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NY attorney general isn’t satisfied with Trump’s bid to stay out of contempt after deposing longtime assistant

By Kara Scannell, CNN

The New York attorney general’s office says it is not satisfied that former President Donald Trump has met the conditions to lift his civil contempt and is asking for additional sworn statements from several units within the Trump Organization over its document retention policy.

The attorney general’s office requested the new information after taking a deposition of Trump’s longtime assistant Rhona Graff, who resigned from the real estate company in April 2021. Graff said the company didn’t have a document retention policy and when documents were returned to other divisions — such as hotels, golf, accounting or the legal department — it was up to those individual units to decide whether to keep or destroy the records.

“The accounting department had things relevant to [Mr. Trump] there, the hotel department may have had records relevant to him there, the golf division may have had records relevant to him, the legal department. I mean, they retained their own records of communications with him. I did not,” Graff testified, according to a partial copy of her deposition that was submitted in court filings by the attorney general’s office.

The limited portion of the testimony suggested Trump did not like clutter.

The attorney general is now asking the judge to require affidavits from people associated with legal, accounting, hotels and golf to submit the document retention and destruction policies for the individual units, as well as confirmation from the Trump Organization attorneys that their search included any records containing Trump’s handwritten comments or instructions. They request that Trump submit those sworn statements by June 13.

Lawyers for Attorney General Letitia James said Graff’s testimony “cast doubt on the completeness of Mr. Trump’s affidavit,” which stated his practice was to delegate document handling to his executive assistants. Graff said Trump “generally” left it to them but other departments could make their own decisions. The office is investigating the accuracy of financial statements the Trump Organization provided to lenders and insurers and for tax benefits.

“Based on Ms. Graff’s testimony, affidavits from just Mr. Trump’s executive assistants are insufficient to provide OAG with the relevant retention and destruction policies and practices for Mr. Trump’s documents,” they wrote, adding that “it omits the retention and destruction policies and practices followed by the individual departments that would receive potentially relevant documents from him.”

Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said in a letter to the judge on Tuesday that the attorney general’s objections go beyond their agreement of what was necessary to satisfy lifting the contempt order. She also said the document retention policies of “separate, unrelated departments of the Trump Organization” have nothing to do with Trump’s personal document policy.

“The OAG’s letter appears to be little more than a means of further prolonging this dispute,” Habba wrote to the judge.

In April, New York state Judge Arthur Engoron held Trump in civil contempt for failing to comply with a December subpoena for documents.

Attorneys for Trump and the attorney general have been engaged in a back-and-forth over whether Trump has scoured file cabinets, storage rooms and electronic filings to produce records called for by the subpoena. Engoron lifted the contempt order last month if Trump met certain conditions, including wiring $110,000 to an escrow account. The latest filing comes as both sides try to reach a resolution over the subpoena fight.

According to the transcript, Graff said Trump had an inbox and outbox on his desk. She said that if the documents were in a folder she didn’t look inside to see if he had written notes on them.

“If they came in a folder, I didn’t think it was my position to look inside and see what it was unless I was asked to look at it. So the notes could be inside, I guess he made notes himself, and then maybe on the outside he would have said return to so and so, whoever gave it to him,” Graff testified. In response to a question asking “hypothetically” if Trump wrote a note to his former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, relating to Trump’s assets but the notes were missing, Graff said she didn’t have an answer because it wasn’t her job to handle the notes.

Graff said she did not recall ever deleting emails she sent on behalf of Trump.

She said she couldn’t recall a specific instance of Trump keeping copies of documents.

“Again, it’s the old C-word: clutter,” Graff testified.

This story has been updated with response a from Trump’s attorney.

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