US judge holds Donald Trump in contempt in New York fraud probe


A New York judge found former President Donald Trump in contempt of court and for failing to adequately respond to a subpoena issued by the state attorney general as part of a civil investigation into his business dealings. on Monday, fined $10,000 daily.

Judge Arthur Angoron said the finding of contempt was justified because Trump and his lawyers had not shown that they had properly searched the records sought by the subpoenas.

“Mr. Trump, I know you take your business seriously, and I take it seriously,” Angoron said in a Manhattan courtroom, which was packed with reporters, but in Trump’s absence. “I hold you in contempt of civil and fine you $10,000 per day” until the conditions are met.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, told the court to hold Trump in contempt after he had to meet the court-imposed March 31 deadline to fulfill the terms of the summons. failed to produce any documents for

Trump, a Republican, is fighting James in court over his investigation, which he calls a politically motivated “witch hunt.” During an oral debate on Monday, Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, said that “Donald Trump does not believe he is above the law.”

Habba said in a statement that the decision would be appealed.

“We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision. All the documents liable for the summons were presented to the Attorney General months ago,” she said.

James is conducting a lengthy investigation into the former president’s family company, the Trump Organization, which he claims has a pattern of misleading banks and tax officials about the value of his assets.

“Today, justice prevailed,” James said in a release following Angoron’s decision. “For years, Donald Trump has tried to evade the law and prevent our legitimate investigation into the financial transactions of him and his company. Today’s ruling makes clear: no one is above the law.

The discovery of contempt by the judge came despite a spirited argument from Habba, who repeatedly insisted that she went to great lengths to comply with the summons, even traveling to Florida. To specifically ask Trump if he has any documents that would be answerable to the demand.

The judge, however, criticized the lack of detailed explanation in the Trump team’s formal response to the summons, telling Habba: “You can’t stand here and say I discovered this and that.”

And after saying he realized “there’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room here,” he asked why the response to the summons didn’t include an affidavit from Trump.

Habba noted that Trump does not send emails or text messages and does not have a work computer “at home or anywhere else”. She described the search for the documents as “difficult”.

“The contempt motion is unfair and misleading,” she said. “He complied. … There are no more documents left for President Trump to present.”

He also called the James investigation a “political crusade” and “really a fishing campaign”, after Trump and his companies turned over 6 million documents and paperwork belonging to 103 Trump entities over a period of eight years. Had given.

“We have changed everything as soon as possible. It is a waste of judicial resources,” said Habba.

She defended Trump’s character, saying: “My client is an honest person who frustrates some of the people in this room.”

A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Investigators for James say in court filings that they have uncovered evidence that Trump misrepresented the value of properties such as golf courses and skyscrapers on his financial statements for more than a decade.

At the hearing, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Amer said the investigation was being hampered “because we don’t have evidence from the person at the top of this organization.”

And he said the failure to turn over the documents in response to the summons “effectively made Mr. Trump turn his nose at this court order.”

Still, Assistant Attorney General Kevin Wallace indicated that the investigation was about to move into a new phase, saying: “We plan to bring enforcement action in the near future.”

A parallel criminal investigation is being conducted by Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, who is also a Democrat.

Monday’s contempt finding was not the first for someone holding the country’s highest office.

While in the White House, then-President Bill Clinton was found in April 1999 in civil contempt of court in relation to his statement in a sexual assault lawsuit filed against him in Arkansas by Paula Jones in April 1999.

Judge Susan Weber Wright held him in contempt for his testimony, where he falsely stated that he did not have a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern. This contempt quote comes two months after his acquittal in Congress over the articles of impeachment on his testimony.

(AP)

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