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Donald Trump just lost his appeal – and his odds of prison just went up

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There’s a widespread notion that Donald Trump violated his gag order in his New York criminal trial, got away with it, and kept violating it – but that’s not what happened. After Trump quickly racked up ten violations before a hearing could even be held, Judge Merchan then used that hearing to inform Trump that any additional violations would land him in jail. Trump then sheepishly obeyed the gag order for the remainder of the trial. In fact Trump is still under gag order while awaiting sentencing, and he’s still obeying it, even as his attorneys try to get it overturned.

To that end, the highest appeals court in New York has just now rejected Trump’s claim that his gag order is unconstitutional. Why does this matter? For one thing, it means Trump has to keep abiding by the gag order while awaiting sentencing. But there’s a far more important aspect to this ruling.

Now that Trump has been found guilty by the jury, Judge Merchan is permitted to take the totality of Trump’s behavior into account when handing down the sentence. This includes Trump’s gag order violations. If the appeals court had sided with Trump’s claim that the gag order was unconstitutional, it would be difficult for Merchan to cite the gag order violations as part of sentencing. But now that the appeals court has definitively upheld the legitimacy of Trump’s gag order, Merchan can easily use Trump’s violations as a basis during sentencing.

. . .

In other words, whatever the odds are that Trump is given a prison sentence in this trial, those odds just went up. As I’ve said before, it would be a fool’s errand to try to put specific percentage odds on Trump getting prison in this trial. It comes down solely to Judge Merchan’s discretion, and we don’t know what’s in his head. But the odds definitely just went up.

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