US Supreme Court, facade
The southern-facing main facade of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, overlooking Capitol Hill. Photo credit: Matt Popovich / Flickr (CC0 1.0 DEED)

Donald Trump’s sentencing hearing in the New York documents case has been pushed back to September.

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Donald Trump remains a master at escaping accountability. Within hours of Monday’s Supreme Court ruling giving president’s total immunity for official acts, his lawyers asked Judge Juan Merchan whether they could file a motion seeking to overturn Trump’s recent felony conviction on the grounds of that decision. As a result, Merchan announced Tuesday that he would postpone the former president’s sentencing in the case, which had been scheduled for next week, to September.

“[The Supreme Court’s] decision confirmed the defense position that [the District Attorney of New York] should not have been permitted to offer evidence at trial of President Trump’s official acts,” the former president’s lawyers argued in a letter to Merchan.

After both sides will be given time to weigh in on the issue, Merchan is going to rule whether the Supreme Court decision, which gave Trump cover for staging a coup, also applies to the New York case.

It’s hard to see how.

Paying off a porn star for an affair that happened long before he became president and then hiding that hush money by falsifying business records hardly seem like “official acts.” Of course, you never know with this Supreme Court.

However, first Merchan, whom Trump has maligned for months and whose daughter has become a target of the right-wing propaganda machine, will get to rule. And it is good to see that he is crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s because whatever he sentences Trump to will be appealed… especially because this seems like a Hail Mary from the former president’s lawyers since this issue has already been litigated.

Last year, Trump’s legal team wanted to move the case from New York State to a federal jurisdiction, arguing that the allegations that district attorney Alvin Bragg had levied against their boss involved “official acts.”  

They now have until July 10 to state their case. Then, Bragg’s team, which did not object, will have two weeks to respond.

Once Merchan has ruled on the issue, the sentencing hearing originally scheduled for next week will be held on September 18… just six weeks before the election.

Since it seems unlikely that any of Trump’s other three criminal trials — where he faces charges related to his coup attempt, hoarding classified documents, and obstruction of justice — will be concluded (or even start) prior to November, the New York case is the only one in which the former president actually faces accountability.

And, if he wins the election, Trump could then instruct the Department of Justice to stop the two federal cases.

Finally, the Supreme Court’s intervention could also affect the case in Georgia, where the former president is facing charges that he tried to subvert democracy.

In other words, his Supreme Court justices have almost completed their job of shielding Trump from legal trouble.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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