WASHINGTON — A New York appellate judge has denied former President Donald Trump's request to suspend a $10,000-a-day fine while he appeals a lower court ruling that found him in contempt for failing to produce documents for a state attorney general investigation of his company.
Trump owes $10,000 a day since April 26 because he failed to submit documents subpoenaed by New York Attorney General Letitia James in her civil probe into the Trump Organization’s business practices.
On Monday, Trump's lawyers asked the appellate court to stay the fine while he appealed state Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron's ruling. But on Tuesday, appellate Judge Tanya Kennedy denied the motion. The full court will decide whether to halt the fine later this month, she said.
Kennedy's decision came several days after Trump's attorney, Alina Habba, appealed to Engoron over his civil contempt ruling.
In a two-paragraph affidavit, Trump argued he did not have the requested documents and should not have to pay the fine.
Engoron, however, rejected Trump’s effort to remove the daily fine, saying the former president’s affidavit was “devoid of any useful detail.”
“Notably, it fails to state where he kept his files, how his files were stored in the regular course of business, who had access to such files, what, if any, the retention policy was for such files, and, importantly, where he believes such files are currently located,” the judge wrote on Friday. He ordered Trump to provide a detailed affidavit answering all those of questions “in order to purge his contempt.”
In a statement, Habba said Engoron “completely disregarded the detailed affidavits that demonstrate the meticulous efforts undertaken to effectuate this search” and has “improperly held my client in contempt for a violation that he did not commit.”
Engoron found Trump in civil contempt on April 25 and instituted the hefty fine, which had been requested by James as a way to pressure the former president to hand over the documents she is seeking.
James' office has been investigating whether Trump and his business manipulated financial statements and has alleged that the probe has "uncovered substantial evidence establishing numerous misrepresentations in Mr. Trump’s financial statements provided to banks, insurers, and the Internal Revenue Service."
Trump and his company have denied any wrongdoing. In a statement Tuesday, Trump called the New York courts "biased, unyielding, and totally unfair" and said Jame's probe is “a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in history.”