The judge will leave Trump out of contempt, if he pays and cooperates, Mother Jones

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The judge presiding over Donald Trump’s legal battle with New York Attorney General Letitia James has agreed to give the former president a break from the $ 10,000-a-day fines that have been piling up for more than two weeks.

On April 26, Judge Arthur Engoron stated that Trump was outraging the court for failing to comply with a subpoena from James. On Wednesday, Engoron agreed to end the contempt and cancel five days of fines, but only if Trump continues to cooperate with James’s office, which is suing the documents in his civil fraud investigation into Trump and the activities of he. Trump also has to pay $ 110,000 into an escrow account, covering the first 11 days of fines for outrage. If the former president fails to do so by May 20, the fines will start piling up again and he will owe another $ 150,000.

James has been investigating Trump for nearly two years. she is looking for to determine whether, in the years before he became president, Trump and his company intentionally inflated the value of some of his assets to get better deals from banks and insurance companies and low estimates on the same properties when it came time to pay taxes . Trump and the Trump Organization have denied that they were wrong.

In December, James investigators sent Trump a subpoena asking him to hand over documents, including handwritten notes and cell phones that he may have been using at the time. Returning to the strategy he has employed for many of his legal battles over the past few years, Trump and his attorneys have dragged their feet, leading to the decision by Engoron, a New York state judge, to detain Trump. personallywith contempt.

Trump’s lawyers had simply told Engoron that Trump did not have the required documents, but Engoron found their arguments non-persuasive, noting that they did not even have an affidavit from Trump himself claiming that he had no relevant documents. Engoron ordered a fine of $ 10,000 per day until Trump delivered the required documents. Trump appealed the contempt ruling, but an appellate judge refused to suspend the fines, meaning Trump would continue to face fines as his appeal slowly made its way through the system. April 29. , Trump tried to persuade Engoron to “eliminate” the contempt by presenting new assurances that he had done everything possible to locate any relevant documents. That filing included an affidavit from Trump. But Engoron remained unconvinced and refused to suspend the fines.

“Mr. Trump’s personal affidavit is completely devoid of useful details,” Engoron wrote on April 29.

Over the weekend, Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, sent Engoron a new explanation. Trump doesn’t have handwritten notes yet, she told him, but she said she did personally looked for for any record by going through all the dress drawers, nightstands, and desks in Trump’s residences and personal offices at both his New Jersey Bedminster golf club and Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. While Trump has used a cellphone to call and tweet for years, Habba said the phones he used cannot be found. According to his statement and an included affidavit from Trump, he had two cell phones and a Samsung smartphone before taking office. Trump said he did not know where the flip-phones are and that he took the Samsung phone to the White House where he “was taken away from me at one point”. These days, Trump said, he has two phones, a several year old iPhone for personal use and a brand new phone given to him by his new social media startup TruthSocial that is only used for “truth.”

This was enough for Engoron to lighten Trump, at least a little. In his new ruling, released Wednesday afternoon, Engoron ordered that as long as Trump continues to cooperate and provides additional affidavits from various Trump Organization employees and details on what steps the company has taken or failed to take to retain important documents, the fines will stop piling up starting May 6 (the day Habba presented his final details). Trump must also pay the $ 110,000 into an escrow account for the New York Attorney General’s Office, to be paid or returned to Trump when the appeals court finally decides whether the contempt sentence should be overturned.

All of this must be done by May 20, Engoron wrote, or else the fines will not only restart, but will be assessed for each day between May 6 and May 20 ($ 150,000) for which Trump was released from trouble.