By Jonathan Stempel
(MAINNEWS) – NEW YORK, – A New York state appeals court on Tuesday upheld an order finding Donald Trump in civil contempt for having failed to comply with a subpoena from New York Attorney General Letitia James in her probe of his business practices.
In a 5-0 decision, the Appellate Division in Manhattan said James had established by “clear and convincing evidence” that Trump’s response to the Dec. 1, 2021, subpoena was inadequate.
The court said Trump’s claim that a diligent search had failed to uncover relevant documents in his possession, without explaining what steps were taken to ensure nothing would be lost or discarded, “prejudicially violated the lawful, clear mandate of the court, of which he had knowledge.”
It also said Justice Arthur Engoron, who oversees the case in a state court in Manhattan, had discretion to impose a $10,000 daily fine until Trump complied with the subpoena.
Trump accumulated, and later paid, $110,000 in fines.
Lawyers for the former U.S. president did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
James said Tuesday’s decision “sends a clear message that there are consequences for abusing the legal system.”
The attorney general sued Trump, his three oldest adult children and the Trump Organization for $250 million in September for an alleged decade-long scheme to manipulate asset values and Trump’s net worth in order to win better terms from banks and insurers.
Last month, she called for new sanctions against Trump, saying his claims to lack sufficient knowledge about many specific accusations in the lawsuit were “demonstrably false,” frivolous or otherwise improper.
Trump has called James’ probe a politically motivated witch hunt.
He ended two legal challenges to James’ lawsuit last month, after a Florida judge imposed $937,989 of sanctions against Trump and his lawyer for filing a “completely frivolous” lawsuit accusing Hillary Clinton of trying to rig the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Those sanctions are on hold until Trump posts a $1.03 million bond for a possible appeal.