Judge delays Trump’s hush money sentencing until at least September after high court immunity ruling (2024)

Former President Donald Trump’s sentencing in his hush money case was postponed until at least September as the judge agreed Tuesday to weigh the possible impact of a new Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity.

The delay is a major reprieve for Trump, who had been scheduled to face sentencing July 11 on his New York conviction on felony charges of falsifying business records. He denies any wrongdoing.

The postponement sets the sentencing for Sept. 18 at the earliest — if it happens at all, since Trump’s lawyers are arguing that the Supreme Court ruling merits not only delaying the sentencing but tossing out his conviction.

“The impact of the Immunity Ruling is a loud and clear signal for Justice in the United States,” Trump crowed on his Truth Social media site after the sentencing was delayed.

Using all capital letters, he claimed the Supreme Court’s decision netted him “total exoneration” in this and other criminal cases he faces.

There was no immediate comment on the sentencing postponement from Manhattan prosecutors, who brought the hush money case.

The Sept. 18 date is well after this month’s Republican National Convention, where Trump is set formally to accept the party’s nomination for president in this year’s race.

September, however, is far closer to Election Day, which could put the issue top-of-mind for voters just as they seriously tune into the race. Because of absentee voting timelines in certain states, some voters may already have cast ballots before anyone knows whether the former president will have to spend time in jail or on home confinement.

The delay caps a string of political and legal wins for Trump in recent days, including the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling and a debate widely seen as a disaster for Democratic President Joe Biden.

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

An appeals court recently paused a separate election interference case against Trump, in Georgia; no trial date has been set. His federal classified documents case in Florida remains bogged down by pretrial disputes that have resulted in an indefinite cancelation of the trial date.

Monday’s Supreme Court ruling granted broad immunity protections to presidents, while also restricting prosecutors from citing any official acts as evidence in trying to prove a president’s unofficial actions violated the law.

The high court held 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 for all other official acts. The justices left intact the longstanding principle that no immunity exists for purely personal acts.

It’s not clear how the decision will affect the New York hush money case.

Its underpinnings involved allegations that a pre-presidency Trump participated in a scheme to stifle sex stories that he feared would be damaging to his 2016 campaign. But the actual charges had to do with payments made in 2017 to his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, who had shelled out hush money on Trump’s behalf. Trump was president when he signed relevant checks to Cohen.

Trump’s lawyers sought unsuccessfully before the trial to keep out certain evidence that they said concerned official acts, including social media posts he made as president. They may face a similar uphill climb in trying to argue now that the Supreme Court ruling warrants tossing out the New York conviction.

When Trump vied unsuccessfully last year to get the hush-money case moved from state court to federal court, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein rejected the former president’s claim that allegations in the hush money indictment involved official duties.

“The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the matter was a purely personal item of the president — a cover-up of an embarrassing event,” Hellerstein wrote last year.

Hours after Monday’s Supreme Court ruling, Trump’s attorney requested that New York Judge Juan M. Merchan set aside the jury’s guilty verdict and delay the sentencing to consider how the high court’s ruling could affect the hush money case.

Merchan wrote that he’ll rule Sept. 6, and the next date in the case would be Sept. 18, “if such is still necessary.”

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Judge delays Trump’s hush money sentencing until at least September after high court immunity ruling (2024)

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