Court Battles

Real estate giant held in contempt in Trump Organization investigation

A federal judge has held a real estate giant in contempt over its refusal to cooperate with the New York attorney general’s investigation into the Trump Organization. 

Judge Arthur Engoron on the New York County State Supreme Court issued a ruling on Tuesday that Cushman & Wakefield, which has done work for the Trump Organization, must pay $10,000 for each day it refuses to comply with a subpoena from New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), starting Thursday. 

James has been investigating whether former President Trump inflated the Trump Organization’s property values for investors and deflated them for federal tax documents. 

Engoron had previously held Trump in civil contempt for being slow to respond to a subpoena, fining him $10,000 a day for two months until the contempt order was lifted last week. 

Trump and his two oldest children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, are set to testify in James’s investigation starting July 15 after legal challenges to fight her subpoenas failed. 

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) issued subpoenas to Cushman & Wakefield last September and again in February, according to Engoron’s ruling. Cushman & Wakefield partially responded to the subpoenas in March and notified the OAG that it would not comply further. 

The company repeatedly sought to appeal the subpoenas and delay the deadline for it to comply, most recently last Wednesday, two days after the final deadline for compliance. It filed a letter on Tuesday stating that it has done its best to comply with the subpoenas under “difficult circumstances.” 

Engoron ruled that the company’s latest request for additional time came too late, but he also said it would have been denied regardless because the court had already rejected its attempt to quash the subpoena. 

James said in a release that the ruling is a victory for her office. 

“Cushman & Wakefield’s work for Donald Trump and the Trump Organization is clearly relevant to our investigation, and we’re pleased that the court has recognized that and taken action to force Cushman to comply with our subpoenas,” James said. “No person or company, no matter how powerful, is above the law.” 

She said the services the firm provided to the Trump Organization included appraisals and brokerage services for its properties. 

A Cushman & Wakefield spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill that the ruling demonstrates a “failure to understand the extreme lengths” the company has gone to in order to comply with the subpoena. 

“Cushman disagrees with any suggestion that the firm has not exercised diligence and good faith in complying with the Court’s order, and we will be appealing this decision,” the statement reads. 

The spokesperson said the company had worked to identify, collect, review and produce the “massive” set of documents that OAG has requested, and had produced hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and more than 650 appraisals since the last subpoena the OAG issued in February.

Tags Arthur Engoron Cushman & Wakefield Donald Trump Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr. Ivanka Trump Letitia James Letitia James New York attorney General Subpoena Trump Organization
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