Donald Trump has told a New York court that he simply doesn’t have the documents that were subpoenaed by New York State Attorney General Letitia James in the civil investigation targeting the former president and the Trump Organization for tax fraud and financial shenanigans.
Trump’s lawyers told a state court today:
“After conducting a diligent search and review, Respondent’s counsel determined that Respondent was not in possession of any documents responsive to the Subpoena and that all potentially responsive documents were in the possession, custody or control of the Trump Organization.”
The claim by Trump attorney Alina Habba comes as Attorney General James is attempting to have her client declared in contempt of court and be fined $10,000 per day for failing to produce documents that were subpoenaed last December.
The subpoena is seeking documents and communications concerning Trump’s statements of financial condition, his valuation of assets on those statements, and the records that were utilized to prepare the statements. According to CNN, James is also specifically targeting “records relating to the financing of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, conservation easements, planned development at the Trump family estate known as Seven Springs, insurance coverage, and records about his wealth that were provided to reporters with Forbes magazine.”
Habba called the requested $10,000 per day fine for failure to honor the subpoena “grossly excessive.”
However, at a court hearing last month, prosecutors from James’ office revealed that Trump has personally turned over only 10 documents so far in response to the subpoena, while the vast majority of the documents received so far have come instead from the Trump Organization. The attorney general’s office told the court in a motion two weeks ago that Trump had not complied “at all” with a February court order from New York State Judge Arthur Engoron to turn over personal documents.
According to CNN:
“The dispute over Trump’s records was previewed in a January court filing when James’ office said they learned from witnesses that Trump kept hard copies of documents and used sticky notes to communicate with employees. It said a file cabinet pertaining to Trump’s records was never searched to comply with a subpoena.”
“‘This file was never searched because the Trump Organization determined, improbably, that Mr. Trump was not involved in the preparation of his own financial statements,’ the AG’s office wrote.”
Given Donald Trump’s impeccably bad track record when it comes to credibility, New York state prosecutors have called his assertion that he could only find 10 documents pertaining to the subpoena “unbelievable.”
With Judge Engoron having scheduled a hearing next Monday to decide upon the attorney general’s contempt motion, we can look forward to seeing whether Trump will wriggle free of the latest attempt to finally provide him with accountability for his actions, or in the case of his response to the subpoena, his inactions.
Original reporting by Kara Scannell at CNN.