Court denies Trump effort to pause $10,000 daily fine for contempt
A New York court on Tuesday denied former President Donald Trump’s request to put a halt to the $10,000 in daily fines and a contempt order levied by a judge on April 25. Trump was held in contempt after failing to comply with a December 1, 2021, subpoena from New York State Attorney General Letitia James in her office’s wide-ranging civil fraud probe into the former president and his company.
Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, declined to comment on Tuesday’s decision by New York’s Appellate Division, First Department court.
Habba asked the court on Monday to issue a stay, pausing the fine while Trump appeals the contempt order. She argued in her motion that the “exorbitant fine is wholly unjustified” and “patently improper,” and that the judge who ruled Trump had failed to comply with his subpoena did so “in error.”
Trump has maintained he has none of the documents — including records related to his personal finances, as well as various properties and projects associated with the Trump Organization — James is seeking.
James’ office said Trump’s attorneys have not adequately explained where and how they conducted their search for documents, and New York Judge Arthur Engoron agreed.
Trump appealed Engoron’s contempt ruling to the appellate division court while simultaneously trying to get the judge to reverse his order.
On Friday, Trump and his attorneys submitted affidavits purporting to describe their search for documents, but Engoron rejected them.
“Mr. Trump’s personal affidavit is completely devoid of any useful detail,” Engoron wrote in his Friday ruling. The judge then ordered Trump to submit a “Jackson affidavit,” a detailed recounting of what has been searched and how. Such an affidavit is typically issued when a subpoenaed document cannot be found.
Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, were ordered on February 17 to appear for depositions in James’ 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’ December 1, 2021, subpoena for documents.
Attorneys for James’ office have claimed they have evidence that Trump and his company “used fraudulent and misleading financial statements to obtain economic benefit.” The initial focus of the probe was on whether the Trump Organization inflated the valuations of assets while seeking loans and insurance coverage, and deflated their value to reduce tax liability.
The appellate court is scheduled to hear Trump’s contempt appeal on May 23.