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 a subpoena.
The subpoena is requiring Trump to turn over documents to investigators conducting a financial fraud probe for New York 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 Supreme Court judge Arthur Engoron.
“Trump attorney Alina Habba said after the hearing that they plan to appeal.”We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision today. All of the documents, as I explained, responsive to the subpoena, were already produced to the attorney general month’s ago,” Habba said.
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James’ office asked for the contempt finding after Trump failed to meet a court-ordered March 31 deadline to turn over subpoenaed material, claiming he had none of the documents demanded in the civil probe.
“The March 31 deadline came and went and we received zero documents,” Andrew Amer, an attorney for James’ office, said in court Monday. Amer later asked, “Is Mr. Trump thumbing his nose at this court’s order?”
Trump attorney Alina Habba said she personally oversaw the search for documents, including flying to Florida to interview Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club.
“There is simply nothing more for him to provide. It was already provided. So your honor, how is President Trump in contempt?” Habba asked.
But Engoron appeared to believe that explanation raised more questions about Trump’s response to the subpoena, asking Habba why she didn’t previously document the Mar-a-Lago interview.
“I feel like there’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room, and that is, why don’t we have an affidavit from him?” Engoron asked, later adding, “There is a difference between saying something and saying something under oath.”
In an at-times testy back and forth between Habba, Engoron, and his clerk Allison Greenfield, Engoron said Trump’s attorneys failed to explain what they searched, and how.
“Let’s say you’re going to say, ‘I searched the files outside his office.’ I have to have an affidavit that says ‘I searched the files outside his office,'” Engoron said.
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.