Trump lawyers say alleged evidence shown to jury in NYC case was protected as official acts of the presidency

The legal team for Trump said that certain pieces of evidence are were protected under "official acts," per SCOTUS' immunity ruling.

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Donald Trump's legal team has argued that some pieces of evidence at the alleged falsified business records case in New York were protected as official acts of the 45th president while Trump was in office. This comes after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Trump having immunity for official acts.

Last week, Trump's legal team filed a motion arguing that the verdict in the case, brought by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, should be overturned following the immunity decision. Subsequently, Judge Juan Merchan pushed the sentencing date back to Sept. 18 and asked for time to look over Trump's legal claim. The date was originally scheduled for July 11.

The legal team for Trump did not assert that he is immune the falsified business records charges, but that evidence used in the conviction, namely correspondence between himself and his aides as well as social media posts, were protected as "official acts," according to at letter sent to the court on July 1. Trump's team takes issue with the testimony of Hope Hicks in the examination of the evidence, which referenced the protected correspondence. Hicks had served as Trump's 2016 campaign secretary and then later worked for him in the White House.

Hicks indicated to the jury that when Trump was in office, he told her that "it would have been bad" if Stormy Daniels' allegations of an affair with Trump had come out publicly before the election happened. This testimony helped Bragg's narrative that the campaign was involved in the alleged hush money payments to Daniels instead of it being a personal issue that Trump was trying to solve to protect his family or for other non-political reasons.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass, in the courtroom, had pointed out that testimony in closing arguments in the case, and said that it “puts the nail in Mr. Trump’s coffin," per The Hill. But it may not have been at all admissible. 

Bragg and the prosecution argued that Trump had reimbursed his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the payments to Daniels and that 34 records pertaining to these payments were marked "legal fees" in bookkeeping records. The prosecution argued that the legal fees were not legal fees and were therefore fraudulently recorded.



Other evidence in the case that Trump’s team took issue with included several of Trump's posts on then-Twitter. The 45th president's legal team argued that these were also protected as official acts, as he was president during that time and his White House had said that Trump's social media were official statements, making the posts official acts. The posts referenced Michael Cohen, the prosecution's star witness.

Other evidence cited by Trump's team include call records from the White House as well as Trump's 2018 government ethics form, which reads, '“[I]n 2016 expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump’s attorneys, Michael Cohen. Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017.”
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