Trump found guilty on all 34 counts in hush money case

Trump found guilty on all 34 counts in hush money case

NEW YORK — Donald Trump is the first former U.S. president to become a convicted felon after a jury on Thursday found him guilty on all counts of falsifying business records to conceal alleged affairs during his 2016 campaign.

The 34-count conviction deals the most striking legal blow yet to a man who dodged criminal scrutiny for decades, now unable to fend off a guilty verdict in the city that fostered the fame that catapulted him into the nation’s most powerful office.

Trump’s conviction does not prevent him from running for the office of the presidency or returning to the White House should he win in November, but it hurls the country into uncharted waters as he has firmly secured his spot as the presumptive Republican nominee.

His July 11 sentencing date comes just four days before he is set to officially become that nominee at the Republican National Convention.

“This was a rigged, disgraceful trial. The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people, and they know what happened here, and everybody knows what happened here,” Trump said outside the courtroom shortly after the verdict was read.

Trump could face jail time, but first-time offenders on charges like Trump’s are rarely incarcerated. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D), whose office brought the case against Trump, declined to say whether prosecutors will seek jail time for the former president, insisting that prosecutors would speak through their court filings in coming weeks.

“The only voice that matters is the voice of the jury. And the jury has spoken,” Bragg said.

Judge Juan Merchan, who oversaw the case, withstood a cascade of attacks from Trump throughout the trial. After jurors delivered their verdict, the judge said he would meet them personally to thank them for their work.

The 12 New Yorkers returned with their verdict after roughly 11 hours of deliberation. When the judge announced that a verdict had been reached, gasps echoed throughout the courtroom. Trump sat stone-faced in the courtroom, mainly motionless, only occasionally turning to face the jury.

Trump’s charges stemmed from bogus reimbursements he made to his then-fixer, Michael Cohen, who paid a porn actor $130,000 days before the 2016 election to stay quiet about her alleged affair with Trump, which he denies.

Prosecutors charged Trump over 11 invoices Cohen filed, 12 general ledger entries, and 11 checks Trump paid his then-fixer, saying each amounted to lying in New York business records.

To secure the felony conviction, prosecutors also persuaded jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that the hush money cover-up was to conceal or further some other crime, portraying the payoff as part of a broader “catch-and-kill” scheme to quash negative, salacious stories about Trump that ran afoul of state and federal election laws.

Over roughly four weeks of testimony, prosecutors built that narrative through testimony from top 2016 campaign aides, Trump Organization employees and star witnesses at the center of it all. Both Cohen and porn actor Stormy Daniels took the stand to testify against Trump.

The trial captivated nonstop national attention, playing out moment by moment on cable news channels, despite no cameras being allowed inside during the proceedings. It forced Trump to spend weeks inside the gritty, wood-paneled courtroom in Lower Manhattan, further cementing his legal battles as a cornerstone of his campaign.

For several days during the trial, Trump was joined at the courthouse by political allies, including House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.); Sens. JD Vance (R-Ohio) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.); and Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).

Minutes after the verdict was read, the park across the street from the courthouse was swarmed with cameras including civilians and media seeking interviews with those gathered outside.

While several people wandered to the area, others had been camping out behind a barricade since the afternoon.

One man wearing a “freedom” shirt pretended to hang himself on a tree before a police officer told him to stop.

New Yorker Ketih Allen, 56, said he lived in the neighborhood and was “impressed” with the verdict, which he deemed the right one.

“He should’ve never been president the first time around,” Allen told The Hill of Trump’s first term. “He’s a criminal.”

Trump also faces three other sets of criminal charges. Special counsel Jack Smith indicted Trump in Florida for allegedly mishandling classified documents and in Washington, D.C., on charges of conspiring to subvert the 2020 election results. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) has also charged Trump for allegedly subverting the 2020 election in Georgia.

The verdict may be the only one of Trump’s criminal cases to go to trial before November’s election. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denies any wrongdoing in those other cases.

Updated at 8:30 p.m. EDT

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