Attorney General Letitia James’s Office has been conducting an investigation for the past 3 years into former President of the United States Donald Trump’s Organization related to its real estate holdings. It’s been reported the A.G. is attempting to bring the investigation to a close, and Monday’s ruling would seem to add legitimacy to that claim. Judge Arthur Engoron out of Manhattan first found Trump in contempt of court for not providing documents requested by the A.G., despite being subpoenaed and given an extension. Judge Engoron ordered Trump to pay $10,000 for every day past the deadline, in an effort designed to “coerce” him to comply, rather than “punish” him, said an attorney for the A.G.’s Office.
Mr. Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, says her client has complied with the order, as the answer to the subpoenas had already been filed with the courts. Habba stated that she herself had searched for the requested documents, as well as interviewed Mr. Trump in person, who assured her if the documents exist, they would have been turned over to the Trump Organization. Furthermore, Habba stated, “My client is an honest person, much to the dismay of some of the people in this room.”
Trump himself has called the investigation “a politically motivated witch hunt”, and has maintained he is a victim of a political vendetta. He has also called Ms. James, “a racist” towards white men. Habba said they “respectfully disagree” with the Judge’s decision and will be appealing the decision. She also plans to file the amended affidavit in the case, which very possibly will satisfy the Judge.
Judge Engoron said Habba’s affidavit was “inadequate” and needed more detail on what search measures were taken where, etc. Judge Engoron also stated she found Trump in contempt because of “repeated failures” to produce requested documents in a timely manner. The same Judge also ruled in favor of Ms. James in her request to compel real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield to comply with subpoenas issued for documents related to the Trump case. The court has also issued subpoenas to two Trump children, Ivanka and Donald Jr., who are appealing the requested testimony. Judge Engoron was sending a clear message that he did not appreciate Trump wasting the court’s time, and said “I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously,” right before finding him in contempt.
Attorney General James’s Office has said there are “significant discrepancies” in the financial statements of the Trump Organization and says there’s evidence to back up their claims of fraudulent information. They are expected to take further action soon. James spoke about the ruling, saying it proves “no one is above the law,” and seems to have invested significant time and resources into examining over 900,000 documents in the investigation. James is also working with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on a criminal investigation that so far has indicted the CFO of Trump’s Organization, and is currently still ongoing.
The Attorney General is citing Trump used “misleading valuations” in order to secure better loan terms and millions in tax breaks, and says the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield did some of the valuations, which is why they’re being subpoenaed, even though they cut ties with the Trump Organization after the January 6th incident. Here are some of the properties involved:
- Seven Springs – A 212-acre property in Westchester County near Manhattan bought in 1995 by the Trump Organization. The property has valuation discrepancies.
- The Trump Tower Triplex – Trump’s apartment triplex was valued on the basis of a 30,000 ft² space, when actual square footage is 10,996 ft².
- Trump’s International Golf Club Scotland – valuation discrepancies.
- Trump National Golf Club Westchester – valuation discrepancies.
Additionally, the A.G. said Trump misrepresented two properties in particular on forms to the IRS, and for better insurance coverage. With the obvious attention to detail applied in this case resulting in what seems like relatively minor revelations, one hopes our current government leadership is putting as much effort into building substantial cases against the City’s worst landlords, as well. Incidentally, Judge Engoron started Trump’s daily $10K fine on Tuesday, April 26th.
Rochelle Harris is a passionate writer originally from Phoenix, AZ. who credits her success to integrity and determination. She has a great sense of humor, loves music and her family, and writes fiction and poetry in her spare time. She is excited about the New York experience and lifestyle! Follow Rochelle on Twitter at @LinguisticAnRky or get in touch at [email protected]