A Manhattan judge on Wednesday lifted a costly contempt-of-court order that had threatened Donald Trump with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for failing to fully comply with a New York investigation into his hotel and golf resort business.
Trump has been held in contempt since April, when New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron found the former president had failed to turn over personal business documents subpoenaed by New York Attorney General Letitia James or, alternately, to explain why so few documents had been turned over.
The contempt finding came with a $10,000-a-day fine that rose to $110,000 before the judge stopped the clock in early May.
Had Trump’s lawyers not turned over a set of executive affidavits explaining how Trump’s documents were or were not preserved earlier this month, the fine could have been re-instated retroactively, potentially costing the former president some $300,000 more.
“It is hereby ordered that the contempt of respondent Donald J. Trump is purged,” Engoron wrote in Wednesday’s decision.
The lifting of the contempt order amounts to a brief truce between the former president and James, who has been probing allegations of financial wrongdoing at the Trump Organization for three years.
For Trump, it not only means that his contempt fines won’t get any higher, but also that what his lawyers have described as the unrealistic ordeal of complying with the AG’s document subpoenas is over.
On James’ side, it signals she has given up on getting any more than the 10 “custodial” files from Trump that have been turned over to her office, just a fraction of some 900,000 files turned over by the Trump Organization as a whole.
She still gets to keep the $110,000 check that Trump cut to her office; it remains in escrow while Trump appeals the contempt order.
The probe is winding down, James’ lawyers have said, with one remaining investigative effort still…