Donald Trump tries to evade contempt fines by claiming not to be recorded

NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — Lawyers for Donald Trump, seeking to overturn his client’s $10,000-a-day contempt fine, provided a New York judge Friday with an affidavit that the former president claims. He did not submit the summons documents to the state counsel. General’s office because he doesn’t have them.

The judge, however, was adamant and refused to lift the sanctions imposed on Trump on Monday. Judge Arthur Angoron criticized the lack of detail in the Trump affidavit, which amounted to two paragraphs, asking him to trace the methods and summons files used to store his records. Should have told about the efforts.

In the affidavit, which was signed by Trump and dated Wednesday, the former president said the documents sought in Attorney General Letitia James’ civil investigation of his business deals were not in his personal possession. Trump, who is appealing the contempt ruling, said he believed any documents to be in the possession of his company, the Trump Organization.

In other affidavits, Trump’s attorneys Alina Habba and Michael Madao detailed steps to unearth documents in their December 1 summons, including a meeting with Trump in Mar-a-Lago, Florida last month, and files from his company. Includes review of discoveries.

Andrew Amer, an attorney with the attorney general’s office, said in a court filing that the affidavits “provide some additional information” about Trump’s efforts to comply with the subpoena, requiring more extensive searches — including Trump Tower, Includes their housing and electronics. Instruments – must consider reversing a contempt judgment before the judge.

Frank Runyon, a reporter for the legal publication Law360, said Engoron held an expedited hearing Friday without a court stenographer in which he addressed the affidavits of Trump and his lawyers and decided to keep the contempt fine.

Runyon, one of the few members of the news media to attend the unintentional hearing, reported that Angoron was urging that Trump provide the “who, when, where, what” of his finding, the judge asked at one point: “Where Did he keep the files? I guess it wasn’t all on his mind.”

Habba filed a notice of appeal with the Appellate Division of the state’s trial court on Wednesday, seeking to overturn Angoron’s contempt decision. Trump is also challenging Angoron’s February 17 decision that requires him to answer questions under oath. Oral arguments in that appeal are set for May 11.

James, a Democrat, has said his investigation has uncovered evidence that Trump may have misrepresented the value of properties such as skyscrapers and golf courses on his financial statements for more than a decade. Her December 1 summons asked for a number of documents, including her financial statements and paperwork and communications related to various development projects.

James asked Angoron to hold Trump in contempt after he failed to produce any documents by the March 31 court deadline. In his decision, Angoron said that Trump and his attorney not only failed to meet the deadline, but also failed to document the steps they took to search for documents required under the case law.

Trump, a Republican, is suing James in federal court in an attempt to halt his investigation. Oral debate in that matter is to be held on May 13.

Trump recently labeled him an “operative for the Democrat Party” and said in written statements that his investigation and a parallel criminal investigation overseen by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, another Democrat, were “the largest ever.” There is a continuation of Witch Hunt.”

Bragg said this month that the 3-year-old criminal investigation, inherited from his predecessor Cyrus Vance Jr. in January, is continuing “without fear or favor” despite recent setbacks leading to the investigation. Trump’s lawyers argue that James is using his civil investigation to gain access to information that could be used in a criminal investigation against him.

So far, the District Attorney’s investigation has led to allegations of tax fraud against the Trump Organization and its longtime finance chief Alan Weiselberg related to lucrative fringe benefits such as rent, car payments and school tuition. The company and Weiselberg have pleaded not guilty.

Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter twitter.com/mikesisak

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