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

Molly Crane-Newman, New York Daily News on

Published in Political News

NEW YORK — Newly convicted felon Donald Trump met with his probation officer on Monday, a source familiar confirmed to the New York Daily News — only unlike most every other New York City defendant required to attend the sit-down in person, he did so from the comfort of his Florida home.

“The interview was uneventful and lasted less than 30 minutes,” the source said.

In another unusual arrangement, Justice Juan Merchan ruled Friday that Trump could be accompanied by his lawyer, Todd Blanche.

Barring a judge’s permission to bring their legal representation, Manhattan defendants typically meet with probation officials alone at 100 Centre St., where Trump just went on trial. But as first reported by The Associated Press, Trump met 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.

“Presentencing 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.”

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.”

Details of the meeting were not disclosed, but Trump’s probation officer may have questioned him about several personal aspects of his life, including his relationships with his relatives, his professional and educational resume, and his mental and physical health. They may also require him to sign papers permitting probation to examine his credit score and finances.

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.

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 charges related to Trump’s reimbursement to Cohen.


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