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Lina Maria Gonzalez http://www.chicagotribune.

com/business/ct-
Avellaneda biz-trump-attacks-federal-reserve-20180820-
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20162015148 Agosto 20 del 2018 Agosto 27 de 2018

Duncan Hunter overdrew his bank account an average of three times a


week, every week, for seven years
In an interview with Fox News, President Trump shared the highly
unusual opinion that it “almost ought to be outlawed” for federal
criminal defendants to cooperate with the government in exchange for
more-lenient sentencing.
“If somebody defrauded a bank and he’s going to get 10 years in jail or
20 years in jail, but if you can say something bad about Donald Trump
and you’ll go down to two years or three years, which is the deal
[Michael Cohen] made,” he told Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt.
“I’ve had many friends involved in this stuff,” the president added. “It’s
called ‘flipping,’ and it almost ought to be illegal.”
The types of arrangements Trump was referring to typically happen as
part of plea bargains, which are extremely common in federal criminal
cases. “Plea bargaining is a defining, if not the defining, feature of the
federal criminal justice system,” as a 2011 Justice Department
report characterized it, quoting earlier research.

In fiscal 2017, the last year for which complete data is available, nearly
90 percent of the 75,163 defendants in federal criminal cases ultimately
opted to plead guilty rather than take the case to trial. That number has
remained above the 80 percent mark for the past two decades.
Plea agreements weren’t always this common, but their use increased
considerably following “a shift to tougher sentencing laws in the
1980s,” according to the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy
at the University at Albany. “More defendants are accepting plea
bargains rather than taking the risk of going to trial, which could result
in harsher penalties.”
Not all plea agreements come with a promise from the defendant to
cooperate in other criminal cases, which is the practice singled out for
criticism by Trump. But many do. A 2016 report by the U.S. Sentencing
Commission found that in each year between 2009 and 2014, between
9,000 and 10,000 federal defendants received a reduced sentence for
providing “substantial assistance” to the government before
sentencing. Each year roughly 2,000 additional offenders also received
sentence adjustments for offering assistance after their initial
sentencing.
Many criminal-justice reform groups have criticized the plea-
bargaining and sentencing system as highly coercive and punitive.
In drug cases, in particular, prosecutors have been accused of
threatening defendants with extremely harsh sentences for relatively
minor infractions in the hope of getting them to plead guilty.
Most critics of the system, however, have focused on its effects on poor
defendants and low-level offenders, who may feel they have no other
choice but to accept the government’s bargain to avoid a protracted,
costly and potentially unsuccessful court battle.
Advocates for changes have tended to be less concerned about plea
bargains involving crimes committed by high-level associates of U.S.
presidents.

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