(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump has been held in civil contempt for his failure to comply with a subpoena issued by the New York attorney general’s office.
In a bench ruling Monday, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled there was no evidence that Trump had conducted a “proper, thorough search” for items that might be relevant to the subpoena, and said that what his attorney offered as evidence of compliance was “woefully insufficient.”
Addressing Trump, who was not in court, Engoron said, “I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously.”
Engoron imposed a daily fine of $10,000 until Trump is fully compliant or offers sufficient proof he has nothing more to turn over.
Trump attorney Alina Habba, in a statement released in response to the ruling, said, “We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision. All documents responsive to the subpoena were produced to the attorney general months ago. The only issue raised by the attorney general at today’s hearing was with an affidavit submitted which copied the form mandated by the attorney general. This does not even come close to meeting the standard on a motion for contempt and, thus, we intend to appeal.”
Attorneys for the former president had argued that Trump “has nothing to hide” as they tried to stop him from being held in contempt over his response to a subpoena issued as part of the New York AG’s probe into his business practices.
“Donald Trump does not believe he is above the law,” Habba said Monday.
The attorney general’s office argued that Trump’s response to a subpoena for documents was “absolutely deficient” following a court order for Trump to fully comply by March 31.
“Donald Trump is not beyond the reach of this court’s authority,” New York Assistant Attorney General Andrew Amer said at Monday’s hearing. “We are being deprived of evidence.”
The New York AG’s office requested the documents as part of its civil investigation into how the Trump Organization valued its real estate holdings while applying for loans and tax benefits.
Habba insisted Trump had provided a “full and dutiful response” to the subpoena and simply lacked the kind of information the attorney general’s office was seeking.
“We didn’t have anything to provide that was responsive,” Habba said. “He does not have anything left to give.”
Judge Arthur Engoron faulted Trump, who did not appear in court, and his attorney for failing to show they actually tried to comply.
“You can’t just say I don’t have anything,” Engoron said. “You have to say where you looked.”
The dispute is the latest in the nearly three-year civil investigation, the length of which led the judge to ask prosecutors, “Why is this matter taking so long?”
Assistant Attorney General Kevin Wallace said the office will likely “bring some kind of enforcement action” to allow the investigation to continue.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and his attorney said the case “shouldn’t be allowed to aimlessly and endlessly go on.”
“This is a political crusade,” Habba said.
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