Back in April, a judge held Donald Trump in contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena from New York attorney general Letitia James, whose office has been investigating Trump and the Trump Organization for fraud, and fined him $10,000 a day until he coughs up the documents James requested. Why hasn’t the former president turned over the files in question, and instead incurred not just the wrath of the judiciary system but $140,000 in penalties thus far? Is it because, after a lifetime of basically getting away with every underhanded, shady, possibly-even-criminal thing he’s ever done, he thinks the rules don’t apply to him? Because he has that little regard for the rule of law? Because he knows the documents in question would make him look really bad? According to Trump, none of the above. No, according to the ex-president, it’s because he can’t find his old cell phones.
In an affidavit filed last week by his attorneys Trump claimed—swore, in fact—that he doesn’t have any of the four phones his company gave to him, which are said to contain the information James is looking for, and has no idea where they are. “I am not currently in possession of any Trump Organization-issued phones, computers or similar devices,” he writes. “I believe the last phone or device I was issued by the Trump Organization was a cell phone in 2015. I no longer have the cell phone in my possession and I am not aware of its current location. Since January 1, 2010, I previously owned two flip phones and a Samsung mobile phone. I do not have the two flips phones in my possession and I do not know their current whereabouts. I took the Samsung with me to the White House and it was taken from me at some point while I was President. I do not have the Samsung in my possession and I do not know its current whereabouts. Currently, I own two personal mobile phones: I have an iPhone which I have owned for several years and is for my personal use. I also have a new phone which I was recently given by Truth Social just last week. I use this phone exclusively for posting on Truth Social and no other purpose. I have never placed or received a call, sent or received a text message, or used this phone in any other manner.”
Elsewhere in he filing, Trump claims that he has turned over his current personal phone and that his lawyers “diligently searched each and every room” of his private residence at Mar-a-Lago and office at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, and coordinated a search of his condo at Trump Tower with Trump Organization attorney Alan Garten, and they simply couldn’t find any of the documents in question. Judge Arthur Engoron rejected a previous attempt by Trump to have the contempt ruling lifted, saying the affidavit filed that time was “completely devoid of any useful detail.” In the most recent affidavit, Trump writes that he does not use email, text, or a computer for work, and “has been my customary practice to not to keep any documents, files, or papers relating to my business activities in my private residences.” Of course, we know that last claim is actually not true, and that he actually took numerous boxes of documents, including some at the top secret level, relating to his presidential work to Mar-a-Lago.
Prior to the contempt ruling being handed down, an attorney for James—who has said she has uncovered “significant evidence” of fraud by the Trump Organization—told the judge it had been “like pulling teeth” to obtain the necessary documents.
In other Trump legal news, on Monday, his former “fixer” Michael Cohen testified for four hours about his claim that his ex-boss ordered security to “get rid” of protesters outside of Trump Tower when he was running for president in 2015. Those protesters subsequently sued the Trump Organization for “wanton and malicious assaults and batteries.” In a deposition under oath he sat for in October, Trump claimed that he was unaware of the incident and didn’t learn about it until the following day (which, according to Cohen, is not true). It was also from that deposition that we learned that the former president is terrified about being killed by a piece of fruit.