By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former US President Donald Trump has appealed a contempt ruling and a $10,000-per-day fine over his failure to comply with a subpoena by New York state’s attorney general about his business practices, his lawyer said in a Wednesday court filing.
The state judge, Arthur Engoron, on Monday held Trump in civil contempt for “repeated failures” to hand over materials to Attorney General Letitia James for a civil investigation launched three years ago into whether the Trump Organization improperly valued assets to obtain financial benefits.
The Republican former president denies wrongdoing and has called the probe by the Democratic state attorney general politically motivated. His lawyer, Alina Habba, said during a court hearing in Manhattan on Monday that Trump did not have any of the documents James had requested.
Engoron said he would fine Trump $10,000 per day until he complies with the subpoena. The judge said Trump did not provide enough evidence that he conducted a thorough search for the documents.
James’ office did not respond to a request for comment immediately on Trump’s appeal.
In the past, James has said the investigation had found “significant evidence” that the Trump Organization included misleading asset valuations in more than a decade of its financial statements.
The attorney general has questioned how the company valued the Trump brand, as well as golf clubs in New York and Scotland and Trump’s own penthouse apartment in midtown Manhattan’s Trump Tower.
In some cases the assets were overvalued to obtain favorable loan terms and in other cases they were undervalued to win tax, the attorney general has said.
In her appeal to New York state’s Appellate Division, Habba said Trump had “proffered a timely response to the subpoena.” She said she would ask the appellate court to review whether the fine “serves any purpose as either a compensatory or coercive remedy,” arguing that James failed to show her office was harmed by Trump’s conduct.
The former president previously lost a bid to quash the subpoena, then failed to produce the documents by a court-ordered March 3 deadline, later extended to March 31 at his lawyers’ request.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; additional reporting by Karen Freifeld; editing by Jonathan Oatis)