It was just two weeks ago when New York Attorney General Letitia James asked a judge to hold Donald Trump in contempt over the former president’s alleged efforts to stonewall her civil tax fraud investigation. As NBC News reported, the state AG’s office said Trump failed to comply with a judge’s order to turn over subpoenaed documents and asked the judge to fine him $10,000 a day until he complied.
Yesterday, the Republican’s lawyers tried to prevent that from happening. CNBC reported:
Former President Donald Trump asked a judge to reject New York Attorney General Letitia James’ bid to hold him in contempt for allegedly failing to comply with a subpoena as part of a civil investigation into his business. A lawyer for Trump argued in a court filing Tuesday that the former president complied with James’ subpoena when his legal team told her that he doesn’t have any of the documents she requested.
“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,” attorney Alina Habba wrote.
In case anyone needs a refresher on this, let’s recap.
As you might recall, the state attorney general’s office has launched a civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s controversial business practices. In defense of its subpoenas, James and her team declared in January, “Thus far in our investigation, we have uncovered significant evidence that suggests Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit. The Trumps must comply with our lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony because no one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them.”
A judge agreed, and Team Trump was scheduled to turn over documents by March 1. An NBC News report recently noted that the deadline was extended to March 31, but three weeks later, nothing’s changed: The New York attorney general’s office still doesn’t have the materials.
“[R]ather than ‘comply in full’ with the Court’s unambiguous directive by producing all responsive documents by March 31, Mr. Trump did not comply at all,” the state AG’s office said in a recent court filing.
At the time, the former president issued a statement insisting that he’s “innocent,” and that the investigation into his controversial business is “a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt of all time.” His lawyer added that Trump’s legal team would “adamantly oppose the frivolous and baseless motion filed by the Attorney General’s office.”
Yesterday, however, the response was a little different. Instead of saying that Team Trump shouldn’t have to comply with the subpoena, the new line is that Team Trump can’t comply with the subpoena because the former president doesn’t have any of the materials the state attorney general’s office is looking for.
Will the judge buy this? Watch this space.