BREAKING NEWS: Judge holds Trump in CONTEMPT and fines him $10,000 a day for failing to comply with a subpoena from New York AG Letitia James
- ‘I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously,’ state Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron said at a Monday hearing
- James’ office urged the judge to hold Trump in contempt earlier this month after prosecutors accused him of missing a mutually agreed-upon deadline
- Trump was due to hand over eight personal financial documents to investigators
- The ex-president’s lawyer said he simply could not find the pages
- New York State Attorney General James said ‘justice prevailed’ on Monday
A New York judge on Monday held former President Donald Trump in contempt and slapped him with a $10,000 daily fine for failing to comply with a subpoena to turn over several financial documents to state Attorney General Letitia James.
‘Mr. Trump, I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously, I hereby hold you in civil contempt and fine you $10,000 a day’, said New York state Supreme Court judge Arthur Engoron.
James said ‘justice prevailed’ on Monday in a celebratory statement after the ruling.
‘For years, Donald Trump has tried to evade the law and stop our lawful investigation into him and his company’s financial dealings. Today’s ruling makes clear: No one is above the law,’ the state attorney general said.
James is investigating whether the Trump Organization, the former president’s real estate empire, misstated the values of its real estate properties to obtain favorable loans and tax deductions.
James has said her probe had found ‘significant evidence’ suggesting that for more than a decade the company’s financial statements ‘relied on misleading asset valuations and other misrepresentations to secure economic benefits.’
A New York judge on Monday held former President Donald Trump in contempt, and fined him $10,000 per day, for failing to comply with subpoena from New York Attorney General Letitia James.
She also accused the ex-president of missing a mutually agreed-upon deadline to hand over eight personal financial documents — which Trump’s attorneys claim he simply does not have.
James asked that Trump be fined $10,000 a day, and perhaps more, until he complies.
She accused him of ‘more delay and obfuscation’ in his excuses for not handing over the documents in question, arguing the daily increasing fine is necessary to ‘compensate’ her office ‘for its fees and costs associated with this motion,’ according to an April 7 court filing.
Trump has repeatedly denounced James’ probe as a ‘witch hunt’ and accused her of acting out of political bias.
She subpoenaed him and two of his adult children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., in December. James has been seeking a deposition from all three.
Trump attorney Alina Habba called James’ contempt request a ‘publicity stunt’ in an April 20 filing and claimed the onus was on his family business to produce the documents.
After a ‘dutiful search’ for what prosecutors were seeking, Habba said he ‘simply did not have any of the requested documents in his personal possession or custody.’
Instead, she claimed ‘all potentially responsive documents were in the possession, custody or control of the Trump Organization.’
She pointed out her client ‘was not obligated to produce documents’ in the company’s control.
‘Mr. Trump, I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously,’ Judge Arthur Engoron said
The attorney general 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.
Habba said at the Monday hearing that James’ investigation was a ‘fishing expedition’ and that the Trump Organization was ‘right on schedule’ with its production of documents.
‘This is a political crusade,’ Habba said. ‘The attorney general’s investigation has seemingly become aimless.’
Trump, a Republican, denies wrongdoing and has called the investigation politically motivated. James is a Democrat.
Trump, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., also were subpoenaed and ordered to provide testimony to the attorney general. An appeal is pending for that testimony.
In a late March filing James said Trump himself only turned over 10 documents in more than two years. He was due to hand over the latest round by March 31, already an extension of a previous filing.
The ex-president’s lawyer contends that James made no effort ‘to resolve the underlying issues’ before accusing Trump of a lack of cooperation and demanding a daily $10,000 fine.
‘While [the Attorney General] was publicly putting out a barrage of press statements about the instant motion, [the Attorney General’s] counsel was privately rebuffing numerous attempts by [Trump’s] counsel to engage in good-faith discussions to address the issues at hand,’ Habba wrote in the 27-page filing.
Habba accused James’ team of ‘refusing’ her ‘request for a simple phone call.’
‘Given the [Attorney General’s] recalcitrant behavior, it is fair to question the [Attorney General’s] motive in bringing the instant application, which appears to be little more than a contrived publicity stunt,’ Trump’s lawyer said.
Are the walls closing in on Trump? Ex-President facing developments in the legal cases against him from New York to the election and January 6
New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron’s contempt ruling against Donald Trump is just the latest in a long string of legal entanglements for the former president.
He’s also facing a criminal probe from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which hit a significant roadblock in late February with the departure of the two lead prosecutors on the case.
However Bragg said earlier this month that his investigation is still pressing forward.
Both James’ civil investigation and the criminal probe are looking into whether the Trump Organization used misleading financial statements to obtain loans and secure other deals.
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen accused the company of doing so during a Congressional hearing in February 2019.
Along with the tax fraud investigations, the House Select Committee Investigating the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol is conducting a probe into last year’s insurrection — which is getting closer and closer to ensnaring the former president.
Here’s a look at the former president’s most recent legal battles:
Alvin Bragg’s criminal investigation ‘continues,’ Manhattan DA’s office says
Manhattan’s new district attorney has been under mounting pressure to give an update in his criminal probe into the Trump Organization, which appeared to have sputtered to a halt as recently as late February.
In an early April statement shortly after James’ filing, however, Bragg vowed his office is ‘investigating thoroughly and following the facts without fear or favor.’
He did not give any new details, and declined to discuss ‘investigative steps’ and ‘grand jury matters’ but said he would make public if and when the investigation ended.
‘In short, as we have previously said, the investigation continues,’ he said.
Capitol riot committee may want to speak with Trump
The Chairman of the House Capitol riot committee told reporters on Thursday: ‘We’ll be talking about the likelihood of a Trump interview in the not too distant future.’
The Democrat-led panel had for months been vague about if or when it intends to speak with the former president himself, as more and more members of his inner circle are caught up in the vast and fast-moving investigation.
Trump himself left the door open to cooperating with the committee. In an interview with the Washington Post published hours before Thompson’s comments, the former president said he’d decide based on ‘what the request is.’
Thompson called that answer ‘interesting’ on Thursday.
Biden Justice Department ‘planning to investigate’ White House documents Trump took to Mar-a-Lago
The House Oversight Committee has accused President Joe Biden’s Justice Department (DOJ) of ‘interfering’ with her panel’s investigation of potential record-keeping abuses by the Trump White House.
The DOJ is ‘taking steps’ to investigate the former president’s transfer of records — some of which were supposedly top secret — from the White House to his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
In February, the National Archives said it had to retrieve 15 boxes of presidential records from the West Palm Beach estate in the month prior.
The Archives had said at the time the records should have been turned over at the end of the Trump administration for preservation.
It came after the agency claimed Trump tore up several documents during his administration that were meant to be kept in tact.
The Post’s Thursday report noted that a potential investigation on the horizon could be why the DOJ is keeping the contents of those boxes from Congress.
Bill Clinton-appointed judge deals a blow to Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary
Reporting by Rob Crilly
A federal judge on Thursday refused Donald Trump’s request to stand aside from handling his lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, saying there was no legitimate reason why his appointment by President Bill Clinton should disqualify him.
In a strongly worded five-page ruling, Judge Donald Middlebrooks said he had never met the Clintons and hinted that Trump was ‘judge-shopping.’
‘Every federal judge is appointed by a president who is affiliated with a major political party, and, therefore, every federal judge could theoretically be viewed as beholden, to some extent or another,’ he wrote.
Trump last month filed a suit against Clinton and a slew of other Democrats, accusing them of trying to spread smears about him during the 2016 campaign.
The case was assigned to Middlebrooks, who was appointed by President Clinton in 1997 to the Southern District of the Florida federal court.
In his Thursday ruling, he said all judges – by virtue of their appointment could be considered to have political backgrounds – but without any evidence to the contrary should be considered impartial.
Ivanka Trump grilled by Democrat-led January 6 panel
The closest member of Donald Trump’s orbit to sit down with the Capitol riot committee is his oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, who also served as a senior adviser during his administration.
Ivanka was grilled by the panel via remote video link for a staggering eight hours, ending around 6 p.m.
Her husband Jared Kushner, also a former high-ranking Trump administration aide, spoke to the committee in March.
Little is known of the details of her testimony though Chairman Thompson said she was ‘answering questions.’
She reportedly did not invoke the Fifth Amendment or any other claim to silence according to the New York Times, though her father told the Washington Post on Thursday that he had offered to shield her with an unspecified ‘privilege.’
He called her interview ‘harassment’ and a ‘shame.’
The committee previously said it has ‘firsthand testimony’ that Ivanka personally appealed to her father to stop the violence on January 6.
Kushner’s interview was described as ‘helpful’ and Trump’s son-in-law was said to be ‘friendly’ and ‘cooperative’ with the committee, NPR reported.
Federal judge says Trump ‘more likely than not’ broke the law on Jan. 6
U.S. District Court Judge David Carter of California said last month that Trump likely attempted to obstruct a Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021. Lawmakers had gathered to certify Biden’s electoral victory were interrupted by the former president’s supporters storming the Capitol.
The opinion, which marks the first time a judge suggested Trump was directly involved in the insurrection, was part of an ongoing legal battle waged by pro-Trump lawyer John Eastman.
Eastman wrote a now-infamous memo detailing a legal theory on how then-Vice President Mike Pence could have unilaterally overturned the election.
The lawyer had sued to block the Jan. 6th committee from obtaining a vast tranche of documents, including emails between himself and Trump about the 2020 election.
Carter ruled that 101 sensitive emails should be turned over to the committee, while allowing 10 to remain privileged.
‘The illegality of the plan was obvious. Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections,’ Carter’s opinion stated of Eastman’s legal theories.
‘With a plan this “BOLD,” President Trump knowingly tried to subvert this fundamental principle. Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.’
Trump loses bid to counter-sue rape accuser E. Jean Carroll
The former president unsuccessfully tried to seek financial damages from writer E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of raping her in a New York City department store in the mid-1990s.
Manhattan federal court Judge Lewis Kaplan said on March 11 that Trump’s argument was made in ‘bad faith’ in a bid to delay Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against him.
Carroll sued Trump in November 2019 when he dismissed her graphic and disturbing allegations as financial and politically-motivated lies.
It comes after the Biden Justice Department said last June it would continue to stand in for Trump in Carroll’s lawsuit, not because of the facts of the case but because of the legal basis presented by the ex-president’s office when he denied her accusations.
Kaplan had previously ruled in 2020 that Trump must remain a defendant in the case. Trump’s DOJ appealed the decision in November of that year, weeks after he lost the election.
Top prosecutors step down from Manhattan’s Trump Organization probe
Bragg’s criminal probe of Trump faced a massive public reckoning when two prosecutors leading the Manhattan District Attorney’s criminal tax fraud investigation into Donald Trump and his family business abruptly resigned in late February.
Attorneys Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz stepped down from the case after the new Manhattan District Attorney expressed doubts over moving forward with a case against Trump, the New York Times reported.
Sources close to the investigation said it had ground to a month-long halt in the middle of prosecutors’ presentation of evidence to a grand jury.
At the time of reporting, Bragg’s team had also reportedly not questioned any witnesses for more than a month, after postponing a plan to grill at least one person absent the DA’s go-ahead.
The sudden shake-up threatened to derail the investigation, which was started by former District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in 2018.
Meanwhile, the grand jury convened to help look into the Trump real estate empire’s term expires this month.
Supreme Court refuses Trump’s request to block documents
The Supreme Court earlier this year dealt a blow to the ex-president’s fight to keep his records away from the Democrat-led Capitol riot committee.
Trump had challenged a DC Circuit Court opinion ordering the National Archives to turn the documents over, after the Biden administration already said it would not stand in the way.
The high court noted the DC Circuit’s statement pointing out that Trump would have lost the case even if he were still in office.
‘The questions whether and in what circumstances a former President may obtain a court order preventing disclosure of privileged records from his tenure in office, in the face of a determination by the incumbent President to waive the privilege, are unprecedented and raise serious and substantial concerns,’ the Supreme Court’s majority opinion read.
Only Justice Clarence Thomas, husband to conservative activist and Trump supporter Virginia Thomas, voted to overturn the lower court’s ruling. He did not explain why.
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