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Trump Legal News: Maybe September

The Supreme Court's new definition of presidential immunity has raised questions in all of Donald Trump's criminal cases, including the one in which he was already convicted. As a result, Judge Juan Merchan has decided not to sentence Trump this month, as planned, and instead has moved the sentencing date to September 19.

Most of the stories that we saw about this news framed it as a victory for Trump, because the delay means he won't be doing jail time, or suffering any other penalty, before the election. Sure, but that was always the case. As such, it was an easy call for Merchan to wait until he's had a chance to look at Trump's dubious claims that he was covered by presidential immunity. Even the D.A. agreed that a delay was for the best. With all the appeals that Trump will undertake, actual punishment is surely a year or more away, and would be post-election, delay or no.

Indeed, from where we sit—and maybe we're missing something here—this news is pretty disastrous for Trump. True, Joe Biden doesn't get the benefit of a big distraction from his current woes. And true, it means that Trump won't be sentenced days before the Republican National Convention. But it does mean he'll be sentenced about 6 weeks before the actual election. That means lots of headlines at just the time when non-political-junkie voters are paying attention.

The obvious parallel here is James Comey's announcement about Hillary Clinton's e-mails on Oct. 28, 2016. And remember, he didn't actually find anything, and she was never convicted of a crime. So, even if Trump is not sentenced (possible), or even if his sentence is overturned (not very likely), it will still be a gaggle of Trump-the-criminal stories. Maybe 6 weeks will be enough for the effect to subside, as opposed to the 11 days that Clinton had. But we tend to doubt it. (Z)

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