Updated Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at 11:30 a.m.
In the latest episode of Donald Trump Takes An L in Court, the ex-president was held in civil contempt by a judge in New York on Monday for failing to produce documents under a subpoena issued by state Attorney General Letitia James’ office. Later the same day, the judge ordered a major commercial real estate firm to comply with a separate subpoena for records in the case.
Cushman & Wakefield, a Chicago-based firm that reported $9.4 billion in revenues in 2021, must turn over documents related to appraisals the company performed on properties owned by the Trump Organization, CNBC reported. It’s unclear which properties information is being sought about, but Trump’s company has developed, owns or markets properties across the United States and abroad.
James is investigating Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, for potential fraud for allegedly providing misleading financial statements to insurance companies, lenders and others. The subpoena addressed in court today was issued in December, but last week Trump’s attorneys argued that Trump doesn’t have any of what James is looking for in his possession. They made that same argument today, to no avail, as Judge Arther Engeron slapped Trump with a $10,000 per day fine until he complies with the subpoena.
Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, said the former president does not believe he is above the law, but simply does not have the types of written communications that were sought by the subpoena, but that he produced hundreds of thousands of documents through his assistants. Habba said she herself searched Trump’s hard copy calendars and physical file locations, and even interviewed her client in Florida.
“President Trump does not email. He does not text message. And he has no work computer at home or anywhere else,” Habba said.
“I took it upon myself to get on a plane and flew down and asked him one by one if there was anything that he had on his person that he had not given me I would need that. And he did not,” she said.
The judge asked why Trump didn’t sign an affidavit swearing that he complied with the subpoena. Habba said that he would.
Today’s ruling was but the latest in a string of judicial proceedings that haven’t gone so well for the former White House occupant, whose post-presidency spate of lawsuits and legal woes is seemingly picking up where his private businesses–which were often the subject of lawsuits–left off.
James’ civil investigation parallels a criminal probe into Trump’s business affairs out of the Manhattan district attorney’s office. District Attorney Alvin Bragg said earlier this month that his investigation is ongoing despite the resignations–and criticism of Bragg’s handling of the probe–of two top prosecutors.
Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis is leading a criminal investigation into whether Trump committed a crime when he called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January 2021 asking him to “find” enough votes to tip Georgia’s election tally in Trump’s favor. Subsequent recounts confirmed that Trump had lost the state.
A House committee led by U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) is investigating Trump and his associates’ role in causing the Jan. 6th assault on the U.S. Capitol. So far the House has voted to hold two Trump allies, Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino Jr., in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents, a vote that could lead to criminal prosecution by the Justice Department. The House could still refer any other potential criminal evidence it finds to the Justice Department.
Last week, Trump’s campaign was ordered to pay $1.3 million to former reality show star turned White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman for legal fees. The campaign had sued Manigault Newman alleging that her 2018 book, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House”, violated a non-disclosure agreement. An arbitrator sided with Newman.