Immunity Ruling Throws Wrench Into Trump NY Sentencing


Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Since his legal troubles began, Donald Trump and his group of attorneys have used every potential avenue to delay or throw out the many civil and criminal cases against him. This week, they had a new weapon at their disposal: the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Monday, Trump’s legal team sent a letter to Juan Merchan, the judge presiding over the hush-money case, seeking to overturn his conviction in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s seismic decision on presidential immunity. The Associated Press reports that they’re asking Merchan to delay his July 11 sentencing hearing and to consider the impact of the Court’s ruling on the state-level case.

The Manhattan attorney general indicated Tuesday that it won’t oppose Trump’s motion, which makes it increasingly likely that the scheduled hearing will be delayed by at least two weeks to allow for motions, meaning that Trump will get to avoid being convicted before the Republican National Convention that’s scheduled to begin on July 15. In May, a Manhattan jury found Trump guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection to payments made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence over an alleged affair.

The nation’s highest court officially ruled Monday that a current or former president could not be prosecuted for official acts of the office, though they are potentially liable for unofficial acts. Trump had challenged his indictment by the federal government in its 2020 election-subversion case by arguing that he had absolute immunity in the case given that he was serving as president at the time.

Will Scharf, one of Trump’s lawyers on the immunity case, told CNN that Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s team used a “substantial number of official acts of the presidency” as evidence in the hush-money case, which “corrupts that trial.” He cited posts from the official Twitter account Trump used during his tenure as president as well as messages sent through official White House channels. “At the very least, we deserve a new trial where those immune acts will not come into evidence, as the Supreme Court dictated today,” he said in the interview.

Though he might succeed in delaying his sentencing, Trump’s last-minute push isn’t expected to toss his conviction entirely. The request comes after the June deadline for filing post-trial motions, per the New York Times. Also, the specific details of this particular case, which concerns the paying of hush money to Daniels to prevent news of an affair from going public, might not qualify as an official act under the Supreme Court’s decision.

The issue was raised by a federal judge last year in a ruling rejecting Trump’s attempt to move the case out of New York State court into federal court. “The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the matter was purely a personal item of the President — a cover-up of an embarrassing event,” United States district judge Alvin Hellerstein wrote in July 2023. “Hush money paid to an adult film star is not related to a President’s official acts. It does not reflect in any way the color of the President’s official duties.”

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