The ruling can be seen as a victory for James, who launched her probe into the Trump Organization more than three years ago and has alleged a pattern of misleading or fraudulent representation of Trump’s assets in his annual financial statements. And later Monday, James saw a second legal win, when Engoron ruled that Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate company, must comply with subpoenas “related to its real estate work” for the company and is required to present the documents to the attorney general’s office by May 27.
“For the second time today, a judge has made clear that no one is above the law,” James said in a statement. “Cushman & Wakefield’s work for Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization is clearly relevant to our investigation, and we are pleased that has now been confirmed by the court. Our investigation will continue undeterred.”
The former president has been in an ongoing legal battle with James over the investigation, which he deems a partisan “witch hunt.” Alina Habba, his lawyer, has argued that the contempt motion is “misleading” and said during Monday’s hearing that lawyers conducted a thorough search for additional documents to fulfill the requests. She said that Trump was an “honest person” and that all relevant material had been produced.
The judge ultimately decided that there was not sufficient detail about the search efforts. He said an earlier statement from Trump’s lawyers failed to answer the “what, who, where, when and how any search was conducted.”
Habba said she planned to appeal Monday’s ruling.
James’ civil investigation has gained significance in recent weeks after lead prosecutors on a parallel criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office resigned. The New York Times reported in March that the exiting prosecutors felt Trump should be charged for criminal behavior, but that District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who took office in January, was not yet convinced. Bragg has declared that his investigation remains active and ongoing, while James’ office has not decided whether the evidence collected thus far warrants legal action.
The Trump family has continuously pushed back against the attorney general’s investigation. James has also sought testimony from Trump and two of his children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., but the family’s lawyers are trying to bar the questioning. James did question Eric Trump, another one of Trump’s sons, in 2020, as part of her probe.
Engoron ruled in February that Trump and his children must comply with the requests for questioning, but the Trumps also appealed that decision.