Trump Held in Contempt

A judge found former President Trump in contempt for allegedly refusing to comply with a subpoena in a New York civil investigation.

Stephen Webber
Leans Right
Jonathan Good
Leans Left

Trump Held in Contempt. On Monday, a New York judge held former President Trump in contempt of court for failing to comply with subpoenas related to a civil investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office. Judges find people in contempt of court when they disobey a court order. New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, had asked the court to hold Trump in contempt after he failed to produce documents to satisfy a March 31 court-imposed deadline to meet the terms of the subpoena. The judge ordered Trump to pay $10,000 a day until he complies. While Trump’s legal team claimed they conducted a “diligent search and review” for related documents and found Trump did not possess them, the judge’s ruling says that Trump and his attorneys failed to prove they sufficiently searched for the records.

The Civil Investigation. James’ office has been conducting a civil investigation into former President Trump’s business practices for over two years. The Trump Organization faces allegations that it misrepresented property values for over a decade. Last month, James said her team “uncovered significant evidence” that the company did so to gain more favorable financial benefits, “including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.” Trump has criticized the investigation, calling it a politically motivated “witch hunt.” Earlier this year, his legal team unsuccessfully sought to quash the subpoena in question. James claims Trump’s refusal to turn over documents is part of a concerted effort to stonewall her inquiry. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, also a Democrat, is conducting a parallel criminal investigation.

Major Reactions. Following the decision, James tweeted, “Today, justice prevailed,” and that the investigation “will continue undeterred because no one is above the law.” Trump’s legal team, however, claimed the ruling “does not even come close to meeting the standard on a motion for contempt” and vowed to appeal.

Political Moves? During Monday’s hearing, Trump’s lawyers told the judge that Trump did not deserve to be held in contempt, saying the former President was “right on schedule” with turning over documents sought by the Attorney General. In a statement about the investigation earlier this month, Trump said: “The racist and highly partisan Attorney General of New York State, failed Gubernatorial candidate Letitia James, should focus her efforts on saving the State of New York and ending its reputation as a Crime Capital of the World, instead of spending millions of dollars and utilizing a large portion of her office in going after Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization.”

Left Narrative

For years, Trump has obstructed legal proceedings, dragging his feet and ignoring court orders to avoid consequences for his various misdeeds. It is heartening to see this judge hold Trump accountable for this pattern of lawlessness. While Trump and his cronies throw around the tired claims of a “partisan witch hunt,” the walls are closing in on him. Soon, Trump will face punishment for his illegal activity as the many investigations targeting him reach a conclusion.

Left-Lean Narrative

Right-Lean Narrative

Right Narrative

The New York Attorney General and judge are clear political actors who wrongly held President Trump in contempt to create press buzz. The documents in question were not even in possession of President Trump but rather his organization. The politically motivated court case is being used to generate more slander against the President to either muddy the waters of his 2024 run or divert attention away from the failures of the Biden administration.

Questions & Answers

Reading Comprehension

Have your students take a reading comprehension quiz to see how well they understood the article and different opinions.

Launch Activity

Discussion Questions

  1. The judge and New York Attorney General are both Democrats. Does that give you any concern about their impartiality in this case? Why or why not?
  2. Do you believe the $10,000 daily fine will impact Trump? Is there a more impactful course of action?
  3. Is this investigation politically motivated? Explain your view.
  4. Do you believe Trump is deliberately stonewalling the inquiry? Why or why not?
  5. Do you agree with Trump that the Attorney General is wasting her office’s resources by investigating him and his organization?

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Accompanying Content

Trump has always had contempt for courts. A New York judge is ordering him to pay for it.

Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School, claims former President Trump has a pattern of disobeying court orders, equating his recent efforts to a cover-up for financial fraud.

Apr 25, 2022
Fox News
NY judge holds Trump in contempt, issues daily $10K fines until he complies with AG

This article summarizes the court dealings and highlights the views of the New York AG and Trump’s lawyers.

Apr 25, 2022
New York State Attorney General
Memorandum of Law in Support of the Attorney General’s Special Proceeding and Application to Compel Respondents to Comply with Investigatory Subpoenas

This is a court filing by the New York Attorney General Letitia James related to the subpoenas submitted by her office.

Aug 24, 2020
Leans Left

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