Judge delays Trump bribery sentencing until at least September after Supreme Court immunity ruling

In a major reprieve from sentencing for former President Donald Trump, his sentencing on bribery-related charges has been delayed until at least September — if ever — as a judge agreed to consider the possible impact of the recent sentence Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity.

Trump was scheduled to be sentenced July 11, just before the Republican nominating convention, for his New York convictions for falsifying business records. He denies any wrongdoing.

The postponement means the earliest a sentencing will occur is September 18 — if it happens at all, as Trump’s lawyers argue the Supreme Court ruling justifies not only postponing sentencing but also overturning the conviction.

“The impact of the immunity ruling sends a loud and clear signal to justice in the United States,” Trump gushed on his social media site Truth after the verdict was delayed.

” READ MORE: Explaining the US Supreme Court’s ruling on presidential immunity and what it means for Trump’s ability to stand trial

Using capital letters, he said the Supreme Court decision brought him a “complete acquittal” in this and other criminal cases he has faced.

Manhattan prosecutors handling the bribery case had no immediate comment on the decision to delay sentencing.

While the Sept. 18 date is well after this year’s Republican National Convention, where Trump is expected to formally accept the party’s nomination for president in this year’s race, it is much closer to Election Day, which could make the issue a priority for voters seriously tuning in to the race. Because of the mail-in voting schedule in some states, some voters may have already cast their ballots before anyone knows whether the former president will have to spend time in jail or under house arrest.

The delay caps a string of political and legal victories for Trump in recent days, including a Supreme Court ruling on immunity and a debate widely perceived as a disaster for Democratic President Joe Biden.

The immunity decision all but closed the door on the possibility that Trump could face trial on 2020 election interference charges in Washington before the November vote. The timeline itself is a victory for the former president, who had sought to delay his four criminal cases beyond the vote.

Some The court of appeal recently stayed the proceedings a separate election interference case against Trump in Georgia; no trial date has been set. His federal classified documents case in Florida remains mired in pretrial disputes that have led to an indefinite cancellation of the trial date.

Monday’s Supreme Court decision granted presidents broad immunity protections while barring prosecutors from citing any official actions as evidence in trying to prove that the president’s unofficial actions violated the law.

The Supreme Court ruled that former presidents are absolutely immune from prosecution for actions that fall within their core constitutional duties, such as interacting with the Justice Department, and at least presumptively immune from prosecution for all other official actions. The justices left intact the long-standing principle that there is no immunity for purely personal actions.

It is unclear how this decision will impact the silence in New York.

His basis included accusations that Trump, before he became president, participated in a conspiracy to suppress sex stories that he feared would damage his 2016 campaign. But the actual allegations involved payments made in 2017 to his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, who paid hush money on Trump’s behalf. Trump was president when he signed the relevant checks to Cohen.

Before the trial, Trump’s lawyers unsuccessfully sought to exclude certain evidence they said concerned official actions, including social media posts he made while president.

New York Judge Juan M. Merchan said in April that “I’m going to have a hard time convincing people that something he voluntarily tweeted to millions of people can’t be used in court when it’s not presented as a crime. It’s just used as an act, something he did.”

When Trump unsuccessfully sought to have the silence case moved from state court to federal court last year, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein dismissed former president’s claim that the charges contained in the bribery indictment concerned official duties.

“The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that this was a purely personal matter for the president — an attempt to cover up an embarrassing incident,” Hellerstein wrote last year.

Hours after Monday’s Supreme Court ruling, Trump’s lawyer required that Merchan overturned the jury’s conviction and adjourned sentencing to consider how the higher court’s ruling would affect the bribery case.

Merchan wrote that he will issue a ruling on September 6, with the next date in the case being September 18, “if it continues to be necessary.”

In a defense brief filed Monday, Trump’s lawyers argued that Manhattan prosecutors “made a very biased reliance on evidence from the record,” including Trump’s social media posts and witness testimony about meetings in the Oval Office.

Prosecutors responded that they considered the arguments “baseless” but would not oppose postponing the verdict for two weeks so the judge could consider the case.

Trump was convicted May 30 on 34 counts of falsifying business records in what prosecutors say was an attempt to conceal a $130,000 bribe paid to porn actor Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

Daniels alleges she had sexual contact with Trump in 2006 after meeting him at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. Trump has repeatedly denied the allegation, saying during a June 27 debate with Biden, “I did not have sex with a porn star.”

Prosecutors said Daniels’ payment was part of a broader scheme to buy the silence of people who might have come forward publicly during the campaign with embarrassing stories about Trump’s alleged extramarital sex, all of which Trump has said were false.

Cohen paid Daniels and later received a refund from Trump, whose company booked the refunds as legal fees.

Trump’s defense argued that the payments were indeed for legal work and were properly classified.

Falsifying business records is punishable by up to four years in prison. Other potential sentences include probation, a fine or parole, which would require Trump to stay out of trouble to avoid additional punishment. Trump is the first former president to be convicted of a crime.

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