NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump has appealed a New York judge’s decision to hold the former president in contempt of court and fine him $10,000 a day for failing to comply with a subpoena to appear in the state attorney general’s civil investigation into his business dealings. .
Trump’s attorney Alina Habba filed a notice of appeal Wednesday with the state trial court’s appellate division – the second time in two months that Trump has sought to overturn the judge’s decision of Manhattan Arthur Engoron against him in a subpoena case.
In court papers, Habba questioned the legal basis for Engoron’s contempt decision on Monday, arguing that Trump correctly responded to the subpoena and that Attorney General Letitia James’ office failed to show that his conduct “was calculated to defeat, harm, hinder or prejudice” his investigation.
James’ office refused to engage in “good faith discussions” before seeking a fine from Trump, Habba argued. In a statement released Monday after the decision, Habba said, “All documents responding to the subpoena were produced to the Attorney General months ago.”
In a statement Wednesday, James said Engoron’s order was clear that Trump was in contempt of court.
“We’ve seen this playbook before, and it never stopped our investigation of Mr. Trump and his organization,” James said. “This time it’s no different.”
In another subpoena battle, Trump is challenging Engoron’s Feb. 17 ruling requiring him to answer questions under oath. James said the investigation found evidence that Trump may have misjudged the value of assets such as skyscrapers and golf courses for more than a decade. Oral arguments in this appeal are scheduled for May 11.
Along with his subpoena for Trump’s testimony, James’ office issued a subpoena for numerous documents, including documents and communications regarding his financial statements, funding and debt for a project. hotel in Chicago and development plans for its Seven Springs estate in upstate New York. and even communications with Forbes magazine, where he sought to restore his image as a wealthy businessman.
James, a Democrat, called on Engoron to despise Trump after he failed to produce any documents by the March 31 deadline. In his ruling, Engoron said Trump and his lawyers not only failed to meet the deadline, but also failed to document the steps they took to search for the documents.
Instead, “Trump produced 16 pages of boilerplate objections and a four-page assertion by a lawyer who states, summarily, that Mr. Trump was unable to locate relevant documents in his custody. “, Engoron said in a written version of his decision. “The claim fails to identify what research methods were used, where they were used, by whom they were used, and where this research took place.”
Habba, arguing at a hearing on Monday, insisted she had gone to great lengths to comply with the subpoena, even going to Trump’s home in Florida to ask him specifically about his he had in his possession documents which would answer the request.
Habba noted that Trump doesn’t email or text and doesn’t have a work computer “at home or anywhere else.” She described the search for documents as “diligent,” but Engoron disputed the lack of detail in her written response to the subpoena and asked why she didn’t include an affidavit from Trump himself.
“You can’t sit here and say I searched this and that,” Engoron said.
Trump, a Republican, is suing James in federal court in an attempt to stop his investigation. He recently called her an “agent of the Democratic Party” and said her investigation and a parallel criminal investigation overseen by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, another Democrat, are “a continuation of the larger hunt to witches of all time”.
Bragg said this month that the three-year criminal investigation he inherited in January from his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., is continuing “without fear or favor” despite a recent reshuffle in the direction of the investigation. Trump’s attorneys argue that James is using his civil investigation to gain access to information that could then be used against him in the criminal investigation.
So far, the district attorney’s investigation has only resulted in tax evasion charges against Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, over employee benefits. income such as rent, car payments and tuition. The company and Weisselberg have pleaded not guilty.
James’ investigation covers much of the same ground, focusing in part on what the attorney general said was a pattern of misleading banks and tax authorities about the value of his properties.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Amer told Engoron the investigation was hampered “because we don’t have evidence from the person at the top of this organization.” He said the failure to deliver the documents in response to the subpoena was “in effect Mr. Trump thumbing his nose at the order of this court.”