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Trump’s sentencing in hush money case delayed till Sept 18

NEW YORK: Donald Trump’s sentencing for his conviction on criminal charges related to hush money paid to a porn star was delayed on Tuesday until September 18, less than seven weeks before the US election.

Justice Juan Merchan postponed the sentencing date to consider Trump’s argument that he should have been immune from prosecution under Monday’s landmark Supreme Court ruling, which stated that presidents cannot be criminally prosecuted for official acts.

This new timeline means Merchan could decide the Republican presidential candidate’s punishment, including whether to jail him, right in the midst of the campaign season before the November 5 election.

Originally, the sentencing was scheduled for July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, which starts on July 15.

Trump faces significant challenges in getting the hush money conviction overturned, as much of the conduct in question predates his presidency.

On Monday, Trump’s lawyers asked Merchan to let them argue that his conviction should be overturned based on the Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling on July 1. The ruling also held that evidence related to presidents’ official actions cannot be used in criminal cases involving unofficial actions.

Prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office stated on Tuesday that Trump’s argument was “without merit” but agreed to delay the sentencing to give Trump the opportunity to present his case.

On May 30, a Manhattan jury found Trump guilty of falsifying business records to cover up his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter until after the 2016 election, in which Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Prosecutors said the payment was part of an illicit scheme to influence the election.

Trump denies having had sex with Daniels and has vowed to appeal the conviction after his sentencing.

‘A purely personal item’

In their letter to Merchan, defense lawyers argued that prosecutors had presented evidence involving Trump’s official acts as president, including social media posts and conversations he had while in the White House.

“This official-acts evidence should never have been put before the jury,” lawyers Todd Blanche and Emil Bove wrote.

Last year, Trump made a similar argument in an unsuccessful attempt to move the hush money case to federal court. In denying Trump’s request in July 2023, US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein wrote that the payment to Daniels “was a purely personal item.”

“Hush money paid to an adult film star is not related to a president’s official acts,” Hellerstein wrote.

Trump’s lawyers appealed Hellerstein’s decision but later abandoned the effort.

In his written ruling, Merchan stated he would rule on Trump’s request to set aside the jury’s verdict by September 6, with sentencing to follow less than two weeks later if the judge upholds the conviction. Trump’s lawyers must submit their arguments by July 10, and prosecutors have until July 24 to respond.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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