Former President Trump finally caught a break amidst the onslaught of political attacks when a New York judge cleared Trump of contempt charges in connection with a fraud investigation by state Attorney General Letitia James, CBS News reported.
Trump was held in contempt after failing to hand over records related to his personal finances and the financing of several Trump Organization properties.
A subpoena was issued in December demanding the documents be handed over, despite Trump’s legal team claiming several times that the materials responsive to James’ subpoena simply didn’t exist.
“Although we are pleased that the court has lifted the contempt finding, we maintain that it was wholly unwarranted and improper in the first place,” Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, said in a text message. “We will push ahead with our appeal to secure justice for our client.”
According to the Washington Post, the initial charges were brought by former New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D), who thought that Trump could be guilty of manipulating the values of his properties in order to gain tax advantages as well as favorable loan rates.
The investigation continued through the end of Vance’s term with no charges brought against Trump. The case then fell to Alvin Bragg, Vance’s successor, who was given the authority to decide whether to finish presenting evidence to the grand jury and request a decision on the allegations. He decided in early May to pause the process, however.
CBS News added:
Trump was fined $10,000 per day through May 6, when his attorneys first filed explanations of their attempts to search for subpoenaed documents. In the weeks since, the judge and the attorney general demanded affidavits from two dozen Trump Organization employees and attorneys in an effort to learn how Donald Trump’s eponymous company has for a decade apparently kept nearly no records on the personal finances of its namesake.
Nearly all the employees who filed affidavits described a company that has few concrete policies related to the destruction and retention of documents related to Trump’s personal finances, leaving such decisions to individuals, or in certain cases, their department heads.
Those statements largely mirrored what Trump said in his own affidavit, that “it has been my customary practice to delegate document handling and retention responsibilities to my executive assistants.”
In a June 21 filing, Andrew Amer, an attorney for James’ office, said the AG supported lifting the contempt finding, not because officials are happy with the explanations they received, but “because it is not apparent what else, if anything, [Trump] and his counsel can be ordered to do.”