Lawyers for ex-president Donald Trump are trying to help him avoid a potential contempt ruling in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ ongoing civil investigation into his company.
Defense attorneys filed documents yesterday that argue the Republican former president doesn’t have any of the documents that are the subject of a subpoena from James’ office, according to CBS News. Earlier this month, James asked a judge to hold Trump in contempt, imposing a fine of $10,000 per day for every day that Trump failed to produce documents that he had previously been ordered to surrender to her office.
James is investigating whether Trump, the Trump Organization or its executives, including his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., committed fraud by misrepresenting the company’s financials on loan applications, tax forms and in other paperwork. James’ has previously said that it already gathered evidence to that effect. But Trump’s attorneys contend James is barking up the wrong tree.
From CBS News
Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a filing late Tuesday night that Trump’s team attempted to comply with the subpoena, but determined he was not in possession of any of the documents sought by the attorney general. Habba wrote that she informed the attorney general’s office that Trump’s eponymous company may have the documents being sought, which include personal statements of financial condition, tax audit materials and insurance-related documents.
Trump and his lawyers are battling prosecutors in New York and Georgia over civil and criminal allegations regarding his actions in office and his business.
In December, Trump sued James in federal court in an attempt to halt her investigation, but he lost that fight. In February, a New York state judge ruled that James could question the Trumps under oath about their businesses, ending another attempt by the former president to avoid being deposed. The Trumps have appealed that ruling.
James’ investigation is focused strictly on Trump’s businesses and is civil in nature, meaning she could seek to have him or his company fined but could not pursue criminal penalties. She could refer any evidence of potential crimes to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr.
Bragg’s office is conducting its own controversial criminal investigation into Trump’s businesses. Bragg said earlier this month that his investigation is still alive following the March resignations of his two top prosecutors on the case. The subsequent public disclosure of a scathing resignation letter by one of them, who criticized Bragg’s management of the effort, left the status of the case in question.
Meanwhile, Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis is still leading a criminal investigation into whether Trump broke the law by attempting to push Georgia’s Secretary of State to “find” enough votes to tip the 2020 election in his favor.