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Guilty on all counts, Donald Trump becomes first US president convicted of a crime

Guilty on all counts, Donald Trump becomes first US president convicted of a crime
Former U.S. President Donald Trump (C) sits in the courtroom during his civil fraud trial at New York State Supreme Court on 6 November 2023 in New York City. Trump is scheduled to testify in the civil fraud trial that alleges that he and his two sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump conspired to inflate his net worth on financial statements provided to banks and insurers to secure loans. New York Attorney General Letitia James has sued seeking $250 million in damages. His sons testified in the trial last week and his daughter Ivanka Trump is scheduled to testify on Wednesday after her lawyers were unable to block her testimony. (Photo: Jabin Botsford-Pool / Getty Images)

NEW YORK, May 30 (Reuters) - 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.

By Luc Cohen, Jack Queen and Andy Sullivan

After two days of deliberation, the 12-member jury pronounced Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts he faced.

Trump watched the jurors dispassionately as they were polled to confirm the unanimous verdict.

Justice Juan Merchan set sentencing for July 11, just days before the Republican Party is scheduled to formally nominate Trump for president ahead of the Nov. 5 election.

The crime of falsifying business documents carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison, though those convicted often receive shorter sentences, fines or probation. Incarceration would not legally prevent him from campaigning, or taking office if he were to win.

He will not be jailed ahead of sentencing.

The verdict plunges the United States into unexplored territory ahead of the November vote, when Trump will try to win back the White House from Democratic President Joe Biden.

Trump, 77, has denied wrongdoing and an attorney representing him said they would appeal as quickly as possible.

“This was a disgrace,” Trump told reporters afterwards as he proclaimed his innocence and repeated his complaints that the trial had been rigged against him.

“The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people,” he said.

Trump gave a thumbs-up sign through the tinted window of his SUV as his motorcade left the courthouse. Trump supporters stood in a park opposite the courthouse along with journalists, police and onlookers.

Opinion polls show Trump and Biden, 81, locked in a tight race, and Reuters/Ipsos polling has found that a guilty verdict could cost Trump some support among independent and Republican voters.

The case had been widely regarded as the least consequential of the four criminal prosecutions Trump faces. But the verdict looms large now as it is likely to be the only one before the election with the others delayed by procedural challenges.

The jury found Trump guilty of falsifying business documents after sitting through a five-week courtroom presentation that featured explicit testimony from porn star Stormy Daniels about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in 2006 while he was married to his current wife Melania. Trump denies ever having sex with Daniels.

Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen testified that Trump approved a $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels in the final weeks of the 2016 election, when Trump faced multiple accusations of sexual misbehavior.

Cohen testified that he handled the payment, and that Trump approved a plan to reimburse him through monthly payments disguised as legal work.

Trump’s lawyers hammered Cohen’s credibility, highlighting his criminal record and imprisonment and his history of lying. Merchan also cautioned jurors to examine his testimony carefully.

The relatively short amount of time jurors needed to reach a verdict was a sign that they thought there was enough evidence to back up Cohen’s testimony, said George Grasso, a retired New York judge who attended the trial.

A source familiar with the Trump campaign’s inner workings said the verdict was expected to prompt him to intensify deliberations on picking a woman as his vice presidential running mate. His campaign website labeled him a “political prisoner” and urged supporters to donate.

 

BIDEN CAMPAIGN: NO ONE ABOVE THE LAW

Biden’s campaign said the verdict showed that no one was above the law and urged voters to reject Trump in the election.

“There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box,” the campaign said in a statement.

The White House declined to comment.

Trump’s fellow Republicans quickly condemned the verdict. “Today is a shameful day in American history,” House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson said in a prepared statement.

The jury notified the court they had reached a verdict at 4:20 p.m. (2020 GMT) and the foreperson read out all 34 guilty counts shortly after 5 p.m.

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche asked Merchan to throw out the guilty verdict, arguing that it was based on the unreliable testimony of Cohen. Merchan denied his request.

A Trump appeal is likely to focus on porn star Daniels’ salacious testimony about their alleged sexual encounter as well as the novel legal theory prosecutors used in the case, but he faces long odds, legal experts said.

“We are going to appeal as quickly as we can. We will seek expedited review of this case,” Trump attorney Will Scharf told Fox News.

As a standalone crimefalsifying business documents is normally a misdemeanor in New York, but prosecutors in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office elevated it to a felony on grounds that Trump was concealing an illegal campaign contribution.

They had the burden of proving Trump guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard under U.S. law.

“We did our job. (There are) many voices out there. The only voice that matters is the voice of the jury, and the jury has spoken,” Bragg said.

Jurors heard testimony of sex and lies that have been public since 2018, although the charges themselves rested on ledger accounts and other records of Cohen’s reimbursement.

It was known as the “zombie case” because Bragg brought it back to life after his predecessor opted not to bring charges.

If elected, Trump could shut down the two federal cases that accuse him of illegally trying to overturn his 2020 election loss and mishandling classified documents after leaving office in 2021. He would not have the power to stop a separate election-subversion case taking place in Georgia.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in all the cases, and has portrayed his various legal troubles as an effort by Biden’s Democratic allies to hurt him politically.

 

(Reporting by Luc Cohen and Jack Queen in New York and Andy Sullivan in Washington; Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Stephanie Kelly and Kanishka Singh in Washington, Jonathan Allen in New York and Costas Pitas in Los Angeles; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Howard Goller)

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    Good. Couldn’t have happened to a nastier person. And if the crimes hadn’t happened in the first place, and the news had got out about Stormy Daniels in 2015, the world could have been a better place as Republicans might not have voted for RatPutin’s lapdog and four years of that scumbag’s ‘presidency’ avoided.

    • otto holicki says:

      Well put!

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      100%!

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      It is inconceivable that any decent person, who wants the best for themselves and their families, who has an ounce of moral gravitas and who has any self-respect could in any way support this man or vote for him, ever. The evidence against him is overwhelming, his delaying tactics evidence in and of themselves of his guilt (or at least reluctance to face an impartial court), and his whiny victimhood that he portrays are the sign of of a spineless bully who spits the dummy when he doesn’t get his own way. His casually abusive attitude towards women is mediaeval at best, a misogynist completely out of step with the 21st century and common human decency. He offers nothing but chaos and the degradation of the highest office of the land. Am I writing about Trump or Zuma?

      • Arno Stijlen says:

        Sorry my friend – we do not all agree with your statement, but you do have the right to your own opinion. Stop from watching far left media propaganda and sign into independanat media channels and Tucker Carlson for one. You will get a more unbiased opinion about the man – also focus on the facts and his various achievements whilst serving as President.

  • Guy M says:

    The danger with rallying behind this case and cheering for Trump being found guilty is this: Tell me other presidents that have served in the US are not also guilty. Also tell me the Democrats have not weaponised the judiciary.
    Put your emotions aside and see the real danger here.

  • Skinyela Skinyela says:

    A gift to the MAGA movement, from the jury.

    Trump support and sympathy will increase, especially from people who are convinced that this is a witch hunt.

  • John Roberts says:

    I am puzzled why this case is referred to as “hush money”? That is not a crime.
    Why do we get into the complexity of “influencing and election”? I thought that was the purpose of campaigning.
    He paid for a personal expense through his business and claimed it as a tax deductible expense. That is tax evasion. Nothing more needed. It is a crime. It does not matter why he did it.
    There is no need to prove a conspiracy to silence Stormy Daniels and influence voters or whether it was paid to protect his wife. It doesn’t matter if Cohen lied
    Fortunately, hidden in the founding papers and mentioned at closing was tax fraud.

  • David A says:

    Absolutely NO balanced reporting here. Just ignorant bias?? 34 charges for EXACTLY THE SAME THING – ALL CHEQUE PAYMENTS FOR LEGAL EXPENSES VIA HIS ATTORNEY , MICHAEL COHEN.

    NO OTHER GL ENTRIES FOR A HUGE BUSINESS.

    Made out to sound like multiple HUGE elements of FRAUD. Pitiful and dsgraceful.

    Trump is not perfect. Trump is first and foremost Business man not a politician. A self made billionaire – with apprent failures/losses – but a billionaire no less.

    This is NOT what it is framed to be; at the very least is TAX FRAUD. Simple.

  • Arno Stijlen says:

    Some opposing opinions here! The man is not perfect for sure and can certainly try not to be so abrupt and direct at times, but his overall leadership abilities are amazing and he puts the people of the USA and hos country first. Many people are being brainwashed by the media to oppose Trump and make him out to be a criminal. Shame on all of them! Let the crusifixsion begin!

    • Neil Parker says:

      Trump holds up a Bible and the faithful immediately anoint him as the “crucified” Messiah. Oh please! Kindly note that a United States jury decided that Trump was guilty as charged so please don’t throw out that hogwash about many people being brainwashed.

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