Trump accused of demanding special treatment for his New York probation interview

Questions are being asked over whether Donald Trump received preferential treatment during his pretrial probation interview.

Trump attended an interview with his New York probation officer on Monday after being found guilty last month of 34 federal counts of falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to women he allegedly had affairs with.

The probation officer will prepare a sentencing recommendation for the judge ahead of Trump’s sentencing, scheduled for July 11.

Although this step is required and routine, how Trump went about it was not. He called in virtually, reportedly from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and had his attorney, Todd Blanche, join him on the call.

The interview was “less than a half-hour of routine and uneventful questions and answers,” a source told the Associated Press. Trump reportedly answered questions about his personal history and current physical and mental health.

Blanche had written a letter to trial Judge Juan Merchan requesting to be present during the interview. In response, Judge Merchan ordered on June 7 that Blanche was permitted to attend the interview, an atypical move. But Manhattan prosecutors didn’t object to it.

Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump Tower on May 31 a day after a New York jury found himpguilty of 34 felony charges
Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump Tower on May 31 a day after a New York jury found himpguilty of 34 felony charges (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A coalition of public defense organizations criticized a system that allowed the former president preferential treatment over other convicted felons.

“All people convicted of crimes should be allowed counsel in their probation interview, not just billionaires,” wrote The Legal Aid Society, The Bronx Defenders, and Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem in a joint statement on Monday.

“Pre-sentencing interviews with probation officers influence sentencing, and public defenders are deprived of joining their clients for these meetings.”

The groups called on the Department of Probation “to ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of income, status, or class, receive the same pre-sentencing opportunities.”

The Independent has contacted the probation department for comment.

However a spokesperson for New York mayor Eric Adams told Business Insider that “no exceptions are being made because it’s President Trump.”

But others said that Trump’s treatment was different to what other felons received.

Former department of corrections and probation commissioner Martin Horn told NBC News that allowing the call to be conducted virtually was “highly unusual”. However he also noted that an in-person sit-down interview with Trump would likely be “very disruptive,” due to the Secret Service and press in tow.

Legal Aid attorney Sam Roberts told Business Insider that he had “never been present at a probation interview” with any of his 3,000 clients.

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