02_trump congress tax returns
CNN  — 

Former President Donald Trump does not have any documents subpoenaed by the New York attorney general’s office as part of its civil investigation into the Trump Organization’s finances and shouldn’t be held in contempt, he told a state court.

“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,” Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a court filing Tuesday.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking to hold Trump in contempt and fine him $10,000 a day for failing to comply with a subpoena sent in December for documents. Investigators are seeking documents and communications related to Trump’s statements of financial condition, valuation of assets on the statements, and records used to prepare the statements, according to the subpoena.

James’ subpoena also seeks records relating to the financing of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, conservation easements, planned development at the Trump family estate known as Seven Springs, insurance coverage, and records about his wealth that were provided to reporters with Forbes magazine.

Trump’s lawyer called the proposed fine “grossly excessive.”

James’ office has increased pressure to force the compliance with subpoenas as it heads toward an end-of-April deadline when a tolling agreement with the Trump Organization expires. Last month, at its request, New York state Judge Arthur Engoron set a deadline requiring the Trump Organization to comply in full with subpoenas for documents by April 29. James’ office also put pressure on Trump personally to respond to the document requests by moving to hold him in civil contempt.

James has alleged that since initiating the investigation in 2019 that her office has uncovered “significant” evidence “indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”

Trump has denied wrongdoing, and a spokesperson for the Trump Organization said in a statement that the “allegations are baseless and will be vigorously defended.”

The dispute over Trump’s records was previewed in a January court filing when James’ office said they learned from witnesses that Trump kept hard copies of documents and used sticky notes to communicate with employees. It said a file cabinet pertaining to Trump’s records was never searched to comply with a subpoena.

“This file was never searched because the Trump Organization determined, improbably, that Mr. Trump was not involved in the preparation of his own financial statements,” the AG’s office wrote.

At the court hearing last month, a lawyer for the attorney general’s office said it was “unbelievable” that the Trump Organization had identified only 10 documents that it said came from Trump’s office files.

Investigators have also sought to hold the Trump Organization’s longtime appraiser Cushman & Wakefield in contempt for failing to comply with subpoenas. The attorney general’s office said it is looking into the potential culpability of the appraisers in preparing the financial statements. Cushman has said it is “fundamentally untrue” that it hasn’t responded to the attorney general’s office and that it stands by its appraisers.

Engoron has scheduled a hearing for Monday to consider the attorney general’s contempt motion.