NEW YORK — A New York appellate court judge on Tuesday rejected Donald Trump’s bid to halt his $10,000-a-day fine, keeping the former president’s meter running for now as he fights a lower-court decision penalizing him for failing to turn over documents in a state civil investigation.
Judge Tanya Kennedy, of the appellate division of the state’s trial court, denied Trump’s interim application to pause the fine pending his appeal. The court’s full bench will weigh in on Trump’s motion to stay the fine later this month, Kennedy said.
Trump’s attorney Alina Habba requested the stay Monday, a week after Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron fined Trump for failing to comply with a subpoena issued in New York Attorney General Letitia James' probe of his business dealings.
Habba wrote in a court filing that Engoron's ruling was “unconscionable and indefensible.” The judge found that Trump, who is appealing the ruling, and his lawyers had failed to show they conducted a proper search for subpoenaed records.
In asking the appellate court to pause his fine, Trump sought to stop it from accruing while he seeks to overturn Engoron’s ruling — potentially saving him hundreds of thousands of dollars if the appellate court ultimately upholds the contempt finding.
Trump is also appealing Engoron’s Feb. 17 ruling requiring him to answer questions under oath. Oral arguments in that appeal are scheduled for May 11. No arguments have been scheduled in Trump’s contempt challenge.
In a written statement Tuesday, Trump, a Republican, lashed out at James and the state’s court system. He called the attorney general, who is a Black Democrat, “racist,” said the courts were “biased, unyielding, and totally unfair” and claimed to have turned over “millions of pages of documents, perhaps more than any person or entity has ever given before.”
“This is a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in history, and it should not be allowed to continue,” Trump said. “The good news is, I have done nothing wrong!”
A message seeking comment was left with Habba.
James, a Democrat, asked Engoron to hold Trump in contempt after he failed to produce any documents to satisfy a March 31 deadline to meet the terms of the subpoena. She has said her investigation has found evidence that Trump may have misstated the value of assets like skyscrapers and golf courses on financial statements for over a decade.
Habba told Engoron that she met with Trump to ensure he had no records and there were none to be found. On Friday, she submitted additional documents explaining the document search, including an affidavit in which Trump claimed he has no documents. Engoron criticized the affidavit as lacking in detail.
In seeking to halt the fine, Habba said Trump and his representatives had performed a “diligent, thorough and comprehensive search” for everything sought in the subpoena and provided complete and accurate responses to the attorney general. She said the additional submissions last week amounted to “extraordinary efforts to comply.”
“Given these circumstances, it is unconscionable and indefensible for Appellant to be held in contempt in any manner, must less at the inordinate expense of $10,000 per day,” she said.
Associated Press reporter Larry Neumeister contributed to this report.