Donald Trump Dealt a Blow in New York Fraud Case

A New York Supreme Court judge on Monday ruled to hold Donald Trump in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena, the latest development in the former president's ongoing fight with the office of state Attorney General Letitia James.

The decision was a major victory for James in the New York fraud case. State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump will be fined $10,000 every day until he complies with the subpoena.

James' office has been conducting an investigation into Trump's business practices and subpoenaed the former president earlier this year for documents as part of its probe into his and the Trump Organization's financial dealings. James said that he refused to comply with the order, so she moved this month to hold him in contempt.

Trump's lawyer, Alina Habba, said in a statement shared with Newsweek after the ruling Monday that they "respectfully disagree with the court's decision."

"All documents responsive to the subpoena were produced to the attorney general months ago. The only issue raised by the attorney general at today's hearing was with an affidavit submitted which copied the form mandated by the attorney general. This does not even come close to meeting the standard on a motion for contempt and, thus, we intend to appeal," the statement read.

Trump Contempt Motion
New York Attorney General Letitia James' office has been conducting an investigation into Donald Trump's business practices and subpoenaed the former president earlier this year for documents as part of its probe into his and the Trump Organization's financial dealings. Above, Trump speaks during a rally hosted by the former president at the Delaware County Fairgrounds on April 23, 2022, in Delaware, Ohio. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

James celebrated the ruling.

"Today, justice prevailed," she said in a statement. "For years, Donald Trump has tried to evade the law and stop our lawful investigation into him and his company's financial dealings. Today's ruling makes clear: No one is above the law."

In February, Engoron ordered Trump to "comply in full" with the subpoena after he initially challenged the order. But instead of producing the documents by the deadline, Trump "raised a new round of objections to the document requests in the subpoena" on March 31 and "stated that he would not produce any documents responsive to OAG's [office of the attorney general's] subpoena, in direct violation of the judge's order," James' office said in an April 7 press release announcing the motion for contempt.

"The judge's order was crystal clear: Donald J. Trump must comply with our subpoena and turn over relevant documents to my office," James said in a statement at the time. "Instead of obeying a court order, Mr. Trump is trying to evade it. We are seeking the court's immediate intervention because no one is above the law."

Habba filed a response to the motion for contempt last week, saying that he was not in possession of any of the subpoenaed documents.

"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," Habba wrote in the filing

She argued that Trump "thoroughly complied" with the order by conveying that he was not in possession of the documents and identifying the Trump Organization as the party that did possess them. Habba also accused James' office of turning the matter into a "public spectacle" by filing the contempt motion on April 7 "without warning" and issuing the press release "denouncing Respondent's supposed 'disobedience' of the court order."

James' office did not explain in the motion how Trump's response to the subpoena was "insufficient in any way," Habba added.

Engoron scheduled a hearing for Monday over the contempt motion, and ultimately ruled in James' favor.

"Mr. Trump, I know you take your business seriously and I take mine seriously. I hereby hold you in civil contempt and fine you $10,000 per day until you purge that contempt," Engoron said at the hearing, according to CNN.

Update 4/25/22, 4:05 p.m. ET: This story was updated with comment from Alina Habba and Letitia James.