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Trump responds to the New York Attorney General’s contempt charge

Photo Credit: Mathew Imaging/Filmmagic

An attorney for Donald Trump reacted Tuesday to New York Attorney General Letitia James’ attempt to hold the former president in contempt, claiming he lacks the documents demanded by James.

As per CBS News, on April 7, James’ office requested that a state judge issue an order of contempt against Trump, claiming that he failed to comply with a previous ruling requiring him to turn over documents by March 31 as part of an investigation into his company’s financial practices.

Trump attorney Alina Habba stated in a late-night filing that Trump’s team attempted to comply with the subpoena but found he did not have any of the documents sought by the attorney general. Habba wrote that she informed the attorney general’s office that Trump’s eponymous company could have the documents sought, which include personal financial statements, tax audit materials, and insurance-related documents.

“While this result may be to the (Attorney General’s) dissatisfaction, the fact is that a diligent search was performed and found that (Trump) is not in possession of any of the requested documents,” Habba wrote.

Trump’s office also asked that he be fined $10,000 per day until he complies with the ruling. In his filing on Tuesday, Habba called the proposed fine “excessive”

In its April 7 filing, James’ office also accused the Trump Organization of “restricting” a third-party firm tasked with conducting discovery in the case.

On February 17, Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, were ordered to appear for depositions in James’ long-running civil fraud investigation. They challenged the order to appear, but not a separate part of the ruling in which Trump was ordered to comply with a subpoena “seeking documents and information.”

According to court documents, the judge ordered Trump to comply with the demand for documents and information by March 3 and later extended that deadline to March 31 — a date agreed upon by both parties at the time.

James’ office did not immediately return a request for comment. On April 7, she said in a statement, “Instead of obeying a court order, Mr. Trump is trying to evade it.”

James’ office claimed in a February press release that its wide-ranging investigation has collected evidence “showing that Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization used fraudulent and misleading financial statements to obtain economic benefit.” The investigation initially focused on whether the Trump Organization inflated asset valuations when seeking loans and insurance coverage, and then deflated them to reduce tax liability.

Mazars USA, an accounting firm, cited James’ investigation in a Feb. 9 letter retracting a decade of financial statements compiled for the Trump Organization. As part of its investigation, James’ office is also seeking information from RSM US LLP, a second accounting firm that worked for Trump’s company.

On April 8, James’ office filed a motion to compel Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate firm, to comply with subpoenas related to appraisal work done on several Trump properties. A company spokesperson said in an April 11 statement to CBS News that “any suggestion that Cushman & Wakefield has not responded in good faith to the Attorney General’s investigation is fundamentally untrue.”

Trump and his company have denied all allegations of wrongdoing on multiple occasions. In a Dec. 20 phone call with CBS News, he called the investigation “unconstitutional” and described himself as “an aggrieved and innocent party.” That same day, Trump filed a federal lawsuit to halt James’ investigation.

Jame’s investigation has been running concurrently with a separate criminal investigation being conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. That investigation, which resulted in charges against the Trump Organization and its CFO on July 1, 2021, appears to be stalled.

Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, two top prosecutors, resigned in February, less than two months after newly elected Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg took office, succeeding Cyrus Vance Jr., who launched the investigation in August 2018. In his resignation letter, Pomerantz stated that Vance “concluded that the facts warranted prosecution,” but that Bragg had “reached the decision … not to seek criminal charges at the present time.”

In a statement issued Thursday, Bragg stated that the investigation “is continuing” and that his investigators and prosecutors are “exploring evidence not previously explored.”

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