- A Manhattan court battle looms Thursday over two dozen beige, metal file cabinets in Trump Tower.
- New York AG Letitia James’ team will ask a judge to force Trump to comply with subpoenas.
- Trump’s lawyers say the documents James wants to see hold nothing of value to investigators.
Donald Trump’s lawyers will go head-to-head with some of his potential prosecutors on Thursday over their demands that Trump, his daughter Ivanka, and his son Donald Jr. sit for depositions in an ongoing New York state civil probe.
But the two sides will also battle over a vast trove of paperwork the former president has refused to turn over.
According to sources and recent court filings, investigators’ sights are set on two dozen beige, metal file cabinets in the former president’s Trump Tower headquarters on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
The cabinets line a back wall of the skyscraper’s 26th floor, where Trump has his executive offices.
Given the former president’s reportedly heedless way with documents, New York Attorney General Letitia James appears particularly eager to secure their contents.
“They go back decades,” one source told Insider of the 26th floor’s stash.
“That’s just some of it,” said the source, who described potential evidence on condition of anonymity.
Still more Trump Organization file cabinets are located on other floors, the source added; additional files that are no longer active are stored in an off-site facility.
When the two sides face off Thursday morning — during oral arguments to be held via
before a Manhattan Supreme Court judge — Trump will be repped by attorney Ron Fischetti.
Fischetti says he will argue that his client can’t be compelled to testify in James’ civil probe while her criminal investigation remains ongoing.
“She can’t operate as a district attorney and as an attorney general at the same time,” he told Insider.
James announced in May that her office is conducting not only a civil probe, but a criminal one as well, in tandem with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
A civil probe could result in a lawsuit and potential fines; criminal investigators weigh potential charges that could lead to prison time if a defendant is found guilty.
Both the AG and the DA have been looking into possible tax, banking and insurance law violations at The Trump Organization since early 2019, shortly after Trump’s prison-bound former attorney, Michael Cohen, testified before Congress that his boss routinely lied about the value of assets to get loans or tax breaks.
Nearly three years into these probes, only one official connected to The Trump Organization has faced civil or criminal allegations — CFO Allen Weisselberg, charged with dodging income taxes on more than $1.7 million in perks that the DA says should have been reported as pay.
Weisselberg’s trial is scheduled for this summer.
“She can’t wear two hats at the same time,” Fischetti said of James and Thursday’s court battle over the AG’s subpoenas.
He noted that anything Trump said in the AG’s civil deposition could potentially be used against him in the joint AG and DA criminal investigation — and without the immunity that a criminal deposition could offer.
And should Trump sit for the James’ civil deposition anyway, and just plead the Fifth — as have his son Eric and CFO Allen Weisselberg — then that refusal to testify could be used against him in any eventual civil lawsuit.
As for the AG’s document subpoenas, Fischetti said that the Trump Organization has already turned over more than five million pages, an estimate the AG’s office has used in its own filings.
“Everything she’s ever asked for by subpoena she has, except where she’s asked for some things that are so broad it’s just impossible, like every valuation you’ve had on every property for 30 years,” he said of James.
“Trump’s business has been probed by the Manhattan DA and by the AG for three years, and by federal prosecutors for three years before that,” he added.
“And they’re still looking for documents?”
As part of the civil prong of its investigation, the AG issued its first subpoena for Trump’s files — electronic and hard copy — back in the summer of 2020.
The AG says Trump has failed to fully comply with those and subsequent subpoenas.
He has also failed to fully cooperate with an outside document search firm that was court-ordered in September “to identify and produce Donald J. Trump custodial documents,” the AG complained in a Jan. 18 filing.
“The Trump Organization has not made anything approaching a complete production of documents for Mr. Trump,” James wrote then.
“While Mr. Trump famously does not use email or a computer, at least according to reports, he regularly generated handwritten documents,” she wrote.
The AG knows just where those documents are supposed to be thanks to one of Trump’s own executives.
The Trump Organization’s general counsel, Alan Garten, testified under subpoena last summer, telling the AG “that there were file cabinets at the Trump organization containing Mr. Trump’s files,” according to the January 18 filling.
Garten testified that, “Mr. Trump had assistants who maintained files on his behalf, that he received and maintained hard copy documents, and that he used Post-it Notes to communicate with employees,” the filing said.
Since those first subpoenas two summers ago, the AG’s filing continued, The Trump Organization has turned over just three of Trump’s own letters, the filing said.
Otherwise, what James refers to as “the custodial files of Donald J. Trump” have remained resolutely shut.