New York judge lifts civil contempt finding against Trump, orders him to pay $110,000 in fines
Judge Arthur Engoron set several conditions that he said need to be met by May 20 or he will restore the contempt finding and possibly apply it retroactively. Those conditions include providing sworn statements describing the Trump Organization’s document retention and destruction policy, including how Post-it notes were handled, and completing the review of five boxes tied to Trump that were located in an off-site storage facility. A written decision is expected to be issued later Wednesday.
The judge also agreed to allow Trump to place the fine in an escrow account until the former President’s appeal of the contempt ruling is completed.
But he told Trump’s attorney: “I want the fine paid. That fine is now $110,000.”
The judge stopped the clock on the fine as of last Friday when Trump’s attorneys submitted additional sworn statements, including one from Trump, about his effort to comply with the subpoena from the New York attorney general’s office for records.
The New York attorney general’s office moved to hold Trump in contempt after he failed to comply with a subpoena for documents issued in December 2021. The attorney general’s office is investigating the accuracy of financial statements the Trump Organization provided to lenders, insurers and for tax benefits.
At a hearing Wednesday, Andrew Amer, an attorney for the state, homed in on the issue of the Post-it notes, which Trump was known to use to communicate with his staff, and whether they were turned over.
“To our knowledge, we haven’t seen any documents that have Post-its on them. And that’s one of the odd things about the production to date given the statements that was a means for Mr. Trump to communicate,” Ames said. He argued the handling of Post-it notes should be included in the document retention and destruction policy.
Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, said she was told by the Trump Organization’s general counsel that all Post-it notes were already produced to the attorney general’s office.
“It’s a little comical,” she told the judge, while holding up a stack of Post-its. “I don’t have a formal practice on Post-its, do you?”
The judge said they could start a new practice in the law: the Post-it affidavit.
The judge said he also wanted Trump’s lawyers to address any efforts to reach former executive assistants to Trump and whether they could be located.
Trump on Friday filed an updated affidavit with the judge, saying that he no longer had Trump Organization-issued cell phones and that he had turned over his personal cell phone to be searched. Habba said she personally searched every nightstand, desk and closet at Trump’s properties and found no documents sought by the subpoena.
This story has been updated with additional developments and background information.