Judge in Trump's hush money trial delays sentencing following Supreme Court immunity ruling


The judge overseeing Donald Trump‘s New York criminal trial on Tuesday approved a delay of the former president’s sentencing after his lawyers asked for more time to argue that the Supreme Court’s immunity decision calls for a new trial.

The sentencing hearing, previously scheduled for July 11, will now take place on September 18 at the earliest, according to a letter posted on the court’s docket.

The delay guarantees Trump will not be sentenced until after he is formally nominated for president at the Republican National Convention, which begins July 15, and sentencing will happen less than two months before the presidential election.

Trump’s team moved quickly to leverage the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday, sending a letter to Merchan asking to brief him on how it impacts his felony conviction on 34 counts of falsified business records. In a letter Tuesday, prosecutors said they were not opposed to delaying the sentencing hearing, though they signaled they believe the effort to toss the verdict is “without merit.”

The Manhattan jury found Trump guilty of crimes that would normally be misdemeanors but were escalated to felonies in this case. Prosecutors argued he doctored his internal business records while serving in the White House to disguise the fact that as president-elect, he’d ordered his former lawyer Michael Cohen to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

In the letter to the judge Monday, Trump’s team argued that prosecutors wrongly used evidence of his “official acts” at trial, which is now immunized conduct and prohibited under the Supreme Court’s new decision. The justices concluded that while presidents enjoy no immunity for “unofficial” acts that don’t involve core presidential duties, prosecutors cannot use any evidence or testimony concerning official acts to prosecute unofficial conduct.

The crux of the issue for Merchan will now come down to whether some of the evidence, like the testimony of former Trump aide Hope Hicks describing a conservation she had with Trump while he was president, is off limits. If so, a new trial could be required unless the judge finds the error was harmless because Trump would have still been convicted.

Merchan approved the delay in sentencing in a letter Tuesday to both Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, but Trump’s team could face an uphill climb. The judge swiftly dismissed their previous attempt to get the case tossed on immunity grounds. He said would issue a ruling related to the immunity decision on Sept. 6.

Trump faces a range of potential sentences, including prison time, probation and a fine. Bragg, who brought the case against Trump, has not yet indicated what kind of sentence he will seek.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com



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