A US judge has said he is close to releasing Donald Trump from a contempt finding, but only if the former president meets certain conditions, including paying 110,000 dollars (£90,000) in fines accrued for failing to turn over documents in a state civil investigation.
New York Judge Arthur Engoron said he will conditionally lift Mr Trump’s contempt finding if, by May 20, he submits additional affidavits detailing efforts to search for records and explaining his and his company’s document retention policies; a company he hired to aid the search completes its work; and he pays the fines.
Judge Engoron ruled Mr Trump in contempt on April 25 and fined him 10,000 dollars (£8,000) per day for not complying with a subpoena for documents in New York attorney general Letitia James’s investigation, which is probing whether the ex-president may have mis-stated the value of assets like skyscrapers and golf courses on financial statements for more than a decade.
The total is the fine accrued until May 6, when Mr Trump’s lawyers submitted 66 pages of court documents detailing efforts to locate the subpoenaed records.
Judge Engoron could reinstate the fine if the conditions he set out on Wednesday are not met.
Ms James, a Democrat, asked Judge Engoron to hold Mr Trump in contempt after he failed to produce any documents to satisfy a March 31 deadline to meet the terms of the subpoena.
Trump lawyer Alina Habba said in the May 6 filing that the responses to the subpoena were complete and correct and no relevant documents or information were withheld.
Ms Habba conducted searches of Mr Trump’s offices and private quarters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and his residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, according to the filing, but did not find any relevant documents that had not already been produced.
The filing also detailed searches of other locations including filing cabinets and storage areas at the Trump Organisation’s offices in New York.
In a separate sworn affidavit included with the filing, Mr Trump said there are no relevant documents that have not already been produced.
He added that he owns two mobile phones: one for personal use that he submitted in March to be searched as part of the subpoena, then submitted again in May, and a second one he was recently given that is only used to post on Truth Social, the social media network he started after his ban from Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.
Also on Wednesday, a state appellate court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Mr Trump’s appeal in another subpoena matter: Judge Engoron’s February 17 ruling requiring him to answer questions under oath in Ms James’s investigation.