Trump seeks to set aside hush money verdict after immunity ruling: source


Former President Trump on Monday asked his hush money judge to set aside the recent guilty verdict after the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The Supreme Court provided former presidents with a broad shield against criminal prosecution, ruling 6-3 along ideological lines that they enjoy absolute criminal immunity for core constitutional powers and a presumption of immunity for all other official acts.

Following the ruling, Trump’s lawyers on Monday filed a letter with New York Judge Juan Merchan seeking to set aside the jury’s recent guilty verdict, contending the prosecution at trial introduced evidence that is protected under the Supreme Court’s new test, the person said. 

The letter also asks to delay Trump’s July 11 sentencing, according to the person.

The development was first reported by The New York Times.

Trump has argued he is immune from charges in his three remaining criminal cases that have not yet gone to trial — a battle set to play out in the lower courts in the coming weeks as trial judges apply the Supreme Court’s immunity standard.

Just before he went to trial in his hush money case, Trump had mounted a last-minute immunity defense as part of efforts to seek delays, claiming some of prosecutors’ expected trial evidence, like tweets during his presidency, was protected.

Merchan had rejected Trump’s presidential immunity defense as untimely, enabling the case to reach a jury, which ultimately delivered the first criminal conviction of a former U.S. president.

“The Court declines to consider whether the doctrine of presidential immunity precludes the introduction of evidence of purported official presidential acts in a criminal proceeding,” Merchan said at the time.

Trump was convicted on 34 counts for lying in New York business records with the intent to unlawfully influence the 2016 presidential election when he reimbursed his then-fixer, Michael Cohen, for a hush money payment to a porn star who was claiming an affair with Trump. Trump denies the affair.

The Hill has reached out to a spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) and Trump’s attorney for comment.

The Supreme Court’s majority opinion on Monday specified that immunized acts cannot be used as evidence to prosecute unofficial conduct.

“If official conduct for which the President is immune may be scrutinized to help secure his conviction, even on charges that purport to be based only on his unofficial conduct, the ‘intended effect’ of immunity would be defeated,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court.

That argument was joined by four of his fellow conservatives. But Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s final appointee to the high court who otherwise joined the majority, disagreed, writing that she agreed with the three liberal dissenters on that point.

“The Constitution does not require blinding juries to the circumstances surrounding conduct for which Presidents can be held liable,” Barrett wrote.

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