Trump has interview with New York probation officer

Donald Trump has had a probation interview as part of the sentencing process for his criminal conviction in the New York hush-money case.

The former US president did the interview virtually from his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, with a probation officer at the Manhattan court.

Trump was accompanied by his lawyer Todd Blanche, a source told CBS News, the BBC’s news partner.

The probation officer will use the routine interview, which lasted less than 30 minutes, to compile a pre-sentencing report for Justice Juan Merchan.

Trump was convicted last month of 34 counts of falsifying business records and is due to be sentenced on 11 July.

A spokesperson with the New York City mayor’s office said defendants are given the option of an in-person interview, or one via video link.

Further exceptions were probably made for Trump due to the high-profile nature of his case, an expert told the BBC.

It would be too disruptive for the former president to come to the probation office in New York City, said former New York Supreme Court Judge Diane Kiesel.

“The press would be all over the building and the Secret Service would have to be there, too,” she said. “It makes more sense to do it this way.”

Convicts in the New York Court system do not usually have their lawyers present for probation interviews, Ms Kiesel added.

However, Justice Merchan allowed Mr Blanche to appear alongside his client on Monday.

Pre-sentencing reports include information about nearly every aspect of a convict’s life, including where and when they were born, their marriages, criminal history, financial means, health and overall living arrangements.

The probation officer probably asked Trump to talk about the crime he was convicted of, Ms Kiesel said.

She said most defendants will simply say they intend to appeal against the verdict – as Trump has said he will do – or decline to comment.

The reports are used by the judge to inform what punishment should be given.

The interview is often an opportunity for a convict to argue for leniency in the sentence.

The reports of the interview are confidential and will only be made available to the judge, the defendant and the lawyers in the case, Ms Kiesel said.

Jurors found Trump guilty of falsifying business records to conceal hush-money payments made to former porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Most legal commentators believe that Trump is unlikely to face any jail time, given his lack of criminal history and age.

Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

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