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Video: RNC preparing in case Trump is jailed before convention

Former President Donald Trump speaks at Trump Tower in New York on Friday, May 31, 2024. (Barry Williams/New York Daily News/TNS)
June 07, 2024

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is preparing contingency plans in case former President Donald Trump is sentenced to prison time during the party’s nominating convention in July.

Trump, who was the 2016 and 2020 Republican presidential nominee and who is on track to become the party’s 2024 nominee, was convicted by a New York City jury last week on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. 

Trump is currently set to face sentencing on July 11, just days before the RNC convention on July 15, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

RNC Chair Michael Whatley told Newsmax on Tuesday that the party is preparing for the possibility that New York Judge Juan Merchan orders Trump to report to prison instead of allowing him to remain free to attend the nominating convention.

“I’m actually going up to Milwaukee this week, and we’re going to have a series of conversations,” Whatley said. “But look, we expect that Donald Trump is going to be in Milwaukee, and he’s going to be able to accept that nomination, and if not, we will make whatever contingency planning we need to make for it.”

Whatley expressed confidence that Trump will be the Republican Party’s presidential candidate by the time the RNC convention concludes and that he will go on “to be the 47th president of the United States,” replacing his 2020 opponent, President Joe Biden.

Whatley declined to entertain many hypotheticals about Trump’s sentencing hearing on July 11.

“I don’t want to go into a lot of hypotheticals. We’ll cross that bridge. But you sort of have to go into this stuff, as we certainly will be, planning on it,” Whatley said. “We’ll be thinking about it, and we’re working on that right now. But what we want to do is we want to have a show that is going to roll out Donald Trump and his vision for America, which is going to set up this election cycle.”

Asked if the RNC would consider having Trump’s appearance be a virtual one if he is sentenced to prison time ahead of the convention, Whatley said “everything is being thought about, everything is being considered at this point in time.”

READ MORE: Trump ally ordered to report to prison

Trump and his allies have indicated they are planning to appeal the New York conviction, and have expressed confidence that higher courts will toss the charges. Still, both Trump and his allies anticipate that the appeals process could take time. The former president has indicated that he is prepared to face at least some measure of jail time as the process plays out.

The New York case against Trump centered around payments he made to enforce a 2016 nondisclosure agreement to prevent adult film star Stephanie Clifford (who goes by Stormy Daniels) from publicly claiming they had an extramarital encounter. Trump classified the payments for this nondisclosure contract, arranged by his former lawyer Michael Cohen, as “legal expenses,” but Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office argued that the description was inaccurate. 

In most cases in New York, falsifying business records would be considered a misdemeanor offense; however, it can be elevated to a felony offense if it was done to conceal another crime. In this case, Bragg’s office argued that the nondisclosure payments were made to help Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and that his alleged mischaracterized payments constituted an effort to hide a donation to his campaign without disclosing it. 

Trump and his allies have decried the prosecution as politically motivated and argued his conviction was the result of a biased trial process.