Image Source: The Guardian
A New York judge on Wednesday dismissed former President Donald Trump’s civil contempt conviction and ordered him to pay $110,000 in fines if certain conditions were met.
Judge Arthur Engoron set a slew of obligations that must be met by May 20, or the contempt finding would be reinstated and may be enforced retroactively. Among the conditions are providing signed declarations describing the Trump Organization’s document retention and destruction policies, including how Post-it notes were handled, and completing the review of five boxes tied to Trump that were housed off-site. A written ruling is expected later Wednesday.
The judge also agreed to let Trump place the fee into an escrow account while he appealed the contempt ruling. He did, however, warn Trump’s attorney: “The fine should be paid. The fines have been raised to $110,000.”
The judge halted the clock on the penalties as of last Friday after Trump’s attorneys produced newly sworn affidavits, including one from Trump, explaining his efforts to comply with the New York attorney general’s office’s subpoena for records.
The New York attorney general’s office attempted to hold Trump in contempt after he failed to comply with a subpoena for documents issued in December 2021. The attorney general’s office is investigating the Trump Organization’s financial statements for lenders, insurers, and tax purposes.
A state attorney, Andrew Amer, focused on whether the Post-it notes, which Trump was known to use to communicate with his staff, were turned over at a hearing on Wednesday.
“To our knowledge, no documents have Post-its on them. And it’s one of the strangest aspects of the show thus far, given Mr. Trump’s claims that it was a method for him to communicate.” Ames claims. He advocated that the policy on document retention and disposal include Post-it note handling.
The Trump Organization’s top counsel informed Alina Habba, a Trump attorney, that all Post-it notes had previously been submitted to the attorney general’s office. She said, holding out a stack of Post-its to the court, “It’s a little comical.” “Do you have a set of rules for using Post-its?”
The court recommended that they create a new legal tactic known as a Post-it affidavit. The judge also asked Trump’s attorneys to detail any attempts to reach former Trump executive assistants and whether or not they could be located.
On Friday, Trump filed an amended affidavit with the judge, claiming that he no longer has Trump Organization-issued cell phones and that his personal cell phone had been turned over for a search. Habba claimed to have personally investigated every nightstand, desk, and closet in Trump’s home and found no documents sought by the subpoena.