Judge didn't deny Trump request to skip hush money trial for son's graduation | Fact check

The claim: Judge in hush-money trial told Trump he can’t attend son’s graduation

An April 16 Facebook post (direct link, archive link) shows side-by-side photos of former President Donald Trump and Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing Trump’s hush-money trial in New York.

“BREAKING: Donald Trump speaks out after Judge Merchan informed him that he could not attend his son Barron’s high school graduation or he will be jailed,” reads the post’s caption.

It was shared more than 100 times in a day. Similar versions were shared widely on Facebook and by Trump's son, Eric, on X, formerly Twitter.

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Our rating: False

Merchan didn’t say that in his April 15 ruling. He did not rule that day on Trump's request to attend the graduation, delaying the decision instead. He said if the trial is on schedule he would be willing to adjourn for the day.

No ruling from judge on Trump’s graduation request

Trump, the first former U.S. president to stand trial in a criminal case, is accused of falsifying business records to disguise a $130,000 hush-money payment to a porn star and illegally influence the 2016 presidential election. His trial in New York started April 15, roughly a month before his youngest son, Barron, will graduate from a high school near Mar-a-Lago.

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But Merchan did not say Trump couldn't attend the commencement ceremony and would risk being jailed if he did. Rather, the judge delayed the decision and did not issue a ruling of any kind on that request, according to multiple published reports.

Before jury selection began, attorney Todd Blanche asked Merchan to adjourn court for the day May 17 so Trump could attend the graduation, The Independent reported. Merchan did not specifically deny that request, instead saying he would not rule “at this time" and could not accommodate the request if the trial were to fall behind schedule, according to the newspaper.

The Associated Press reported that both Trump and one of his lawyers have children graduating soon and that while Merchan said he would not rule on the requests immediately, he would be willing to adjourn for one or both days.

“It really depends on how we’re doing on time and where we are in the trial,” the AP quoted Merchan as saying.

However, Merchan ruled against Trump on a separate request, declining to excuse the presumptive Republican presidential nominee from the trial to attend Supreme Court arguments on presidential immunity on April 25 in Washington, The Hill reported.

“Arguing before the Supreme Court is a big deal, and I can certainly appreciate why your client would want to be there, but a trial in New York Supreme Court … is also a big deal,” Merchan told Blanche, according to The Hill. “I will see him here next week.”

New York state law requires criminal defendants to attend their full trials unless they receive permission from the judge.

Trump faces 34 felony counts that each carry a maximum sentence of four years, although New York law caps such sentences at 20 years. Legal experts say if Trump is convicted, a realistic sentence ranges from probation to four years in prison, although Trump would likely remain free on appeal during the duration of the presidential election, USA TODAY reported.

Trump’s legal issues have spawned a significant amount of misinformation on social media. Among fabricated claims debunked by USA TODAY are assertions that Trump was prosecuted for repaying a loan, that he offered a Supreme Court nomination to the judge overseeing his classified documents case and that his lawyer offered a $10 million bribe to the New York judge who presided over his real estate fraud lawsuit.

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user who shared the post but did not immediately receive a response.

The Associated Press and FactCheck.org also debunked the claim.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Judge hasn't ruled on Trump request to attend graduation | Fact check