Trump urges judge to deny New York attorney general’s contempt request

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FILE PHOTO: Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Donald Trump is urging a New York court to reject state Attorney General Letitia James’ bid to hold him in contempt, saying he does not have documents she subpoenaed and accusing her of turning the dispute into a public spectacle.

James this month said Trump failed to honor a court order that he comply “in full” with her subpoena as part of a civil investigation into his business practices. She asked the court to hold Trump in contempt and fine the businessman-turned-politician at least $10,000 per day until he complies.

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron scheduled an April 25 hearing over the contempt motion. The state Supreme Court is a trial level court.

In a court filing late on Tuesday, Trump lawyer Alina Habba said the documents James was requesting were in the possession of the Trump Organization, his family company, which already “produced a significant number of documents” to the attorney general’s office.

The attorney general’s three-year investigation is focused on whether the Trump Organization – which manages hotels, golf courses and other real estate around the world – has misstated the values of its properties to obtain favorable loans and tax deductions.

James had told Trump he did not need to produce documents in the Trump Organization’s possession as long as the company had already provided them and he stipulated that those documents could be used as if they were produced by him, according to a copy of the December 2021 subpoena.

Trump last month said he would comply “in full” with the subpoena seeking documents by March 31 but did not provide any documents by that deadline. One of his lawyers called the subpoena “overbroad.”

James replied that “the ship has long since sailed” for Trump to raise objections to the subpoena and asked Engoron to hold Trump in contempt. The March 31 deadline was itself an extension from March 3 agreed to by James after Trump requested more time, according to James’ office.

Habba wrote that James’ office had rebuffed Trump’s “attempts to engage in good-faith discussions to resolve the apparent issues” and was trying to “turn this matter into a public spectacle.”

James’ office declined to comment on Trump’s filing.

Trump, a Republican, denies wrongdoing and has called the investigation politically motivated. James is a Democrat.

James has said the investigation had found “significant evidence” that the Trump Organization’s financial statements relied on misleading asset valuations. She is seeking to compel Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate company that conducted appraisals for the Trump Organization, to hand over records.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen and Karen Freifeld in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)