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The next legal steps for Trump

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Former President Trump has been convicted by a New York jury on 34 felony counts. The jury took less than two full days to reach a unanimous verdict, the first criminal conviction in history for a former U.S. president. Here to discuss the next legal steps for Trump is NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. Hi, Carrie.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.

CHANG: OK. So just to start us off, what is the timeline for the sentencing part of all this?

JOHNSON: Judge Juan Merchan says he's going to sentence Donald Trump on July 11. That's just a few days before the start of the Republican National Convention. And when that sentencing happens, Judge Merchan has a few different options. He could sentence the former president to probation, something less than probation, just let him walk away, basically, or up to four years of incarceration. But these are low-level felonies, falsification of business records under New York state law. And Trump has no prior criminal record. This was not a violent crime. And so it's hard to predict whether he's going to get any incarceration at this stage.

CHANG: True. But let's also keep in mind that this is not the only federal indictment against Trump. Where do those other cases against him stand at this current moment?

JOHNSON: Yeah, that's right, Ailsa. There are three other indictments against the former president. Two of them are federal cases, and special counsel Jack Smith is in charge of those. The first one is in Florida over Trump's alleged failure to return a bunch of highly classified materials he stored in unsecure places like bathrooms and ballrooms at his Mar-a-Lago resort. The second federal case is right here in Washington, D.C. It revolves around January 6, 2021, the storming of the Capitol and Trump's efforts to cling to power after he lost to Joe Biden. And finally, there's that case in Fulton County, Ga., that state case. But this New York case may be the only one to start and finish before the November election. Trump could not pardon himself for these state crimes in New York, which means really the next fight for him here is going to be on appeal.

CHANG: Let's talk about the appeal. I mean, what kinds of issues do you think Trump's legal team might be exploring for this appeal?

JOHNSON: You know, we heard in court outside the presence of the jury Trump's lawyers express a lot of dissatisfaction over the boundaries of testimony by Stormy Daniels. She's the adult film actress who received these hush money payments, and she testified in kind of great detail about her encounter with the former president at a golf tournament. The former president's lawyers have also raised some questions about how vague and confusing the jury instructions were. We know how important those are because one of the questions the jury had today was hearing back some of those jury instructions.

And finally, there's been a concern by the Trump defense team and the former president himself about the theory of this case to begin with. Remember, these are generally - falsification of business records charges are generally misdemeanors. But the district attorney's office elevated them into felonies because they were all committed with an eye on the election and keeping this information about Trump's affair with Daniels outside of the eyes and ears of the voters in 2016.

CHANG: And real quick, Carrie, 'cause you have been covering all these simultaneous cases going on right now. How does this case in New York stand out to you?

JOHNSON: Until relatively recently, Donald Trump was a New Yorker. He made his name in New York. And now a jury of New York residents, 12 of them who remember him fondly and not so fondly, have rendered their judgment against Trump, the former president. It's a pillar of our legal system that no one is above the law.

CHANG: No one is above the law. That is NPR's Carrie Johnson. Thank you so much, Carrie.

JOHNSON: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.