© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally to boost Ohio Republican candidates ahead of their May 3 primary election, at the county fairgrounds in Delaware, Ohio, U.S. April 23, 2022. REUTERS/Gaelen Morse
By Karen Freifeld and Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Former U.S. President Donald Trump must pay a $110,000 fine and meet other conditions to purge a contempt of court order over his failure to comply with a subpoena in a civil probe into his business practices by New York state’s attorney general, a judge said on Wednesday.
The judge, Arthur Engoron, also accused Trump during a virtual hearing of making a false statement in an affidavit relating to the subpoena seeking documents concerning his family real estate business, the Trump Organization.
Engoron said a $10,000-per-day fine he imposed on Trump in April for his failure to comply with the subpoena stopped accruing on Friday, when the former president and his lawyers filed new affidavits detailing steps they took to find documents relevant to Attorney General Letitia James’s investigation.
Trump said in the May 6 sworn statement that he does not have any relevant documents.
Engoron took issue with Trump’s claim in the affidavit that he has not communicated digitally since 2010, pointing to his past posts on Twitter (NYSE:) and current posts on Truth Social, a network he founded.
“We all know he uses electronic communication – 80 million people were on his Twitter feed,” Engoron said. “A sentence has to be true. That sentence is just not true.”
Michael Madaio, a lawyer for Trump, said the statement was not meant to imply that Trump did not post on social media. Alina Habba, another Trump lawyer, said Trump did not use direct messaging on Twitter and that his tweets were not relevant to the investigation.
“Everything relevant to the (attorney general’s) subpoena has been produced,” Habba said.
The judge gave Trump until May 20 to comply with the additional conditions, or else the contempt order could be restored.
The conditions include submitting affidavits from his personal assistant and others familiar with his record-keeping practices, details on practices for retaining and destroying documents, and the completion of a report by a third-party firm hired to search the Trump Organization’s records.
Once Trump pays the fine, the funds will be held in escrow pending Trump’s appeal of the contempt order.
James has said her probe has turned up evidence that the Trump Organization – which manages hotels, golf courses and other real estate around the world – has given banks and tax authorities misleading financing information in order to obtain financial benefits such as favorable loans and tax breaks.
A Republican, Trump denies wrongdoing and calls the investigation politically motivated. James is a Democrat.
Engoron also asked whether Trump had produced any post-it notes to James’s office. Trump Organization General Counsel Alan Garten testified as part of the probe that Trump used the notes to communicate with employees.
“We haven’t seen any documents that have post-its on them,” said Andrew Amer, special counsel with the attorney general’s office. “That’s one of the odd things about the production to date, given the statement that that was a means Donald Trump used to communicate.”
Habba said that if there were post-its on any documents, they would have been handed over to James. Habba said during a hearing last month that Trump “doesn’t have any post-its.”