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N.Y. AG asks judge to hold Trump in contempt for not providing records

Letitia James (D) said the former president ‘did not comply at all’ with a judge’s order to turn over the documents by March 31

Letitia James, New York's attorney general, has asked a judge to hold Donald Trump in contempt of court. (Peter Foley/Bloomberg News)
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NEW YORK — New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) has asked a Manhattan judge to hold former president Donald Trump in contempt of court for failing to provide records that he was ordered to turn over in February as part of her long-running civil probe into the practices of Trump’s family business.

James said in a statement that the former president has ignored New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron’s “crystal clear” order that he “comply with our subpoena and turn over relevant documents to my office.” Engoron’s February order also required Trump and two of his adult children to sit for depositions in the civil probe, but that matter is pending before an appellate court.

“Instead of obeying a court order, Mr. Trump is trying to evade it. We are seeking the court’s immediate intervention because no one is above the law,” James said Thursday.

She asked Engoron in a court filing to fine Trump $10,000 a day for his continued noncompliance, But she did not seek to have him jailed. James also asked for her office to be compensated for Trump’s “disobedience in the form of an award of [the AG’s] costs and fees in connection with filing this motion.”

Trump “did not comply at all” with the judge’s March 31 deadline to provide documents that were the subject of a subpoena issued in December, the motion says. He instead sent a response “raising objections to each of the eight document requests in the subpoena based on grounds such as overbreadth, burden, and lack of particularity.”

“This Court’s order was not an opening bid for a negotiation or an invitation for a new round of challenges to the subpoena," James’s office argued.

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An attorney for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

James is conducting a civil probe to determine if Trump or other executives at the Trump Organization broke the law by manipulating the value of assets to get tax benefits or favorable loan rates. The probe could lead to a lawsuit against Trump, his adult children or his business. Her probe is parallel to a criminal case she is handling with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D).

Trump and his family have denied wrongdoing and dismissed James’s investigation as politically motivated.

James has repeatedly argued that Trump and his lawyers have been the cause of unwarranted delays in the civil investigation, hampering the ability of her team to move forward. In recent weeks, Trump has retained an eDiscovery firm to handle the search for and production of the records James is seeking from him and from Trump Organization, the motion said. But he has failed to cooperate with the firm to the extent it would need him to, according to the motion, which referenced status reports by the firm, HaystackID.

HaystackID has not been able to interview Trump or get access to his long-serving executive assistant Rhona Graff, the motion says.

James is seeking a cache of records from Trump’s files, which is likely to be found at Trump Tower in New York or his resort Mar-a-Lago in Florida. They include tax documents, statements of financial condition and supporting documents that were allegedly provided as a matter of practice to banks and other parties.

The attorney general appears focused on retrieving records that have been personally handled by Trump — including any notes that were jotted down and may shed light on his decisions and thought processes.

The motion say it is “[Trump’s] burden to identify with specificity which materials produced by Trump Organization are also in his files and attest for each document that the version he has is an identical copy and does not contain additional information such as handwritten or Post-It Notes.”

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