Trump will charge trial judge Juan Merchan if sentenced to prison | Donald Trump

Donald Trump is determined to avoid prison, but if he is sentenced to prison after his conviction on 34 counts in New York last week, the former president’s entourage is certain he will reject the blame is squarely on the judge, according to close sources. with the said affair.

Precisely how Trump might blame Judge Juan Merchan remains clear, as Trump avoided the issue and the matter was not resolved when he gathered with his top advisers at a Trump Tower meeting immediately after Thursday’s decision, the sources said.

But Trump will likely double down on attacks on Merchan, ordering his supporters at rallies and in Truth Social posts to take their grievances to the judge, one of the sources added.

The consequences of Trump’s likely rhetoric are difficult to predict. Trump has been denouncing Merchan for months as being unfair and conspiring with the Biden administration to prevent him from campaigning — and nothing concrete has happened.

Yet Trump supporters have a history of making threats against judges Trump has helped, including death threats against Tanya Chutkan, the U.S. district judge presiding over his 2020 federal election interference case , and against the chambers of the New York judge who oversaw his case. civil trial for fraud.

Trump believes – rightly – that the final sentencing decision rests with Merchan, who has broad discretion to sentence him to fines or probation in the most serious cases, to a sentence imprisonment in the most severe cases, regardless of what prosecutors might ask for.

This reasoning would allow Trump to hold the judge accountable for any consequences, should he hand down a prison sentence days before the Republican National Convention — even though the sentence would almost certainly be stayed pending appeal.

Trump has already spent weeks attacking Merchan, taking advantage of the fact that the judge himself is not protected by the gag order. Before and during the trial, Trump called the judge’s decisions unfair and biased, and falsely suggested he was trying to prevent her from campaigning.

Just a day after the trial, Trump appeared to open a new front against Merchan in freewheeling remarks at a news conference at Trump Tower, where he suggested that Merchan looked like an “angel” but was in reality the “devil”.

If a prison sentence was imposed, one of the sources said, they expected Trump to lash out in anger. But Trump was also careful not to explicitly threaten or make ominous warnings against Merchan to avoid prison.

On Fox News on Sunday, Trump said the public wouldn’t stand for him to be sent to prison. “I’m not sure the public would accept it. I think it would be difficult for the public to accept. At some point there is a breaking point,” he said, although the campaign quickly clarified that he was talking about the election.

To some extent, Trump was able to put Merchan exactly where he wanted him.

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Trump was indeed convicted of using an illegal hush money scheme to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, meaning that if Merchan sentenced him to anything other than prison, it could trigger backlash because it would not sum up the seriousness of Trump’s criminal conduct. .

But if Merchan does indeed sentence Trump to prison, the judge would be portrayed by Trump as responsible for any fallout and unrest from his supporters who have a history of political violence against the former president who airs grievances.

At sentencing, Merchan will have the additional decision to punish Trump not only for his conviction, but also for his obvious lack of remorse and repeated violations of the silence order, which will be reflected in the pre-trial report. condemnation of Trump.

In New York, defendants convicted of serious felonies or misdemeanors must meet with a probation officer, who conducts a lengthy investigation and writes a pre-sentencing report that the judge uses to determine the sentence.

The pre-sentence report generally constitutes a major opportunity for defendants to make a good impression on the judge, particularly by expressing their contrition. Trump has not suggested any of this since his conviction, including attacking the verdict the next day.

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