The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s hush money case has granted a request to delay the former United States president’s sentencing until at least September. This decision, made on Tuesday, follows a US Supreme Court ruling that provides broad criminal immunity for presidents in their official acts, told AP News.

Trump’s legal team referenced the Supreme Court’s decision in a letter to Judge Juan Merchan, requesting the delay in sentencing, which was initially scheduled for July 11. The lawyers argued they needed more time to build their case that Trump’s conviction on 34 felony charges of falsifying business documents to cover up hush money payments made to an adult actress should be overturned in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Before Merchan’s decision, prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office stated that Trump’s argument was “without merit” but agreed to the sentencing delay. Merchan subsequently postponed the sentencing to at least September 18, just under two months before the November 8 elections.

Prosecutors contended that Trump falsified business records to cover up his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump. They linked the payments to a broader scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election. In their letter to Merchan, Trump’s lawyers argued that during the trial, prosecutors presented evidence involving Trump’s official acts as president, including social media posts and conversations he had while in the White House.

According to Trump’s lawyers, this evidence should have been protected under presidential immunity, citing the Supreme Court’s Monday ruling. The majority opinion from six justices on the nine-member bench stated that presidents have “absolute immunity” from criminal liability for any acts within their “core constitutional powers.” The ruling also specified that evidence related to those official acts may not be presented at trial.

However, the ruling, which was criticized by the court’s three liberal justices, noted that presidents could still be prosecuted for acts outside those powers. The exact boundaries remain unclear. In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor warned that the decision opened the door to “nightmare scenarios,” including possible immunity for assassinating a political rival. “In every use of official power, the president is now a king above the law,” she wrote.

The Supreme Court ruling is favorable for Trump, who faces three additional criminal trials. It is expected to significantly impact the legal arguments in a federal case related to Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results after his loss to President Joe Biden. It could also affect a state trial in Georgia regarding attempts to pressure officials to change the 2020 vote count and a second federal trial concerning Trump allegedly hiding and hoarding classified White House documents at his Florida estate.

The New York trial, however, was the only trial expected to conclude before the election. While the initial guilty verdict did not significantly shift support for Trump, analysts suggest that a severe sentence could deter some potential Trump voters. Merchants decision comes shortly after Biden’s underwhelming performance in the first presidential debate against Trump, which has put the Democrat’s campaign in damage control and raised concerns about the 81-year-old’s age.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday showed that one in three Democrats think Biden should end his re-election bid after the debate. Despite this, the poll found no prominent elected Democrat would perform better than Biden in a hypothetical matchup against Trump. Biden is set to meet with Democratic governors to address their concerns and will give his first post-debate interview to ABC News on Friday, followed by a news conference during a NATO conference next week.



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