(Headline USA) A New York judge found former President Donald Trump in contempt of court Monday for failing to adequately respond to a subpoena issued by the state’s alt-left attorney general as part of a civil investigation into his business dealings.
Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump to pay a fine of $10,000 per day.
The ruling comes after New York District Attorney Letitia James, a Democrat, asked the court to hold Trump in contempt after he missed a March 31 court-imposed deadline to turn over documents.
James has claimed that her investigation, which has basically been a fishing expedition into Trump’s finances to fulfill a signature campaign pledge from her 2018 race, has uncovered evidence Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, used “fraudulent or misleading” valuations of assets like golf courses and skyscrapers to get loans and tax benefits.
Trump previously issued a statement after Engoron had in February ruled that Trump would be required to testify in the civil case.
“[F]ailed Gubernatorial candidate, Letitia James, can run for the office of AG on saying absolutely horrendous and false things about Donald Trump, a man she doesn’t know and has never met, go on to get elected, and then selectively prosecute him and his family,” Trump wrote in a statement early this year via his Save America PAC. “… She is doing everything within their corrupt discretion to interfere with my business relationships, and with the political process.”
James had asked the court to hold Trump in contempt after he missed a March 31 court-imposed deadline to turn over documents.
“Mr. Trump, I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously,” Engoron said before issuing the ruling from the bench in a Manhattan courtroom, following a hearing.
The judge said a contempt finding was appropriate because Trump and his lawyers’ hadn’t shown that they had conducted a proper search for the records sought by the subpoena.
Trump, a Republican, has been fighting James in court over her investigation, which he has called a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
James has been conducting a lengthy and wholly partisan-driven investigation into the Trump Organization, the former president’s family company, centering around what she has claimed is a pattern of misleading banks and tax authorities about the value of his properties.
The contempt finding by the judge came despite a spirited argument by Trump lawyer Alina Habba, who insisted repeatedly that she went to great lengths to comply with the subpoena, even traveling to Florida to ask Trump specifically whether he had in his possession any documents that would be responsive to the demand.
“The contempt motion is inappropriate and misleading,” she said. “He complied. … There are no more documents left to produce by President Trump.”
Trump spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Investigators for James have said in court filings that they uncovered evidence that Trump may have misstated the value of assets like golf courses and skyscrapers on his financial statements for more than a decade. No firm evidence has been produced to back the allegations.
A parallel criminal investigation is being conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, also a Democrat.
Trump’s attorneys, along with many legal experts, have said that the James civil investigation is colluding with Bragg’s case, seeking to put the former president in legal jeopardy by violating his right not to testify criminally under the Fifth Amendment.
Anything Trump says in a civil deposition could be used against him in the criminal probe being overseen by Bragg’s office. If Trump invokes the Fifth Amendment, his lawyer, Ronald Fischetti had previously said it could still hurt a potential criminal defense.
“That’ll be on every front page in the newspaper in the world,” Fischetti said. “How can I possibly pick a jury in that case?”
The same question is likely to be posed now that the leftist James has wrangled a contempt ruling.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press