More documentation problems loom for Trump, this time due to missing evidence at his New York fraud trial

More documentation problems loom for Trump, this time due to missing evidence at his New York fraud trial
Donald Trump, left.  Letitia James, right.

Donald Trump speaks at the NRA convention in Houston, Texas, on May 27, 2022. New York Attorney General Letitia James, right, speaks in Washington, D.C. on November 12, 2019.Left, Brandon Bell/Getty Images. Right, Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

  • This week, New York’s attorney general gave notice that she was set to stand trial for Trump on Oct. 2.

  • Buried in the notice was a threat: It might seek new sanctions against Trump and the Trump Organization for “stolen” of evidence.

  • As one potential penalty, a Trump judge could draw a “negative conclusion” from any documents without leave.

in Mar-a-Lago, It’s the documents kept That got Donald Trump in trouble.

But in New York, the former president now faces the threat of new sanctions over the documents he alleges to fail for reservation.

Buried in a “ready for trial” notice. It was filed this week by New York Attorney General Letitia James Warning: You may be asking the judge in Trump’s fraud trial on Oct. 2 to punish the former president for “taking evidence.”

As defined under New York case law, “prejudgement” is the willful failure to preserve documents or other evidence for pending or reasonably anticipated litigation.

Possible penalties for theft Includes fines and contempt of court. But the discovery of theft can lead to more serious consequences. The judge will be allowed to hold any missing documents against the party who fails to deliver them.

The dreaded “reverse inference” penalty

It’s the dreaded “reverse inference” penalty, something Trump doesn’t want to suffer in this high-stakes trial as he fights a $250 million civil fraud lawsuit seeking to run his company out of New York. At great personal and financial cost.

If the theft is proven, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, in reaching his ruling, could conclude that any evidence the defendants retained from the attorney general would have been detrimental to the defense.

“This would tip the scales in favor of the government,” former New York Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Ford McCallion said of the potential impact of James proving Trump or having co-defendants withhold evidence.

said McCallion, who presides McCallion and associates And is an author Profiles in Cowardice in the Trump Era.

“No one is going to destroy the evidence that is in their favour.”

James’ lawyers may also ask Enguron to draw a similar “negative conclusion” from more than 400 times That Trump called the fifth In an affidavit a year ago, and more than 500 times as many co-defendants in the lawsuit, Eric Trump’s son and former CFO Allen Weisselberg, He also begged the fifth.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general said Trump was more forthcoming while answering questions last April, during the eight-hour deposition in James’ office.

“Discovery complete. However…”

“Discovery in this matter is complete,” Kevin C. Wallace, the lead attorney in the James case, told the judge in this week’s trial-ready notice, noting that each side had now received the entirety of the other’s trial evidence. .

“However, OAG reserves the right to seek post-trial relief with respect to the defendants’ theft of evidence,” Wallace continued. “OAG” is an acronym for Office of the Attorney General.

What remedy may be sought, what documents are missing, and against which of the defendants at trial is not specified in the notice.

But over the past two years, Trump has been the only defendant in the lawsuit repeatedly singled out by the attorney general’s attorney and by Engoron for failing to comply with subpoenas for his personal business documents.

In November, Engoron ordered an independent watchdog to monitor the Trump Organization after the attorney general’s office successfully argued that the company continue to engage in fraud.

documents? What documents?

Among the 900,000 documents the Trump Organization handed to James in response to her memoirs, Only ten came from Trump’s personal files. Despite the fact that he was running a multi-billion dollar real estate and golf resort business.

In some examples, I pulled teeth for documents,Wallace complained during a hearing in April last year.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a $250 million civil fraud lawsuit against Donald Trump and his company with Assistant Attorney General Andrew S.  Aamir, center, and Kevin C Wallace, right.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a $250 million civil fraud lawsuit against Donald Trump and his company with Assistant Attorney General Andrew S. Aamir, center, and Kevin C Wallace, right.Brittini Newman/AP

Faced with any accusation of theft, Trump might argue, as his lawyers did at the time, that he simply had no documents to turn over.

But the last time Trump tried that argument, it was still an enguron Hit him with fines of $110,000 and results in contempt of court.

The contempt order was lifted two months later, after prosecutors received an affidavit from Trump and other key Trump Organization executives swearing that all potential storage locations had been meticulously searched for his personal work documents, but simply were not there.

These are what are called “Jackson’s affidavits.” It could come back to bite Trump in a burglary fight, because acknowledgments that the required documents weren’t misleading — they’re gone.

Trump’s ‘sticky’ position

The attorney general’s attorneys argued that, as the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar real estate company, Trump should have had much, much more than a dozen personal business documents to turn over. After all, Trump’s chief attorney, Alan Garten, said it himself.

Two years ago, Garten testified in response to an AG subpoena that Trump “regularly generates handwritten documents,” James’ office said in a 2022 filing.

Tell the AG office that the boss who He is famous for avoiding computers, emails, and texts. The infamous black Post-it and Sharpie notes are routinely used to mark evaluation drafts and other essential documents.

Garten testified “that there are filing cabinets in the Trump Organization that contain Mr. Trump’s files, that Mr. Trump has aides who maintain files on his behalf, that he received and maintains paper documents, and that he used Post-it Notes to communicate with staff.”

These documents will then be stored in Trump’s “chronological” files, which have been kept in dozens of filing cabinets in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, according to testimony from Trump’s top corporate attorney, according to court filings.

None of these sticky notes, and nothing approaching the contents of the multiple filing cabinets, were ever delivered to the AG’s office in response to the subpoenas for Trump’s personal business records, James’ attorneys complained last year.

Proving “negligence” will not be difficult

Proving intentional depredation and issuing a painful “reverse inference” penalty would require the removal of a high legal bar for James’ attorneys, who would bear the burden of proof.

Penalties are only justified if, according to New York case law, the party responsible for the failure to turn over the evidence intentionally destroyed or concealed that evidence. Just being careless — as in, “Oops, Trump is really bad at record-keeping” — isn’t enough.

The attorney general will have to convince Engoron that sometime after the summer of 2021, when Garten described all of these filing cabinets, the contents of the striped and sticky-note-adorned lockers were either concealed or deliberately destroyed.

Potential defenses include that Trump blame any missing evidence on his company’s haphazard document-keeping habits.

Trump Organization indeed It does not have a specific document retention policyHis longtime executive assistant, Rona Graf, reported to the attorney general’s office in a filing last year.

But if Trump tries, as he did in Jackson’s affidavit last year, to have his aides handle all of his files, Graf’s testimony could run counter to him. Ordinarily, she wouldn’t even read the Trump documents, let alone submit them, attorneys for the attorney general say she told them to.

“I didn’t think it was my position to look inside,” Graf witnessed on manila folders Of the business documents that criss-crossed the former president’s office in Trump Tower all day, in the years before he left for Washington.

range of issues

Regardless of the heavy burden of proof, this week’s filing shows that James’ lawyers are not letting the importance of missing documents down.

“I’ll be honest,” Wallace had told the judge more than a year ago, during the same April 2022 hearing, likening obtaining documents from Trump to “pulling teeth.”

Trump’s attorney, Alina Hababa, had just stated for the umpteenth time that Trump had nothing more to turn around, when Wallace’s tone turned ominous.

“If that’s all there is to it,” he told the judge, “it raises a bunch of other issues.”

A spokesperson for James and Trump’s attorney declined to comment on any potential robbery battle.

At stake for Trump in two months

James’ 200-page lawsuit, In September last year, Trump and his top executives, including his two eldest sons, allegedly routinely overstated or underestimated the value of the company’s assets.

Those valuations have been out in the billions of dollars, cumulatively, over a decade. Trump or his sons signed these bogus accounts into financial documents used to secure hundreds of millions in loans and tax breaks, James alleges.

Ivanka Trump was originally a defendant, but was removed from the case in June, after a state appeals court found James’ allegations against her were too old.

At the October trial, attorneys will ask Engoron to fine him $250 million and allow James to kick the company out of New York by permanently revoking the company’s charter.

If the relief sought by the lawsuit is granted, Trump and his two eldest sons will also be barred from ever running a business in the state again. They will be banned for five years from buying real estate in the state or borrowing from a bank registered in New York.

Trump and his co-defendants in the civil case have denied any fraud, insisting instead that property valuation is complex and subjective. The former president also argued that banks were happy to lend him money over the years, and he made a lot of money doing so.

Trump’s lawyers have said repeatedly that their client looks forward to educating James’ office during the trial about the extraordinary success of his multi-billion dollar company.

Read the original article at Business interested

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