Former President Donald Trump says he no longer has cell phones requested by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) in her investigation of alleged fraud by the Trump Organization, in Trump’s latest attempt to stay a $10,000-a-day fine for contempt.
In an affidavit dated Friday, Trump said he had turned over all the material in his possession that James’ office had subpoenaed, in his latest effort to end the daily fine that has so far run to $140,000.
The fine was imposed by Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron, who accepted James’s claim that Trump had failed to comply with a subpoena from her office requesting documents and information related to the fraud probe.
Trump said he was not in possession of any phones or similar devices from the Trump Organization, adding that four phones he had previously owned had gone missing, including a Samsung phone that was taken from him “at some point” while he was president.
Trump said he only had two cell phones: an iPhone for personal use and a new phone used exclusively for posting on Truth Social, the Trump-founded “non-woke” social media platform.
Trump said he had submitted his personal iPhone to be searched and imaged in March in accordance with the subpoena, and then again in May, out of an “abundance of caution.”
Trump said he did not personally keep track of documents such as those subpoenaed by the attorney general’s office, and he had authorized his attorneys to search his personal residence and office at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, his personal residence and office at the Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and his personal residence at Trump Tower in New York City for requested documents.
James’ investigation into the Trump Organization’s business practices is a civil probe, not a criminal probe. A guilty verdict in a civil case typically does not lead to penalties like imprisonment, but often results in fines or other sanctions. Additionally, civil cases require less conclusive proof than criminal cases to establish a guilty verdict. Trump is the subject of a criminal probe by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, though the future of the case remains in doubt after two prosecutors leading the case resigned in February.
James’ office claims that the Trump Organization systematically misstated the value of its own assets in order to obtain benefits like loans, insurance coverage and tax deductions. However, the office must gather additional information and testimony before determining whether or not to sue Trump or the Trump Organization, James said. Trump and his associates have consistently denied allegations of misconduct, dismissing the probe as “another political witch-hunt.” Last month, Engoron found Trump in contempt after he allegedly failed to meet a March 31 deadline to turn over subpoenaed documents. Trump has repeatedly and unsuccessfully sought to overturn Engoron’s $10,000-a-day fines and has appealed his contempt ruling. Engoron said that a previous affidavit by Trump regarding the subpoena was “completely devoid of any useful detail.”
It remains to be seen whether Trump’s affidavit will convince Engoron that Trump has complied with subpoenas to the best of his ability and is not in contempt.
“N.Y. Judge Refuses To Stay Trump’s $10,000-A-Day Fine For Contempt” (Forbes)