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Trump attorney says legal team will appeal conviction, comply with pre-sentence probe

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Will Scharf, a member of Donald Trump’s legal team, said Sunday that the former president will appeal his conviction on 34 felony counts in New York but will comply with a pre-sentencing investigation in the meantime.

Trump’s conviction, centered around allegations he covered up a hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election, will be the subject of an investigation from the Probation Department, which will include interviewing Trump. A report following the inquiry’s conclusion will provide Judge Juan Merchan with a sentencing recommendation, experts have told ABC News.

“The president’s going to cooperate with the pre-sentence investigation. And we’re going to speedily appeal this unjust verdict. I think this case is replete with reversible error. We plan to vigorously defend President Trump’s rights in the appellate courts all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary,” Scharf told ABC’s “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos.

Trump and his legal team have repeatedly panned the case against him as thin and the ensuing trial as a “sham,” with particular enmity reserved for Merchan, who Scharf, Trump and the former president’s allies have described as biased, citing a $15 donation he made to President Joe Biden in 2020.

The barbs grew to such an extent that Merchan imposed a gag order on Trump, prohibiting him from commenting on the judge’s family, witnesses, jurors and others involved in the trial.

In the days since the conviction, Trump has escalated his attacks on Merchan, including calling him a “devil.”

“These are all things that President Trump absolutely has to comment on. I think the fact that he labored under a gag order for as long as he did was manifestly unjust. So yes, absolutely. President Trump needs to be carrying his message to the American people,” Scharf said Sunday.

Scharf also pointed to Merchan when explaining why Trump didn’t testify himself, arguing that the judge’s bounds of what the former president could’ve been asked on the stand were too wide.

“I think in light of Judge Merchan’s decision about the scope of allowable cross-examination, which I believe was wildly wrong… I think it would have been dangerous for President Trump to take the stand. But I think had President Trump taken the stand, certainly on direct [examination] he would have been a compelling witness,” he said.

Beyond being historical in its own right, marking the first time a former president has ever been convicted of a felony, the conviction also offers a rare chance to potentially alter a race between two men with nearly universal name recognition that Trump has, so far, been seen as leading.

Democrats have speculated over the past few days that the news could sway undecided voters to not vote for Trump, and that even movement on the margins could alter the results in key swing states. Republicans, meanwhile, boasted that the conviction will supercharge Trump’s base — a claim Biden surrogate and Gov. Wes Moore, D-Md., rejected.

“The American people have just gotten a bird’s eye view on how, over the past months, how these two individuals deal with trials. You know, you look at President Biden and the trials that he has had to deal with, things like deadly storms in the Midwest… And on the other side, you see Donald Trump, who has been dealing with trials, as well, except those trials had been his own,” Moore told Stephanopoulos on Sunday.

“Those trials have been criminal convictions. And I think that you’re seeing a very clear example of what it means to have a president who is focusing on our future, on our freedoms. And on the other side, you see Donald Trump, who’s, frankly, spending this time focused, focusing on his own freedoms and his own future.”

When pressed on an ongoing debate among Democrats over how much to focus on Trump’s conviction, Moore pivoted, knocking Trump over his past claims that Black voters can relate with him more due to his legal troubles.

“I hear the argument that people are saying that him being a convicted felon is actually going to help him and, particularly, how that’s going to help him in communities of color, in African American communities… This is a very — it’s a deeply problematic and a deeply offensive argument,” Moore said.

“What is going to resonate with the African American community, what’s going to resonate with the community as a whole is having a person, having a president like we have [in] President Biden, who’s actually focusing on our futures. The fact that President Trump is now a convicted felon does not make him resonate with any community, does not make us more, more connectable to anybody else.”

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