New York Judge Lifts Contempt Order Against Trump in Civil Investigation

By Frank Fang
Frank Fang
Frank Fang
journalist
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers US, China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
June 30, 2022 Updated: June 30, 2022

Former President Donald Trump has been cleared of contempt of court, a New York judge ruled on June 29.

New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron found Trump in contempt in April for not responding to a subpoena issued by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who began investigating the Trump Organization in 2019.

On June 29, Engoron purged the contempt order after reviewing additional documents submitted by Trump’s legal team. Additionally, Engoron said the $110,000 fine that Trump paid as part of the contempt finding will continue to be held in an escrow account, while the former president appeals the initial contempt order.

Trump was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 per day in April, which added up to $110,000 by early May. The fine stopped accruing in early May following Engoron’s order.

Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said in a statement that the original contempt ruling was “unwarranted.”

“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. We will push ahead with our appeal to secure justice for our client.”

In January, James said her office found “significant” new evidence showing that the Trump Organization had “used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits.” The Trump Organization manages hotels, resorts, golf courses, and other real estate properties.

However, Habba has previously said that James “has weaponized her office through this political witch hunt” and her actions are “a threat to our democracy.”

James, a Democrat, has been the state’s attorney general since 2018, when she defeated Keith Wofford, a Republican, in the general election. James was a candidate for the 2022 gubernatorial race in New York before suspending her campaign in December 2021.

Meanwhile, Trump said in a statement in April that James should allocate resources of her office to fight crimes in New York, rather than investigating his company.

“With the horrible Subway Shootings and Violent Crime in New York being at an all-time high, where people are afraid to walk the streets, the racist and highly partisan Attorney General of New York State, failed Gubernatorial candidate Letitia James, should focus her efforts on saving the State of New York and ending its reputation as a Crime Capital of the World, instead of spending millions of dollars and utilizing a large portion of her office in going after Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization (for many years!), who have probably done more for New York than virtually any other person or group, including employing many wonderful people and paying millions and millions of dollars in taxes,” Trump said.

“This never-ending Witch Hunt must stop. We don’t need racist political hacks going after good, hardworking people for highly partisan political gain. The people of our Country see right through it all, and won’t take this Radical Left ‘sickness’ anymore. Make New York Great Again!”

Trump and his two oldest children, Donald Trump Jr.. and Ivanka Trump, are scheduled to testify in James’s investigation beginning on July 15. New York’s Court of Appeal rejected Trump’s appeal to halt depositions in the investigation earlier this month.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this article.

Frank Fang
journalist
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers US, China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.