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(Reuters) – 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 Ms. James had established by “clear and convincing evidence” that Mr. Trump’s response to the Dec. 1, 2021, subpoena was inadequate.
The court said Mr. 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 Mr. Trump complied with the subpoena.
Mr. Trump accumulated, and later paid, $110,000 in fines.
Lawyers for the former U.S. president did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Ms. James said Tuesday’s decision “sends a clear message that there are consequences for abusing the legal system.”
The attorney general sued Mr. 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 Mr. Trump’s net worth in order to win better terms from banks and insurers.
Last month, she called for new sanctions against Mr. Trump, saying his claims to lack sufficient knowledge about many specific accusations in the lawsuit were “demonstrably false,” frivolous or otherwise improper.
Mr. Trump has called Ms. James’ probe a politically motivated witch hunt.
He ended two legal challenges to Ms. James’ lawsuit last month after a Florida judge imposed $937,989 of sanctions against Mr. 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 Mr. Trump posts a $1.03 million bond for a possible appeal.