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COSTLY MISTAKE: Unsealed order reveals contempt fine after Trump Org. failed to turn over documents

COSTLY MISTAKE: Unsealed order reveals contempt fine after Trump Org. failed to turn over documents

COSTLY MISTAKE: Unsealed order reveals contempt fine after Trump Org failed to turn over documents

Donald Trump’s failure to turn over documents when ordered by the government has earned him a heap of trouble — not just in the case of documents he’s accused of improperly removing from the White House and storing at Mar-a-Lago, but in the case where his company was accused of financial crimes as well.

A newly unsealed document has revealed a contempt hearing and charge from a year ago, and while much of the document is redacted, it has reportedly been identified by people close to the case as pertaining to the charges against Trump’s companies.

The total fine is $4,000 — an amount that would be a pittance to the former president, but does show that courts were getting tired of pleading with him to hand over documents as ordered.

The contempt order lists a long series of deadlines and document requests made to the accused, and details the repeated failure to respond to these in a timely and complete manner.

It describes, for instance, the point at which the state agreed to “rolling production” of documents, with three deadlines in November 2020, finally appealing to the court in December 2020 to compel the redacted entity (allegedly the Trump Organization) to comply, which it did, setting new deadlines across January — which the respondent also failed to meet.

Similar details emerge through the following months, with the court still demanding documents as of August 2021 — almost a year after the original deadlines had been set.

This timeline will be familiar to anyone who has watched Trump, over the past eight years, stretch out promises, delay releases, and move goalposts for everything from the tax documents he said he’d release after an audit was over, to the healthcare plan that was perpetually dangled as merely a few weeks away from being released to the public. The New York Times reported:

[T]he contempt order underscores the pitfalls of Mr. Trump’s go-to legal strategy of delaying proceedings and fighting subpoenas whenever possible. It was the second time in less than a year that Mr. Trump or his company was held in contempt for failing to turn over documents, the other instance coming in the New York attorney general’s civil inquiry into the former president’s business practices.

CBS News had previously reported on contempt charges against Trump a few months later, in April of 2022, when he was hit with fines of $10k per day until he came into compliance with one order to turn over documents to New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Now, Trump is in a similar situation with the documents found at Mar-a-Lago, and the other materials the National Archives says are still missing.

He’s dragged this case out interminably, and a recent hearing (although the request was denied by the court) indicated that the Justice Department is interested in contempt of court charges if others are found in his possession.

Stephanie Bazzle
Steph Bazzle is a news writer who covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph. Sign up for all of her stories to be delivered to your inbox here:

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