Former federal prosecutor says Trump could be jailed if convicted for falsifying business records

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Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissman said Tuesday that former President Trump could face a jail sentence if he is convicted of falsifying business records in his New York hush money trial, which starts later this month.

Trump is facing 34 felony counts over claims that he falsified business records in attempts to cover up hush money payments made to hide an alleged affair with adult film actress Stormey Daniels during the closing weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. 

“He could be looking at jail,” Weissmann said in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer. “This is one where the judge I think is going to be looking at the rule of law to see how other people were treated, other people with a similar criminal background. I think this is an area where Donald Trump’s pretrial behavior is going to be relevant.”

Weissman noted that Trump’s frequent attacks on the judge and his family could come back to bite him. Judge Juan Merchan expanded a gag order in the case Monday, preventing the former president from continuously lashing out on his daughter, Loren Merchan, who is a Democratic strategist.

The initial gag order already barred him from making public statements about witnesses, other prosecutors, court staff and their family members “if those statements are made with the intent to materially interfere with” the case.

The former prosecutor also predicted that Trump, if found guilty, would likely not get any favors during sentencing because of his conduct.

“If you have someone who’s contrite, if you have someone who shares that he’s respectful of the rule of law, that this was an aberration, that is something that the court can take into account,” he said.

“But if you think that the defendant actually is running basically as an outlaw and is basically thumbing his nose at the judicial process and shows no sign of remorse and essentially is a recidivist, those are factors that a judge can consider,” Weissman continued. “And I am sure that a judge like Judge Merchan — if there were to be a conviction — is going to factor all of that in. But it’s just way too soon to say whether it would actually constitute jail time.”

The case goes to trial April 15, making it the first time a former president stands trial on criminal charges.

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