Donald Trump found guilty on all 34 counts at hush money trial

Donald Trump in Court (Image: X)
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NEW YORK,– In a landmark decision, Donald Trump became the first U.S. president to be convicted of a crime on Thursday when a New York jury found him guilty of falsifying documents to cover up a payment to silence a porn star ahead of the 2016 election.

The 12-member jury deliberated for two days before delivering a unanimous verdict on all 34 counts.

Trump, who, according to Reuters, remained composed as the verdict was read, now awaits sentencing. Justice Juan Merchan has set the sentencing date for July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention, where Trump is expected to be formally nominated for president.

Implications for the 2024 Election

The conviction places the United States in uncharted territory as Trump, the Republican candidate, prepares to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the November 5 election. Despite the verdict, Trump remains eligible to run for office.

“This was a disgrace. This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who is corrupt,” Trump told reporters. “The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people. I am a very innocent man.”

Trump, 77, who has denied any wrongdoing, plans to appeal the conviction. He faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison, though it’s common for similar offenses to result in shorter sentences, fines, or probation. Incarceration would not prevent him from campaigning or assuming office if elected.

Political Reactions and Legal Ramifications

Trump’s fellow Republicans swiftly condemned the verdict. House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson called it “a shameful day in American history.” Meanwhile, Biden’s campaign emphasized that the verdict demonstrates that no one is above the law, but noted that Trump remains eligible to run for president. “There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box,” the campaign stated.

Opinion polls show a tight race between Trump and Biden, with Reuters/Ipsos polling indicating that a guilty verdict could erode Trump’s support among independent and Republican voters. A source close to the Trump campaign suggested the verdict might push him to consider a female running mate.

Details of the Case and Future Legal Battles

The case revolved around Trump’s alleged effort to silence porn star Stormy Daniels with a $130,000 hush money payment during the 2016 election. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen testified that Trump approved the payment, which was disguised as legal fees. Trump’s defense attacked Cohen’s credibility, citing his criminal record and history of lying.

Trump’s legal team has already begun preparations for an appeal, focusing on Daniels’ testimony and the legal theory used by prosecutors to elevate the charges from misdemeanors to felonies. Legal experts believe the appeal faces significant challenges.

Falsifying business documents is typically a misdemeanor in New York, but prosecutors argued that Trump’s actions constituted a felony due to the concealment of an illegal campaign contribution.

The case, considered the least consequential of the four criminal prosecutions Trump faces, was dubbed the “zombie case” for its revival by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg after his predecessor declined to bring charges. Despite its lower perceived impact, this case is likely the only one to go to trial before the election due to delays in the other cases.

Looking Ahead

If elected, Trump could potentially dismiss the two federal cases accusing him of attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss and mishandling classified documents. However, he would not have the authority to stop a separate election subversion case in Georgia. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all cases, framing his legal troubles as political attacks by Biden’s allies.

As Trump navigates his legal battles, the conviction adds a new dimension to his presidential campaign and the political landscape heading into the 2024 election.