By Karen Freifeld and Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York judge expressed surprise on Friday that Donald Trump, a man he described as perhaps the world’s most famous real estate developer, failed to provide any documents requested in an investigation by the Trump Organization, his family’s business. .

Judge Arthur Engoron in New York state court in Manhattan said in a virtual hearing that he would hold the former US president in contempt of court and fine him $10,000 a day despite Trump’s lawyer’s request to lift both orders.

“This is Donald Trump, possibly the most famous real estate developer in the world,” the judge said. “I’m surprised he doesn’t seem to have any documents; they’re all in the organization.”

On Monday, Engoron issued the warrants for Trump’s failure to subpoena documents from New York Attorney General Letitia James. On Wednesday, Trump signed an affidavit in which he said that he did not believe he had any relevant documents and that, if there were, the Trump Organization would have them.

On Friday, Engoron, who read Trump’s affidavit at the hearing, said the document had “his inimitable signature” in what appeared to be a Sharpie. But he said he lacked useful details about where Trump kept his records.

To purge the contempt finding, Trump would have to submit an affidavit swearing where his files were located, how they were stored and who had access to them, as well as declaring whether he turned over his personal electronic devices for searching and images, the judge later said. in a written order.

In the hearing, Engoron zeroed in on the small pieces of paper with a sticky strip on one side that Trump is known to use. “He is famous for post-its,” the judge said. “When he wants something done, he puts a post-it on something. I don’t think we’ve gotten any post-its.”

Trump Organization General Counsel Alan Garten testified as part of the attorney general’s investigation that Trump used sticky notes to communicate with employees, court records show.

But Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, said Trump doesn’t have any post-its.

“You can fine us for 10 months, but you won’t get any more documents from Donald Trump,” Habba said. “He doesn’t have the documents you want.”

James says his investigation has already found evidence that the Trump Organization, which manages hotels, golf courses and other real estate around the world, has provided banks and tax authorities with misleading financial information in order to obtain financial benefits such as favorable loans. and tax exemptions. .

Engoron said it would consider Habba’s request to cancel the fine. “But if you don’t hear from me, time is running out,” he said.

Trump, a Republican, denies any wrongdoing and says the investigation is politically motivated. James is a Democrat. Habba said Friday that he would continue to appeal both the contempt order and the fine following Engoron’s oral ruling.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Howard Goller and Daniel Wallis)

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