NEW YORK –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 attorney general as part of a civil investigation into his business dealings.
Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump to pay a fine of $20,000 per day.
On the court’s bench in the Manhattan courtroom after a hearing, Engoron stated, “I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously,” Engoron stated before issuing the decision at the court.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, had asked the court to hold Trump in contempt after he missed a March 31 court-imposed deadline to turn over documents. The judge decided that the contempt ruling was proper since Trump and his attorneys didn’t prove they’d properly searched for the documents requested according to the warrant.
“Today, justice prevailed,” James declared following the hearing. “For many years, Donald Trump has tried to avoid law enforcement and block our legitimate inquiry into his and his business’s financial transactions. Today’s ruling makes it clear that no one is immune to laws. ”
Trump, an ardent Republican, is fighting James in court over her probe, which he believes is an election-driven “witch hunt.”
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James is conducting a long-running probe into Trump Organization, the former family business of the president, centered around what she believes to be a scheme of deceiving the tax authorities and banks regarding the value of his property.
The heart of the investigation is whether the Trump Organization deliberately misrepresented the value of its property assets in its official documents and then inflated their value to secure loans or other funding and understated them for tax reasons.
In December, the subpoena issued by investigators demanded eight different kinds of documents along with depositions from Trump and two of his kids, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump. Trump and his family then filed a lawsuit to challenge the subpoena.
The contempt verdict by the judge came after a passionate argument by Trump attorney Alina Habba. She frequently insisted that she went through great efforts to satisfy the warrant and even traveled to Florida to inquire of Trump, specifically if he had the documents that could respond to the request.
“The scorn movement is unseemly and deceiving,” she said. “He agreed. … There are no more archives left to be created by President Trump.”
Trump’s spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
In court papers, investigators stated that they found evidence that Trump might have misrepresented the value of assets such as skyscrapers and golf courses in his financial records for over 10 years.
Sources said that two top prosecutors involved in the investigation of the Trump Organization and former president Donald Trump have resigned from the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
A separate criminal investigation is currently being conducted by Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan District Attorney, a Democrat.
The criminal investigation seemed to be at a standstill just two months ago when two prosecutors in charge of the district attorney’s investigation abruptly quit.
One of the defendants, Mark Pomerantz, told Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that he should take on a case as Pomerantz thinks that Trump “is guilty of numerous felony violations” regarding the statements he made about his financial status.
Bragg released an official statement that claimed his Trump investigation is ongoing in the middle of this month. “While the law constrains me from commenting further at this time. “I pledge that the office will publicly state the conclusion of our investigation – whether we conclude our work without bringing charges or move forward with an indictment.”