Trump’s Sentencing Delayed Following Supreme Court Ruling on Presidential Immunity

The former US president is now free to accept the Republican nomination

New York Judge Juan Merchan has postponed the next hearing in the case against former US President Donald Trump to September 18, “if still necessary,” following the US Supreme Court’s decision that presidents enjoy immunity for official actions.

Trump was charged with “falsifying business records” for alleged hush-money payments to adult actress Stormy Daniels via his then-attorney Michael Cohen. In a historic first, he was found guilty on all 34 counts by a Manhattan jury in May. He was scheduled to be sentenced on July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention was expected to nominate him for the 2024 presidential ticket.

“The July 11, 2024, sentencing date is therefore vacated,” Merchan said in a memo on Tuesday. “The Court’s decision will be rendered off-calendar on September 6, 2024, and the matter is adjourned to September 18, 2024, at 10:00 AM for the imposition of sentence, if such is still necessary, or other proceedings.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who prosecuted the former president, did not agree with the request of defense attorneys to throw out the verdict, but did not oppose a delay in sentencing.

Merchan’s order means that Trump will be free to accept the Republican nomination to challenge the incumbent President Joe Biden in the November election. Before Monday’s Supreme Court verdict, it seemed likely that the Colombian-born judge would order the former president sent to prison just before the convention.

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the US Constitution granted the former president “absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions within his conclusive and preclusive constitutional authority,” as well as “at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for all his official acts.”

While no such immunity existed for unofficial acts, courts would need to hold evidentiary hearings to establish whether something a president allegedly did amounted to official or unofficial conduct, and in so doing “may not inquire into the president’s motives.”

The Supreme Court was addressing a federal case brought by special counsel Jack Smith, related to the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol. However, Bragg’s entire case rested on the assumption of Trump’s motives behind the reimbursements to Cohen.

“There are no kings in America,” Biden said on Monday evening, denouncing the Supreme Court decision as a dangerous precedent. “No one, no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States.”

Trump welcomed the ruling as a “big win for our constitution and democracy.”