A New York judge stopped the clock on Donald Trump’s $10,000-a-day fine for failing to turn over documents in a state civil investigation and said Wednesday he would lift completely hold the former president in contempt if he met certain conditions, including the payment of $110,000. in fines it has accumulated so far.
Judge Arthur Engoron said he would conditionally lift Trump’s contempt finding if, by May 20, Trump submits additional affidavits detailing efforts to search for subpoenaed records and explaining his document retention policies and those of his company; a company he hired to help research completes its work; and he pays the fines.
Engoron found Trump in contempt on April 25 and fined him $10,000 a day for failing to comply with a subpoena for documents in connection with the US Attorney General’s investigation. New York, Letitia James, on her business practices, which she says uncovered evidence that Trump may have misrepresented the value of assets like skyscrapers and golf courses on financial statements for more than a decade .
The total amount Engoron ordered Trump to pay matches the amount of fines incurred up to last Friday, when Trump’s attorneys submitted 66 pages of court documents detailing efforts by him and his attorneys to locate the cited records. to appear. Engoron could reinstate the fine if the conditions it set out on Wednesday are not met.
Also on Wednesday, a state appeals court is set to hear oral arguments on Trump’s appeal in another subpoena case: Engoron’s Feb. 17 ruling requiring him to answer questions under oath in the James’ investigation.
A message seeking comment was left for Trump’s attorney.
James, a Democrat, asked Engoron to hold Trump in contempt of court after he failed to produce documents to meet a March 31 deadline to meet the terms of the subpoena.
James’ office searched for numerous documents, including documents and communications relating to Trump’s financials, financing and debt for a hotel project in Chicago, and development plans for his Seven Springs estate in northern New York, and even communications with Forbes magazine, where he sought to restore his image as a wealthy businessman.
Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, said in the May 6 filing that the responses to the subpoena were complete and correct and that no relevant documents or information were withheld.
Habba conducted searches of Trump’s offices and private quarters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and his residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, according to the filing, but found no relevant documents. which had not already been produced. The filing also detailed searches of other locations, including filing cabinets and storage areas at Trump Organization offices in New York.
In a separate sworn affidavit included in the filing, Trump said there were no relevant documents that had not already been produced.
He added that he owned two cellphones: an iPhone for personal use which he submitted in March to be searched as part of the subpoena and then resubmitted in May; plus a second phone he recently received which is only used to post on Truth Social, the social media network he started after he was banned from Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.
Engoron’s criteria for lifting the contempt finding were broadly consistent with the terms James’ office outlined Monday in its response to last week’s lengthy filing in which Trump and his legal team said they had exhausted their efforts to locate subpoenaed records.
The conditions requested by James’ office were as follows: Trump submitting another affidavit detailing his and his company’s retention and destruction policies for his documents and electronic devices; and allowing the outside company hired by Trump, HaystackID, to finish going through 17 boxes kept in an offsite storage facility, and for that company to issue a report of its findings and turn over all relevant documents.
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