Numerous misleading headlines are now claiming the judge has let Trump off the contempt hook. This is false. The judge has simply given Trump a May 20th deadline to fully comply with the New York AG’s subpoena, or else the fines kick in retroactively.
This isn’t about bleeding Trump dry $10,000 at a time, nice as the thought may be. Contempt fines are about forcing someone to comply with a court order. The judge has simply said the fines will cease piling up as of today, if Trump finishes fully complying by May 20th.
If Trump now complies, New York AG Tish James gets the incriminating evidence she wants, and it’s a total win for her – and Trump loses $110,000 in fines that have accumulated up to today. If Trump does not comply, the fines continue, and he keeps losing money.
“But Trump just won’t pay it!” That’s not how anything works. Not when a judge imposes a contempt fine. Judges don’t take no for an answer. But again, this is about getting the evidence, not about daily fines against Trump.
The judge’s ruling today is a total win for Tish James, and there’s no possible way to (honestly) spin it as being good for Trump. Which is why so many news outlets are running headlines that falsely imply the judge has simply let Trump off the contempt hook – it’s the only way they can spin this positive news into a more ratings-friendly doomsday narrative.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report