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Trump probation interview set for Monday after hush money conviction, NBC News reports

Former US President Trump was found guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records during his trial in Manhattan Criminal Court on May 30, 2024 in New York City.

Steven Hirsch | Via Reuters

Former President Trump is scheduled to appear for a virtual interview Monday with a New York City probation officer from his home in Mar-a-Lago with his attorney Todd Blanche at his side after he was found guilty of all charges in hush money trial. against him last month, three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, was convicted last month of all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the landmark case. The court requires the probation interview as part of the former president’s pre-sentence report.

Judge Juan Merchán, who is presiding over the hush money case, allowed Blanche to be present at the parole interview via video call after prosecutors did not object. Trump’s defense team is scheduled to present its sentencing recommendation on June 13.

The former president is scheduled to be sentenced on all 34 felony counts in New York on July 11, days before the Republican National Convention begins.

Some legal experts noted that conducting a parole interview via video conference is unusual, but having the former president on parole in New York would also be unprecedented.

Martin Horn, former commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections and Probation, told NBC News that “it is very unusual for a pre-sentence investigative interview to be conducted over Zoom,” but acknowledged that a visit Trump’s in-person visit to the probation office would be “very disturbing.”

“But it can be argued that Trump’s appearance in the probation office on the 10th floor of the Criminal Court building in Manhattan, where his trial took place, with the Secret Service and the press following him, would be very damaging to the probation office. and unfair parole for other defendants who may not want to be identified,” he said. “So in the end this might be better for the probation officer.”

Horn noted that the typical purpose of a parole interview is to obtain information about Trump’s social and criminal history, his financial resources, his history of mental health, physical or addiction problems, as well as to evaluate his living situation.

Trump could also be asked if he is associating with someone with a criminal record because he cannot associate with them if he is placed on parole, Horn said. The probation officer may also want to interview other people at Trump’s home afterward. Although agents typically complete their inquiries in a single session, follow-up interviews may occur. The probation officer will then write a report and give it to Merchan.

The former president faces from probation to four years in prison. Some legal experts have argued that Trump is unlikely to face prison because of his age, lack of criminal record and other factors.

Duncan Levin, a former Manhattan prosecutor turned defense attorney, said prosecutors are likely to seek prison time.

Blanche, Trump’s lawyer, will be present to ensure that no questions put her client in legal jeopardy, Levin said. While the hearing may seem like an unnecessary step given that Trump is one of the most scrutinized public figures, it is the court’s way of judging who he is beyond what came to light during the trial.

“It’s unlikely that the situation will change because the judge knows a lot about his background,” Levin said, referring to the parole hearing.

Levin also pointed to Merchan’s gag order against Trump after he attacked members of his family and the previous prison sentence of Michael Cohen, the self-described former Trump fixer who served as the prosecution’s star witness, on a series of charges. federal officials, including lying to Congress. .

“To the extent that an E felony is punishable by jail time, this case cries out for jail time, he has shown no remorse and has been found guilty of contempt 10 times, but the judge warned him that if he violates the order of silence, I’ll send him to jail and then he did it again several times,” Levin said. “And subverting the election process is the most serious records violation to ever reach New York courts.”

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