Trump questions NY guilty verdicts after U.S. Supreme Court presidential immunity ruling

Republished from Kentucky Lantern


WASHINGTON — The criminal sentencing of former President Donald Trump in the New York hush money case will likely be delayed while the judge reviews Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court’s presidential immunity ruling, according to multiple media reports.

New York Justice Juan Merchan, who oversaw the case, is expected to review whether or how the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling weighs on the sentencing, according to reports in the New York Times and Associated Press that cite court filings.

Trump claims his 34 New York felony guilty verdicts violate Monday’s Supreme Court ruling and should be thrown out, according to a letter provided to States Newsroom by Trump attorney Todd Blanche.

“The verdicts in this case violate the presidential immunity doctrine and create grave risks of ‘an Executive Branch that cannibalizes itself,’” Blanche wrote, adding that after further review, “it will be manifest that the trial result cannot stand.”

New York state court records are not immediately available online.

A Manhattan jury on May 30 found the former president guilty on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to a hush money payment made to a porn star in the weeks prior to the 2016 presidential election.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg reportedly agreed in a letter to Merchan to a two-week delay in Trump’s sentencing, according to media reports.

Merhan scheduled the sentencing for July 11, just days before Trump is scheduled to be officially nominated as his party’s 2024 presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. A two-week delay would push the sentencing until after the nomination.

An official delay order had not been posted as of Tuesday afternoon on the New York courts webpage where orders related to the case are published.

Presidential immunity opinion

The Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that former U.S. presidents enjoy absolute criminal immunity for “core Constitutional” powers and are “entitled to at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for all his official acts,” but are not immune from criminal prosecution for “unofficial acts.”

Trump escalated the question of presidential immunity to the Supreme Court after two lower courts denied his requests for immunity from federal criminal charges alleging he attempted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results during his last months in the Oval Office.

The justices’ majority opinion ordered the 2020 election interference case back to the lower district court to decide whether Trump’s actions were official or unofficial acts. Those actions include Trump’s conversations with state officials about overturning election results and his social media posts claiming election fraud.

New York verdict 

Blanche asked Merchan to “set aside” Trump’s guilty verdict based on Monday’s Supreme Court ruling in Trump v. United States, according to the July 1 letter.

Blanche claimed that evidence presented by the prosecution against Trump during the New York case were likely “official acts.”

The New York state case centered on actions Trump took during his first year in office, including an Oval Office meeting to discuss financial transactions with his former personal attorney and checks that he personally signed.

“Under (Trump v. U.S.), this official-acts evidence should never have been put before the jury,” Blanche wrote.

“Moreover, as we argued previously, (Trump v. U.S.) forbids the ‘[u]se of evidence about such [official] conduct, even when an indictment alleges only unofficial conduct.’ This includes President Trump’s ‘Tweets’ and ‘public address[es],’” Blanche wrote, quoting directly from the Supreme Court opinion.

New York prosecutors presented mounds of evidence, including business records and witness testimony, during the seven-week trial illustrating that Trump repaid his former lawyer Michael Cohen for giving $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election. Trump later recorded the payments as “legal expenses” and increased the amount to Cohen to account for taxes and a bonus.

Testimony also revealed an Oval Office meeting Trump held with Cohen to discuss the repayment scheme, and evidence included nine checks bearing Trump’s personal signature.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

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