Donald Trump completes mandatory presentencing interview after less than 30 minutes of questioning

NEW YORK — Donald Trump completed his mandatory presentencing interview Monday after less than 30 minutes of routine, uneventful questions and answers, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and did so on condition of anonymity.

The former president was quizzed by a New York City probation officer for a report, required by law, that trial judge Juan M. Merchan can use to help determine Trump’s punishment when he is sentenced July 11 in his hush money criminal case.

Monday’s interview was conducted privately by video conferencing. Under state law, the resulting report — which may also include information about Trump’s conviction, his social, family and employment history, and his education and economic status — will remain confidential unless the judge authorizes its public release.

Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors will be provided copies, but that doesn’t typically happen until just before sentencing. Both sides can also submit their own paperwork to Merchan making the case for how they feel Trump should be punished.

Merchan has discretion to impose a wide range of punishments following Trump’s May 30 conviction for falsifying business records to cover up a potential sex scandal, ranging from probation and fines to up to four years in prison.

After declining to testify at the trial, Trump was required by law to participate in Monday’s presentencing interview — doing so by video from his residence at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, with his lawyer Todd Blanche by his side.

The arrangement garnered complaints of special treatment for a famous defendant, but city officials contended that was not the case and said such accommodations are available to anyone subject to a presentencing interview.

Typically, people convicted of crimes in New York meet with probation officials face-to-face for their required presentence interviews and aren’t allowed to have lawyers with them. After Blanche balked about Trump being made to answer questions alone, Merchan granted the defense lawyer permission to sit in on Trump’s interview.

The city’s public defenders on Monday criticized what they said were “special arrangements” for Trump and urged the probation department to “ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of income, status, or class, receive the same pre-sentencing opportunities.”

“All people convicted of crimes should be allowed counsel in their probation interview, not just billionaires,” four of the city’s public defender organizations said in a statement. “This is just another example of our two-tiered system of justice.”

“Pre-sentencing interviews with probation officers influence sentencing, and public defenders are deprived of joining their clients for these meetings. The option of joining these interviews virtually is typically not extended to the people we represent either,” said the statement from the Legal Aid Society, Bronx Defenders, New York County Defender Services and Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem.

A spokesperson for the city, which runs the probation department, said defendants have had the option of conducting their presentencing interviews by video since before the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. Ivette Dávila-Richards, a deputy press secretary for Mayor …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Politics


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