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Trump Calls $10K-A-Day Fine 'Unconscionable' In Appeal

By Dave Simpson · 2022-05-02 23:23:21 -0400 ·

New York - Former President Donald Trump called a New York state judge's decision to hold him in civil contempt and fine him $10,000 a day for allegedly flouting a subpoena "unwarranted," "patently improper," "unjustified," and "unconscionable and indefensible" in an appellate brief filed Monday.

The former president asked the appellate court to stay, pending his appeal, the fine levied last week by New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur F. Engoron. The judge found that Trump is wrongly ignoring a subpoena in the state attorney general's investigation into the Trump Organization's alleged financial fraud.

"This exorbitant fine is wholly unjustified," Trump said in the brief. "Appellant has, at all relevant times, been fully compliant with the Office of the Attorney General's subpoena. He did exactly what was required of him: Appellant (and his representatives on his behalf) performed a diligent, thorough and comprehensive search for all of the documents and items called for in the subpoena and provided complete and accurate responses to the OAG."

Trump claims that he's gone "above and beyond" the OAG's demand, providing an additional 34 pages of affidavits.

"Simply put, Appellant has made extraordinary efforts to comply with the OAG's subpoena which not only satisfy but far exceed his obligations by law," the suit alleges. "Given these circumstances, it is unconscionable and indefensible for Appellant to be held in contempt in any manner, must less at the inordinate expense of $10,000 per day."

Trump attorney Alina Habba filed a notice of appeal on the trial court docket last week after telling reporters that Judge Engoron's decision did "not even come close to meeting the standard on a motion for contempt" and would seek to have the decision overturned by the First Judicial Department.

In a written decision published last week, the judge found that Trump had failed to comply with his order to turn over documents to Attorney General Letitia James by the March 31 deadline and that his attorney Michael Madaio's affidavit saying the ex-president had no responsive documents was "woefully inadequate."

The judge said the AG "satisfied its burden demonstrating that Mr. Trump willfully disobeyed a lawful court order of which he had knowledge" and that "each day that passes without compliance further prejudices OAG" as the statutes of limitations continue to run, which may limit the AG's ability to bring enforcement actions against Trump.

Justice Engoron ruled that "Mr. Trump waived the right to raise boilerplate objections to the subpoena by not timely bringing such challenges in his motion to quash." The judge seemed particularly unimpressed with how "Mr. Trump has not refuted, with admissible evidence, OAG's detailed assertions that he failed to search numerous filing cabinets in various locations."

If Trump fails to reverse the contempt order and refuses to pay the fine, the AG can bring a motion for further contempt that, theoretically, could include a request to jail the former president for disobeying the court.

James is investigating whether the Trump Organization, including the former president and his children, broke the law by misrepresenting the value of their assets on financial statements, loan applications and tax forms and misled others to get favorable loans, insurance coverage and tax breaks.

Representatives for the parties did not immediately respond to requests for comments Monday.

New York is represented by Kevin C. Wallace, Andrew Amer, Colleen K. Faherty, Alex Finkelstein, Wil Handley, Eric R. Haren, Louis M. Solomon, Austin Thompson and Stephanie Torre of the Office of the New York State Attorney General.

Donald J. Trump is represented by Alina Habba and Michael T. Madaio of Habba Madaio & Associates LLP.

The case is New York v. The Trump Organization et al., case number 2022-01812, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division: First Department.

–Additional reporting by Frank G. Runyeon. Editing by Emily Kokoll.

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