Trump Pushes to Set Aside Hush Money Conviction After Immunity Ruling

The judge in Donald Trump’s hush money case last Tuesday postponed sentencing until at least September after agreeing to consider the possible impact the Supreme Court’s decision on presidential immunity may have on the case.

Judge Juan Merchan was set to sentence Trump on July 11 after the jury convicted the former president in late May on all 34 counts.

However, after the high court’s July 1 decision that denied Trump “absolute immunity” but confirmed that former presidents could not be prosecuted for “official acts,” Trump’s attorneys filed a motion asking Judge Merchan to set aside the conviction and delay sentencing so the judge could determine how the Supreme Court decision may influence the case.

The defense argued that the immunity decision confirmed a previous position the defense raised in the case that prosecutors should not have introduced evidence that constituted official acts of the president.

The attorneys cited the defense’s March 7 pretrial motion which asked Judge Merchan to bar specific evidence and testimony, primarily Trump’s public statements and social media posts while in office that the defense claimed were part of the then-president’s official acts.

Defense attorneys Todd Blanche and Emil Bove wrote in their request that the verdicts in the hush money case violated “the presidential immunity doctrine” and presented the risk of “an Executive Branch that cannibalizes itself.”

Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office told the judge that while they did not believe the defense’s arguments had merit, they did not oppose postponing sentencing until the issue was resolved. Prosecutors requested that the court give them until July 24 to respond to Trump’s motion.

In a brief decision on July 2, Judge Merchan approved the prosecution’s request and said he would rule on Trump’s motion on September 6. He tentatively scheduled a new sentencing date for September 18 “if such is still necessary.”

The postponement was a win for the 2024 Republican presidential candidate who would have gone to the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee a convicted and sentenced felon.