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​Trump team files letter saying they want to challenge hush money verdict based on Supreme Court immunity ruling

<i>Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

By Kara Scannell and Kaitlan Collins, CNN

(CNN) — Donald Trump’s legal team filed a letter Monday seeking to challenge the former president’s conviction in his New York criminal hush money trial based on the US Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity, a source told CNN.

Just hours after the high court ruling, Trump’s lawyer filed a letter with Judge Juan Merchan seeking permission to file a motion to challenge the verdict, the source said. If the judge allows Trump to file the motion it could delay Trump’s sentencing – set for next week – to allow the parties to brief the issue.

The longshot bid to challenge Trump’s New York conviction follows the Supreme Court decision that presidents have an absolute immunity from prosecution for core official acts. It comes as the 2024 Republican presumptive presidential nominee seeks to avoid other pre-election trials in the three most significant criminal prosecutions he faces.

In the letter, Trump’s legal team cited the Supreme Court’s decision and suggested postponing his sentencing next week, a source familiar with the effort told CNN.

The former president’s lawyers argued that the ruling confirmed their position that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg should not have been allowed to offer evidence at the trial regarding Trump’s “official acts” and, as a result, the jury’s guilty verdict should be set aside.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office did not file its sentencing submission Monday as expected, according to a separate source.

The district attorney’s office declined to comment on the letter Monday night.

Will Scharf, an attorney who represents Trump in the immunity case, told CNN Monday night the high court’s ruling “absolutely” impacts the hush money case.

“The Supreme Court was very clear that for acts that fall within the outer perimeter of the president’s official responsibilities, acts that are presumptively immune from prosecution, that evidence of those acts cannot be used to try essentially private acts,” he said on “The Source.”

Scharf said that Bragg’s case used a “substantial number of official acts of the presidency” as evidence, and therefore, “we believe that corrupts that trial, that that indicates that that jury verdict needs to be overturned and, at the very least, we deserve a new trial where those immune acts will not come into evidence, as the Supreme Court dictated today.”

He pointed to communications made through official White House communication channels and posts from Trump’s official Twitter account as falling “neatly within the outer perimeter of a president’s official responsibilities and duties,” and thus “not admissible as evidence in that New York trial.”

The Supreme Court, in the 6-3 decision that split along ideological lines, ruled that Trump may claim immunity from criminal prosecution for some of the actions he took as president before leaving office, likely delaying cases – like his federal election subversion trial related to his actions on January 6, 2021 – even further.

Trump became the first former US president to be convicted of a felony in May when the Manhattan jury found him guilty of all 34 counts of falsifying business records in his hush money criminal trial.

Trump’s sentence is up to the judge, and it could include prison time or probation. Merchan set that sentencing hearing for July 11.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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