade.”

Engoron previously required Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. to provide depositions in the case. That ruling is on appeal.

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