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New York's attorney general wants Trump held in contempt for not producing documents

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Donald Trump's lawyers are in court in New York today. They will argue that the former president should not be held in contempt. The state attorney general there says Trump failed to turn over documents in a probe of Trump Organization business practices. NPR's Ilya Marritz reports.

ILYA MARRITZ, BYLINE: It was three years ago that former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen testified before Congress that his old boss routinely misled banks and others about his holdings and his wealth.

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MICHAEL COHEN: It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.

MARRITZ: That caught the interest of a top prosecutor in the state where the Trump Organization is headquartered, New York Attorney General Letitia James. Since then, James has amassed a mountain of documents, gathered testimony from Trump Organization employees and interviewed Trump's son, Eric, who's an executive with the company. In January, she announced a preliminary finding that The Trump Organization, quote, "used fraudulent and misleading asset valuations to obtain economic benefits." But Letitia James hasn't yet decided whether to file charges. She first wants to understand what Trump knew, and she subpoenaed the former president for testimony and documents in his direct possession.

A state judge has upheld that subpoena. But, characteristically, Donald Trump is fighting it. Last month in court, prosecutors said Trump has shared just 10 documents in his possession. They also claim he's stonewalling a third-party discovery firm, which is supposed to expedite document production. Today in court, Attorney General James will ask a judge to impose a penalty on Donald Trump of $10,000 for every day he doesn't cooperate.

Trump's lawyers say he's already fully complied and that there are no more responsive documents to share and that it's well known Trump doesn't use email or computers. But it's also well known that Donald Trump doesn't like paying people. And if the judge approves the contempt motion, the financial penalties could pile up quickly. Throughout this investigation, Donald Trump has maintained he did nothing wrong and says this was all politically motivated.

Ilya Marritz, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ilya Marritz