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Trump to undergo probation interview for NY hush money case Monday afternoon: Sources


(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump is expected to attend a pre-sentencing interview on Monday afternoon ahead of his July 11 sentencing in his New York criminal case, according to sources familiar with the matter.

A probation officer is expected to conduct the interview – which Trump will attend remotely from his Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida – to prepare a report recommending the appropriate punishment for Judge Juan Merchan to impose at the former president’s sentencing next month.

Last month, a jury convicted Trump of falsifying business records as part of a scheme to hide information from voters ahead of the 2016 election, including a $130,000 money payment to buy the silence of adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who alleged she had an affair with him, which he has denied.

Although defendants typically attend their interview with probation officials without the presence of counsel, Judge Merchan signed an order last week permitting Trump’s defense lawyer, Todd Blanche, to attend the interview.

The interview will not be public, and the report prepared ahead of Trump’s sentence will likely remain under seal.

In the New York state courts, a probation officer, social worker, or psychologist usually interviews a defendant convicted of a crime to better access their personal and criminal history before preparing a presentence report for the judge overseeing the case. According to Pace University law professor Bennett Gershman, that report is particularly important in cases where a judge accepts a guilty plea or is unfamiliar with the defendant’s background and conduct.

“It’s a lengthy investigation that the probation services do for the judge, and it’s done to give the judge as much information as they can glean in terms of the defendant’s background,” Gershman told ABC News.

Depending on the nature of the crime, a probation officer could speak with the defendant’s family, the victim, or individuals involved in the investigation to prepare their report. The report normally covers a defendant’s personal history, finances, professional work, criminal record and background information about the crime.

The interview also presents the defendant an opportunity to present positive information about himself and make the case for a lighter sentence “if a person is able to garner the sympathy of the probation officer, and they write a report that is more … sympathetic or casts the defendant in a more positive light,” said Fordham Law professor Cheryl Bader.

However, Bader cautioned that the report is unlikely to serve a vital role in Trump’s case because the judge is already familiar with the alleged conduct and Trump’s overall character. The former president frequently targeted the judge throughout the trial — accusing him of being biased and conflicted — and was held in criminal contempt 10 times for violating the case’s limited gag order.

“The judge is very well acquainted with Donald Trump and the circumstances of this case, and so is probably going to be less influenced by details that are in the presentence report,” Bader said.

While the interview is unlikely to shed new details about Trump’s conduct or character, according to Gershman, it could work against Trump if he demonstrates contempt toward the probation officer.

“If Trump gave certain answers that showed a disrespect or a disregard for the system, the judge — the things he has been saying all along — the judge will certainly cite that,” Gershman said. “If Trump makes an apology, shows remorse … the judge would cite that.”

The report prepared by the probation officer — in addition to the sentencing submissions prepared by both sides — will be used by Merchan to consider what kind of sentence to impose on July 11.

Trump was convicted of 34 class-E felonies, the lowest level felonies in New York state that carry a maximum four-year sentence. Merchan could opt to impose prison time, probation, or conditional discharge, including conditions like community service or fines.

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