Trump: US$10,000 fine for search of records ‘unconscionable’
NEW YORK –
In a court appeal, a lawyer for Donald Trump said on Monday it was “unconscionable and indefensible” that the former US president should be charged with contempt and fined $10,000 a day for failing to not have handed over documents that he does not have.
Lawyer Alina Habba made this argument in a submission to a New York State Court of Appeals asking that the contempt order and fine be stayed until the challenge can be heard by appeal judges.
The arguments were submitted a week after state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron in Manhattan said Trump and his attorneys failed to prove they conducted a proper search of the records. Wanted by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, in a civil investigation into her business. relationships.
James had asked the court to hold Trump in contempt after he failed to produce any documents to meet the March 31 deadline to meet the terms of the subpoena. She said her investigation found evidence that Trump may have misstated the value of assets such as skyscrapers and golf courses in his financial statements for more than a decade.
Trump, a Republican, fought James in court over his investigation, which he called a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
Habba told Engoron a week ago that she met with Trump to make sure he had no files and there were none to be found. On Friday, she submitted additional documents explaining the search for documents, including an affidavit in which Trump claimed he had no documents. Engoron criticized the affidavit as lacking in detail.
In Monday’s written arguments submitted to the state trial court’s Appellate Division, Habba wrote that the per diem fine “is not only unjustified, it is also patently improper and impermissible by law.” .
She said Trump and his representatives conducted a “diligent, thorough and complete search” for everything sought in the subpoena and provided full and accurate answers to the attorney general. She said the additional submissions last week represented “extraordinary efforts to comply”.
“Given these circumstances, it is inadmissible and indefensible that the appellant be held in contempt in any way, owes less at the outrageous price of $10,000 a day,” she said.
The written submission on Monday came after Habba told the appeals court last week that she was appealing. Trump is also appealing Engoron’s Feb. 17 ruling requiring him to answer questions under oath. Oral arguments in this appeal are scheduled for May 11.
A message seeking comment from the attorney general’s office was not immediately returned.
Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this story.