Former President Donald Trump was held in contempt of court by a New York state judge on Monday and ordered to start paying a fine of $10,000 a day until he complies with a subpoena for documents.
The decision comes as part of New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ long-running investigation into Trump’s business practices, in which James says her office is investigating potential fraud.
“Mr. Trump, I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously. I hereby hold you in civil contempt and fine you $10,000 a day,” New York Supreme Court judge Arthur Engoron said, according to CBS.
“Today, justice prevailed,” James tweeted. “Our investigation into Donald Trump and the Trump Organization’s financial dealings will continue undeterred because no one is above the law.”
Trump had previously sought to quash the subpoena for documents. But Engoron spurned his arguments and slapped him with the ongoing fine.
The move represents a rare moment of judicial accountability for Trump, who has mastered the art of evading legal culpability in part by dragging out legal battles for years.
Now, at least in this case, time is no longer on his side: The more time he takes to resolve the issue, the more he’ll have to pay.
The ruling represents the latest twist in the legal battle between Trump and James over his company’s business practices. James has claimed in court documents that Trump’s company made false representations about the valuations of various assets, and said his company engaged in “fraudulent or misleading” practices.
Trump’s company has denied wrongdoing, and accused James of running a witch hunt.
Trump lawyer Alina Habba protested in the hearing Monday that the former president had already done everything he could to comply with the subpoena.
“There is simply nothing more for him to provide. It was already provided. So, your honor, how is President Trump in contempt?" Habba asked, according to CBS.
Habba dismissed the investigation as a “fishing expedition,” and insisted that the Trump Organization was “right on schedule” with handing over documents.
“This is a political crusade,” Habba said, Reuters reported. “The attorney general’s investigation has seemingly become aimless.”
But the judge was having none of it.
“I feel like there’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room, and that is, why don’t we have an affidavit from him?” Engoron said. “There is a difference between saying something and saying something under oath.”
The Trump Organization, Trump’s family business, didn’t immediately return a request for comment from VICE News.
James’ investigation is civil in nature, meaning she can’t directly bring criminal charges. She can, however, file a lawsuit if she finds evidence of wrongdoing, but she hasn’t yet said whether she plans to bring one.
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