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Judge orders Trump Organization to hand over documents more quickly to New York AG

(Biz Herman for The Washington Post)

The Trump Organization must move faster to supply documents sought by the New York attorney general or face the prospect of an outside company searching the company’s files instead, a judge warned in a newly unsealed court order.

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ordered former president Donald Trump’s business to report next week on its progress in handing over the documents and gave it until Oct. 15 to comply.

Engoron’s order, signed Sept. 2, was unsealed after a challenge by the news site Law 360. Engoron noted that Trump’s company had sought to keep the record sealed but said “the Trump Organization has not demonstrated good cause” for doing so.

The order shows that New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) is still conducting a wide-ranging investigation of Trump’s business practices.

It also shows that James continues to be interested in topics beyond those referenced this summer in the indictment of Allen Weisselberg, Trump’s longtime chief financial officer, and two Trump corporate entities.

The Weisselberg case, brought by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D) with assistance from James’s office, focused on an alleged scheme to evade taxes. Weisselberg was accused of concealing portions of Trump executives’ salaries — including his own — from taxing authorities.

But James had previously said she was leading a separate, civil inquiry intended to end in a lawsuit instead of criminal charges. The newly unsealed order suggested that probe is still going on.

“For more than a year now, the Trump Organization has failed to adequately respond to our subpoenas, hiding behind procedural delays and excuses,” James said in a statement Friday. “Once again, the court has ordered that the Trump Organization must turn over the information and documents we are seeking, otherwise face an independent third-party that will ensure that takes place.”

“Our work will continue undeterred because no one is above the law,” James said.

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.

The order showed that James is still pursuing a range of records, including requests for “Statements of Financial Condition,” which are documents Trump gave to lenders and others to catalogue his wealth. Former Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen had said Trump used these to deceive potential lenders and business partners.

James also sought documents from Trump employees connected to a pair of properties — in California and New York — where Trump had saved millions on taxes by obtaining conservation easements, agreements not to develop the land. In a filing in August 2020, James said she was investigating whether Trump inflated the value of those easements to get tax breaks he did not deserve.

The new order indicated that James’s office felt Trump’s company was not responding fast enough. Engoron said that the Trump Organization was required to report on its progress by Sept. 30, and to supply the documents to James the following month.

If it does not, Engoron wrote, the company will have to hire an outside “eDiscovery” firm to search its internal files and look for what James wants. Engoron said that if the Trump Organization does not do so, he will appoint a firm himself.

Trump would have to pay for that firm’s work, the order said.

Jacobs reported from New York. Jonathan O’Connell in Washington contributed to this report.