NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has appealed a New York judge’s decision to hold him in contempt of court and fine him $10,000 per day for failing to adequately respond to a subpoena issued in the state attorney general’s civil investigation into his business dealings.
Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, filed a notice of appeal Wednesday with the appellate division of the state’s trial court, making good on her pledge to challenge Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron’s ruling, issued Monday.
Habba questioned the legal basis for holding Trump in contempt, arguing in court papers that he responded properly to the subpoena and that the attorney general’s office had failed to show his conduct “was calculated to defeat, impair, impede, or prejudice” the investigation and refused to engage in “good-faith discussions” before seeking to have him fined.
“All documents responsive to the subpoena were produced to the attorney general months ago,” Habba said in a statement after Engoron’s ruling.
Engoron said a contempt finding was appropriate because Trump and his lawyers hadn’t shown they had conducted a proper search for records sought by the subpoena.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, had asked the court to hold Trump in contempt after he failed to produce any documents to satisfy a March 31 court-imposed deadline to meet the terms of the subpoena.
Trump, a Republican, has been fighting James in court over her investigation, which he has called a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
James has been conducting a lengthy investigation into the Trump Organization, the former president’s family company, centering around what she has claimed is a pattern of misleading banks and tax authorities about the value of his properties.
The contempt finding by the judge came despite a spirited argument by Habba, who insisted repeatedly that she went to great lengths to comply with the subpoena, even traveling to Florida to ask Trump specifically whether he had in his possession any documents that would be responsive to the demand.
Habba noted that Trump does not send emails or text messages and has no work computer “at home or anywhere else.” She described the search for documents as “diligent.”
Investigators for James have said in court filings that they uncovered evidence that Trump may have misstated the value of assets like golf courses and skyscrapers on his financial statements for more than a decade.
At the hearing, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Amer said the investigation was being hampered “because we don’t have evidence from the person at the top of this organization.”
And he said the failure to turn documents over in response to the subpoena was “effectively Mr. Trump thumbing his nose at this court’s order.”
A parallel criminal investigation is being conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, also a Democrat.