NY Attorney General Sues Trump’s Longtime Assistant

The New York Attorney General’s office said Monday it had subpoenaed Donald Trump’s longtime executive aide and plans to question her under oath next week as part of the civilian investigation into the former president’s business dealings.

The subpoena for Rhona Graff was disclosed by an attorney for Attorney General Letitia James’ office in court documents opposing Trump’s latest bid to get rid of a contempt of court order for being slow to respond to a subpoena for documents and other evidence.

Graff’s impeachment is scheduled for May 31, special trial attorney Andrew Amer said in the court filing.

Amer said James’ office plans to ask Graff about a number of issues, including Trump’s involvement in the preparation of financial statements that were central to the attorney general’s investigation.

Graff left Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, in April 2021, but was one of several people involved in keeping his records, providing affidavits to Trump’s attorneys late Friday as they tried to have his contempt warrant issued. move in.

Graff, who started working for Trump in 1987, is described as his gatekeeper and right-hand man. Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen wrote in his book that she had her own office in Trump Tower with a large filing cabinet with folders on various issues related to Trump.

Amer said James Graff’s office is seeking to question under oath in part because her affidavit only described the company’s custody and custody practices for some of Trump’s records and failed to detail how his statements about financial condition were handled.

“Did (Trump) ever review the draft statement before signing the final version each year?” Amer wrote, listing questions left unanswered by Graff’s affidavit.

“Has he annotated concepts with comments and/or questions?” continued Amer. “If so, what happened to those drafts? In what form was the final version of the statement submitted to Mr. Trump for approval each year? How did he express his approval? Ms. Graff’s affidavit does not say.”

A message requesting comment was left with a lawyer who has represented Graff in past legal matters.

James, a Democrat, has said her three-year investigation has revealed evidence that the Trump Organization has misrepresented the value of assets such as skyscrapers and golf courses in financial statements for more than a decade.

Trump, a Republican, denies the charges. He called James’ research “racist” and a politically motivated “witch hunt.” James is black. Trump’s lawyers have accused her of selective prosecution.

Trump’s attorneys allege that James is using her civil investigation to access information that could then be used against him in a parallel criminal investigation being conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney, a Democrat.

Trump is also suing James in federal court in an attempt to shut down her investigation.

Judge Arthur Engoron scorned Trump on April 25 and fined him $10,000 a day after the former president failed to submit documents to meet the March 31 deadline to meet the terms of her subpoena.

James’ subpoena sought data related to Trump’s financial statements, development projects, and even communications with Forbes magazine, where he was trying to polish his image as a wealthy businessman.

Engoron agreed on May 11 to lift the injunction if Trump paid $110,000 in fines by Friday and provided affidavits detailing efforts to search for subpoenaed documents and his and his company’s retention policies. of documents.

The judge also required a company hired by Trump to assist in the search, HaystackID, to go through 17 boxes kept in external storage, report his findings and hand over all relevant documents.

That process was completed Thursday, James’s office said.

Engoron stopped accruing the fine on May 6, when Trump’s attorneys submitted 66 pages of court documents detailing his and his attorneys’ efforts to locate the subpoenaed documents. He warned he could restore it, backdated to May 7, if his conditions were not met.

Engoron told Trump to pay the money directly to James’s office and for the attorney general to keep the money in an escrow account, while Trump’s legal team appealed the judge’s original contempt.

Amer wrote in the court filed Monday that while Trump and his attorneys have made progress in meeting Engoron’s conditions for the contempt warrant to end, the sanction should remain in effect until Graff’s impeachment.

Once Graff testifies, Amer said the attorney general’s office will advise Engoron if she has given satisfactory testimony — answering questions not in her affidavit — and whether the contempt warrant against Trump should be lifted.

Engoron has not ruled in the case since his May 11 order setting out his terms for the waiver of the contempt warrant.

In the meantime, Amer said, in order to comply with Engoron’s terms to clarify Trump’s custody practices, his attorneys must provide a detailed affidavit from another Trump executive and an affidavit detailing the efforts being made. they have delivered to contact each of Trump’s 12 former executives. assistants.

Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak

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