Trump met with probation officer on video call in hush money case

Former President Donald Trump met with his probation officer via video conference Monday, a routine step following the secret Manhattan trial verdict that found him guilty of 34 counts.

The interview with the New York City Probation Department was “uneventful and lasted less than thirty minutes,” according to a person familiar with the proceedings who spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the matter. the private meeting.

Trump received special dispensation to hold the meeting virtually and was in Palm Beach, Florida. He was also allowed to have one of his lawyers appear alongside him, an exception granted to him by Judge Juan Merchan, who oversaw the trial.

The Trump campaign did not respond for further comment on the call.

The interview is a routine step for defendants after a guilty verdict. The Probation Department – ​​located on the 10th floor of the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse – prepares presentencing reports for judges and is responsible for interviewing convicted felons on topics such as their personal history, mental health and circumstances that led to the conviction.

Trump, who is now a criminal, has promised to appeal the verdict. He still had to undergo this interview before sentencing, scheduled for July 11.

The former president was convicted in late May of charges related to $130,000 payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election to silence her about a sexual relationship that she claimed to have had. His conviction does not prevent him from running for president.

Some legal experts told the Washington Post that it was unlikely that Trump, 77, would be incarcerated. It will be Merchan who decides whether Trump faces prison time. His decision will be informed by comments from the prosecution and the defense. Alternative sanctions for Trump include probation or home confinement.

Trump’s lawyers are expected to file a presenting brief by Thursday. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, has until June 27 to file its recommendation. A probation officer’s report is generally not a public document, but some aspects of it could become public in court.

Legal groups and public defenders complained that the fact that his lawyer was allowed to attend the meeting and that he was allowed to meet virtually with the probation office amounted to special treatment.

In a statement, a group of public defenders, including the Legal Aid Society and the Bronx Defenders, said the exceptions made for Trump “are generally not granted to low-income defendants.”

“All people convicted of crimes should have the right to an attorney during their probation interview, not just billionaires,” the groups said in the statement. “This is just another example of our two-tiered justice system. Presentation of interviews with probation officers influences sentencing, and public defenders are deprived of the opportunity to join their clients for these meetings. The opportunity to participate virtually in these interviews is also generally not available to the people we represent.

Speaking on behalf of the city, Ivette Dávila-Richards, said virtual interviews have been available to defendants since the start of the pandemic.

“[Trump] is treated like any other defendant,” Dávila-Richards said.

Marianne LeVine and David Nakamura contributed reporting.

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