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Donald Trump hit with motion for contempt in NY civil probe

The former president has objected to producing documents as part of a civil probe while a criminal probe with a similar scope is ongoing.

(CN) — After the former president missed a deadline to produce documents for a state probe of his business dealings, the New York attorney general asked a state court on Thursday to hold Donald J. Trump in contempt.

New York Attorney General Letitia James wants Trump to face a fine of $10,000 a day until he complies with an order that the court made in February.

“This Court’s order was not an opening bid for a negotiation or an invitation for a new round of challenges to the subpoena. It was, rather, a court order entered after full briefing and argument during which Mr. Trump could have, but did not, raise any of the purported objections or assertions he has now raised,” the attorney general's 26-page motion states.

Trump opted to lodge objections to the subpoena on March 31, which was the deadline for him to turn over documents.

“We are prepared to adamantly oppose the frivolous and baseless motion filed by the attorney general’s office today," Trump's attorney Alina Habba said in an email this afternoon. "Our client has consistently complied with the many discovery requests served by the attorney general’s office over the years.”

During a mid-February hearing before Judge Arthur Engoron in Manhattan Supreme Court, attorneys for Trump and his children attacked the state's civil subpoena as improper given that the state is also engaged in a concurrent criminal probe of the Trump Organization.

Engoron declined to quash the subpoena, however, ruling that “personal animus" did not catalyze the investigation into whether the Trump Organization made misrepresentations on financial documents such as tax filings and annual financial statements. Rather, the investigation began after Trump's former longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen testified to Congress that the organization had been cooking its books.

The judge’s order said Trump had to sit for a deposition as part of the proceedings.

Days after Engoron issued his order, two of the top prosecutors leading the criminal probe in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office resigned. Trump’s attorney, Ronald Fischetti, said he told his client that the criminal probe was effectively over.

Originally, Trump had until March 3 to hand over documents to the Attorney General's Office as part of its civil probe, but his attorneys asked for an extension of March 31. Trump’s attorneys appealed the portion of the judge’s order ruling the former president sit for questioning, but did not appeal the document production.

Among their arguments in the March 31 objections brief, Trump's attorneys called the request for documents “unlimited in scope, subject or time.” They also accused the attorney general of seeking some information “protected by Presidential executive privilege.”

Trump's objection says the attorney general asked for documents surrounding plans to develop the Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County as well as communications with Forbes Magazine.

Invoking the mantra she has oft repeated while issuing statements regarding the proceedings against the former president, James once again reiterated in a statement that Trump does not stand above the law but he decided to avoid a “crystal clear” order.

“Instead of obeying a court order, Mr. Trump is trying to evade it,” James said. “We are seeking the court’s immediate intervention because no one is above the law.”

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