Distinguished Visiting Lecturer David Cay Johnston Interviewed by Salon on Donald Trump

Distinguished Visiting Lecturer David Cay Johnston was recently interviewed by Salon about the verdict in the Donald Trump business fraud case, his sentencing, and the upcoming election, among other related topics.

Regarding sentencing, Johnston says:

“Donald Trump can bring his lawyers and they can certainly try to moderate what he says in the pre-sentencing interview. But the pre-sentencing report prepared by a probation officer will likely not contain anything new in terms of who Donald is or anything the judge doesn’t know. What it will provide the probation officers with is opportunity to judge whether he can even fake contrition, and that’s where Trump has an irresolvable problem. Roy Cohn taught him that if law enforcement comes after you then you attack them. They are corrupt. They are dishonest. You are as pure as the fresh fallen snow. Never, ever give an inch. You are perfect. Well, that’s not going to work with the probation officer and Judge Merchan. But that approach will work with Trump cult followers and too many other members of the public.

I think the meeting with the pre-sentencing probation officer is an opportunity for Trump to manipulate, but it’s also a high risk that he will just dig himself further. At the sentencing hearing, if the judge calls on Trump to speak, I think there’ll be a real crisis for him. He will know that he can’t apologize. Trump cannot say “I was wrong.” All he can do is attack the judge, and that’s an invitation to a longer sentence. That’s how the system is supposed to work. If you refuse to acknowledge and take responsibility for wrongdoing, you’re sure to get a longer tougher sentence than somebody who says, “Yeah, I screwed up, and I recognize that now.”

I will be surprised if Judge Merchan does not give Trump some time behind bars. That could be the absolute minimum of 30 days. More likely, it may be much longer up to the four-year maximum.”