Earlier this year, New York Attorney General Letitia James convinced a judge to hold Donald Trump in contempt of court, over his refusal to turn over certain Trump Organization documents. As a result, Trump quickly racked up six figures in fines and had to turn over the documents anyway, just to keep the fines from piling higher.
Now a judge is holding a major New York real estate firm in contempt of court for refusing to turn over documents in that same Trump Organization probe, per ABC News. It raises questions about why this firm is willing to be held in contempt just to protect the Trump Organization. Do the documents in question also potentially incriminate this firm? Is this merely some kind of misplaced personal loyalty to Donald Trump? The firm claims that it simply couldn’t pull together all the evidence in time, and that it’s complying as best it can. We’ll see what the courts think of that explanation.
In any case, when a judge is pissed off enough to hold you in contempt of court, your options begin to rapidly narrow. The $10,000 daily fines are just a start, and if the firm doesn’t promptly cave, the judge can quickly escalate those fines or even have the principals of the real estate firm hauled in.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump and two of his kids are scheduled to testify in this same case on July 15th – just nine days from now – after they exhausted their appeals and couldn’t stall their testimony anymore. In this kind of probe into the Trump Organization, testimony from the leaders of the Trump Organization would typically be the very last piece of evidence obtained before prosecutors announce their findings and punishments. Letitia James could be having the courts hold the third party real estate firm in contempt in an effort to force it to turn over all the evidence by July 15th, so that the probe doesn’t have to stretch beyond the date of Trump’s own testimony.
When NY Attorney General Letitia James announces her findings in the Trump Organization probe, it’ll be notable for two reasons. First, we’ll see what kinds of financial penalties she assigns the Trump Organization, which could include its forced shutdown and the seizure of all of its assets – including assets that Donald Trump may have tried to shift around. Second, we’ll see if James also announces criminal charges against Donald Trump, to go along with civil penalties. In other words, when the Manhattan DA decided to hold off on criminally charging Trump, was he merely handing off the criminal case to the NY Attorney General? Looks like we’ll find out soon enough.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report