Trump to meet with probation officer via video from Florida; NYC defender groups slam special treatment

Newly convicted felon Donald Trump was slated to meet with his probation officer on Monday, sources confirmed to the Daily News — only unlike most every other New York City defendant required to attend the sit-down in person, he’ll do so from the comfort of his Florida home. 

In another unusual arrangement, Justice Juan Merchan said Trump could be accompanied by his lawyer, Todd Blanche, according to public court records.

Manhattan defendants typically meet with probation at 100 Centre St., where Trump just went on trial. But as first reported by The Associated Press, Trump will meet his assigned officer virtually from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

Public defender groups issued a joint call for the probation department to grant all defendants the same benefits afforded to the former president—regardless of “income, status, or class.”

“All people convicted of crimes should be allowed counsel in their probation interview, not just billionaires. This is just another example of our two-tiered system of justice, read a statement issued by The Legal Aid Society, The Bronx Defenders, New York County Defender Services, and the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem.

“Pre-sentencing interviews with probation officers influence sentencing, and public defenders are deprived of joining their clients for these meetings. The option of joining these interviews virtually is typically not extended to the people we represent either.”

Donald Trump leaves the lobby of Trump Tower after speaking in Manhattan, New York Friday, May 31, 2024. (Barry Williams for New York Daily News)
Donald Trump leaves the lobby of Trump Tower after speaking in Manhattan, New York on Friday, May 31, 2024. (Barry Williams for New York Daily News)

 

The former president, who turns 78 on Friday, became the first president in U.S. history to be convicted of a crime when a jury found him guilty on May 30 of falsifying New York business records to cover up a conspiracy to hide damaging information about his past from voters in 2016.

The 34 counts he was convicted of each carry up to four years in prison, with the maximum possible sentence being 20 years, or could result in a term of probation and fines. He has vowed to appeal the conviction.

He has until Thursday to submit his presentence report, which could include letters of recommendation from his friends and family, and prosecutors have until June 27 to file theirs, with the question still hanging in the air as to whether they’ll seek to imprison Trump.

“President Trump has established a commanding polling lead in the battleground and Crooked Joe Biden is on the ropes,” his campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said when reached for comment Monday. “President Trump and his legal team are already taking necessary steps to challenge and defeat the lawless Manhattan DA case.”

Probation could question the ex-president about several personal aspects of his life, including his relationships with his relatives, his professional and educational resume, and his health — mental and physical — and sign papers permitting probation to look into his credit score and finances.

Convict felon and former personal lawyer of Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, leaves his Park Avenue apartment on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, on his way to Manhattan Criminal Court for the second day of testimony on his former boss's hush money trial. (Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News)
Michael Cohen leaves his Park Ave. apartment on May 14, 2024, on his way to Manhattan Criminal Court. (Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News)

Richard Serafini, a former state and federal prosecutor now in private practice, said the purpose of meeting with a probation officer is to cull as much information as possible to give the judge a complete picture of a person’s life as they consider appropriate punishment.

“What’s usually really important is that the person shows some regret for having committed the crime, that they accept responsibility, and indicate that they’re sorry,” Serafini said.

Jurors found Trump guilty after spending around 12 hours across two days in the jury room after hearing from 20 prosecution witnesses, including four days of testimony from American Media exec David Pecker, who described hatching a plan with Trump and his ex-fixer Michael Cohen in August 2015 to boost his candidacy with flattering coverage about him and tarnish his opponents by publishing hit jobs.

Crucially, Pecker told the jury he agreed to be the Trump campaign’s “eyes and ears” by locating stories brewing that could harm his chances with voters. The media bigwig said that led to his company paying off former Playboy model Karen McDougal and a Trump Tower doorman to buy their silence about alleged sex scandals.

Pecker said he backed out of a plan to silence Stormy Daniels at the last minute, leading to the porn star being paid off in the waning days of the 2016 race by Cohen, who also spent several days on the stand and went to federal prison for the notorious payout.

The Manhattan criminal case is the only one of four Trump faces expected to be resolved before this year’s election. He’s accused in three others of plotting to subvert the results of the 2020 election, overturn that contest’s results in Georgia, and hoarding stolen classified documents after leaving the White House and hiding them from authorities. He denies all allegations and claims he’s the victim of a witch hunt.


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