Image Source: The Guardian
A New York judge on Wednesday dropped the civil contempt judgment against former President Donald Trump and ordered him to pay $110,000 in fines if certain conditions are followed.
Judge Arthur Engoron imposed many requirements that must be completed by May 20, or the contempt finding would be reinstated and may be applied retrospectively. Providing sworn declarations explaining the Trump Organization’s document retention and destruction procedures, including how Post-it notes were handled, and finishing the review of five boxes linked to Trump that were stored off-site are among the criteria. Later Wednesday, a written decision is scheduled to be issued.
The judge also agreed to allow Trump to put the fine into an escrow account until his appeal of the contempt finding is resolved.
However, he informed Trump’s lawyer: “I’d like the fine to be paid. The penalties have been increased to $110,000.”
When Trump’s attorneys presented more sworn declarations, including one from Trump, describing his efforts to comply with the New York attorney general’s office’s subpoena for records, the judge suspended the clock on the fine as of last Friday.
After Trump failed to comply with a subpoena for papers issued in December 2021, the New York attorney general’s office tried to hold him in contempt. The attorney general’s office is looking into the veracity of financial statements presented to lenders, insurers, and for tax purposes by the Trump Organization.
Andrew Amer, a state attorney, focused on the topic of the Post-it notes, which Trump was known to use to communicate with his staff, and whether they were turned over at a hearing on Wednesday.
“We haven’t seen any documents with Post-its on them to our knowledge. And it’s one of the strange things about the production so far, considering Mr. Trump’s assertions that it was a way for him to communicate, “According to Ames. He proposed that the policy on document retention and destruction should encompass the handling of Post-it notes.
According to Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, the Trump Organization’s chief counsel assured her that all Post-it notes had already been delivered to the attorney general’s office.
“It’s a touch comical,” she said, holding up a stack of Post-its to the court. “Do you have a formal practice using Post-its?”
The court suggested that they develop a new legal technique called the Post-it affidavit. The judge also asked Trump’s lawyers to discuss any attempts to contact former Trump executive assistants and whether they could be found.
Trump filed a revised affidavit with the judge on Friday, stating that he no longer has Trump Organization-issued cell phones and that his personal cell phone has been given over to be searched. Habba claimed that she personally checked every nightstand, desk, and closet at Trump’s residence and discovered no documents sought by the subpoena.
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