Court Upholds Sanctions Against Trump For Obstructing Letitia James

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A New York appeals court has upheld $110,000 in financial penalties previously imposed on Donald Trump under the supervision of Judge Arthur Engoron for failing to sufficiently comply with demands for evidence in a civil investigation into the Trump businesses by New York state Attorney General Letitia James.

That investigation has now culminated in the infamous lawsuit James filed against Trump, prominent adult children of his, and his family business over what she says are years of financial misconduct, hinging on extreme misrepresentations of the values of company assets. She outlined problems like the claimed value for a building on Wall Street in Manhattan inexplicably skyrocketing by hundreds of millions of dollars over only a few years. A major point of contention in Trump’s compliance with James’s demands originating with a 2021 subpoena was a lack of detail he provided for the searches his team ostensibly conducted for records that would relate to the demands under dispute.

“The court correctly determined, based on the papers on the motion, that petitioner established by clear and convincing evidence that respondent’s March 31, 2022 response to the subpoena, stating that a diligent search had failed to locate any responsive documents in his possession or custody, without providing any search or document retention policy details as required under the subpoena’s unambiguous instructions, prejudicially violated the lawful, clear mandate of the court, of which he had knowledge,” the appeals court said. The court specifically affirmed the financial penalties that Engoron imposed. Trump has evidently already paid the fine, suggesting he and his team were imagining he’d perhaps get it back if the appeals court decided the subsequent challenge in his favor. The appeals judges who considered Engoron’s decisions were unanimous in upholding the penalties for the former president, whose company also recently paid the large fines a different judge imposed after a conviction by a jury on a slew of tax fraud allegations.

Those financial penalties, a little over $1.6 million, were the maximum allowed under current rules, and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg pushed for a change. “It is also an important reminder that our state law must change so that we can impose more significant penalties and sanctions on corporations that commit crimes in New York,” Bragg said last month. Bragg is also still pursuing a separate investigation that has turned to the matter of Trump’s involvement in hush money paid to women with whom he purportedly had affairs. In that case, David Pecker, an ex-publisher of the National Enquirer, was recently set to be providing grand jury testimony. A potential case could focus on business records falsified to obscure Michael Cohen was receiving reimbursements for himself providing some of the hush money.