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Trump finishes required interview for hush money case

Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s mandatory presentencing interview Monday ended after less than a half-hour of routine questions. The source spoke on condition of anonymity.

The former president was interviewed by a New York City probation officer for a report to be presented to Judge Juan M. Merchan before Trump’s July 11 sentencing in his hush money case. The presentence report will help Merchan decide Trump’s punishment following his May 30 conviction for falsifying business records to cover up a potential scandal. The judge can impose punishments ranging from probation to up to four years in prison.

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Trump, who didn't testify at the trial, appeared for the probation interview via video conference from his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida, with his lawyer Todd Blanche. This arrangement caused complaints of special treatment, but city officials denied this.

Typically, convicted individuals in New York meet with probation officers face-to-face for presentence interviews without their lawyers. After Blanche's objections, Merchan allowed him to join Trump’s interview.

On Monday, public defenders criticized the “special arrangements” for Trump, urging the probation department to ensure fair pre-sentencing opportunities for all. The Legal Aid Society, Bronx Defenders, New York County Defender Services, and Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem stated, “All convicted individuals should have counsel in their probation interview, not just billionaires.”

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The city spokesperson stated that defendants have had the option for video presentencing interviews since before the COVID-19 pandemic. Presentence reports include personal history, criminal record, and sentencing recommendations. They often involve interviews with the defendant’s family and friends, as well as those affected by the crime.

Trump was convicted of 34 counts of falsifying business records, linked to hiding a hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has vowed to appeal his conviction but must wait until after sentencing. He maintains his innocence and claims the case was intended to damage his chances of regaining the White House.


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