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NYC judge ‘conditionally’ lifts Trump’s civil contempt order, ends $10,000-a-day fines

By Molly Crane-Newman

NEW YORK — A Manhattan judge on Wednesday said he would “conditionally” lift a civil contempt order against former President Donald Trump and stop billing him $10,000 a day in the New York attorney general’s investigation of Trump family business.

State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron’s decision doesn’t let Trump entirely off the hook — it requires him to pay $110,000 in fines accrued between April 26 and May 6. Engoron imposed the fines to punish Trump and his business for defying a court-ordered deadline to turn over documents to state Attorney General Letitia James.

Trump has to submit detailed affidavits regarding what he knows about searches for the documents, and Engoron wrote that he will have to be satisfied that “all responsive documents” have been turned over to James’ staff, his order states.

If Trump doesn’t comply, the daily fines will resume retroactive to May 7, Engoron said.

Engoron issued his order after a private phone conference with parties in the case.

James’ civil investigation is poised to soon result in a lawsuit against Trump, his family business, and top company executives, lawyers for the attorney general said in April.

Investigators say they’ve uncovered evidence Trump Organization executives habitually misrepresented the value of company properties by hundreds of millions of dollars to enrich themselves.

As James’ nearly three-year probe draws to a close, Trump has repeatedly maintained through his attorney Alina Habba that he has no more evidence to personally hand over, as he never put anything in writing, whether by email or text.

But at the last court hearing, when Engoron inquired about Trump’s penchant for writing on Post-it notes, assistant Attorney General Kevin Wallace said the office had found evidence the digital-averse Trump regularly put pen to paper.

“We have seen, your honor, some people keep documents that Donald Trump will take notations on,” Wallace said. “If, for example, on 40 Wall Street, there’s going to be an approval of a master lease, or the company backstops the commercial space lease, Allen Weisselberg would print up and have (Trump) sign on a document. And we were told that there were retentions of copies of things that he would sign off on.”

The Trump Organization’s long-serving chief financial officer Weisselberg and the company have pleaded not guilty to criminal fraud charges in the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal investigation, which has been running parallel to James’. Prosecutors say they engaged in an “audacious” 15-year tax fraud scheme, dodging more than $1 million in taxes.

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg has insisted the probe he inherited could still result in charges against Trump. However, the resignations of two investigators leading it, who said they believe Trump is guilty of numerous felonies, have led many to believe the former president will not be held criminally responsible.

Lawyers for Trump and his adult children Ivanka and Don Jr. were expected to argue before the Appellate Division, First Department later Wednesday against a separate Engoron order requiring them to sit for depositions in James’ investigation.

———

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Dive Deeper:
New York judge orders Trump to pay $110,000 in civil contempt fines
Trump is required to pay the fees to New York Attorney General Letitia James' office.
Trump ordered to pay $110k in fines as judge lifts contempt order against him over financial documents
Former president’s use of post-it notes prompts dispute between Trump lawyer and New York state attorney
A judge says Trump must pay $110K and meet other conditions to end contempt order
A New York judge said he will lift the contempt of court order if Donald Trump meets conditions including paying…
New York AG's office says it's nearing end of Trump probe
A lawyer for the New York attorney general’s office said Friday that the office is “nearing the end” of its…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Trump attorney faces sharp questions in suit targeting New York AG's probe
The suit Trump filed last December is considered a longshot because federal judges almost never step in to halt state…
New York judge to drop contempt order against Trump
The lifting of the order in the investigation by state Attorney General Letitia James is conditioned on the former president's…
Get all your news in one place