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Trump guilty in "hush money" trial as jury hands down verdict on felony charges

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Donald Trump found guilty in "hush money" criminal trial | Special Report 01:11:07

Former President Donald Trump was found guilty of 34 felonies by the jury in his "hush money" trial in New York on Thursday, making him the first former president in U.S. history to be convicted of a crime.

The jury, composed of 12 Manhattan residents, found that Trump illegally falsified business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. They found him guilty on all counts on their second day of deliberations.

The presumptive Republican nominee for president is now also a convicted felon, a label that will reverberate across the electorate in the months between now and Election Day in November.

Trump spoke about the verdict at Trump Tower in New York on Friday, calling the trial "very unfair," a "scam" and "rigged."

The verdict was handed down in the same Manhattan courtroom where Trump has been on trial for the past six weeks. Trump stared at each juror as they confirmed their vote to convict and angrily denounced the decision in the hallway outside the courtroom, vowing to fight the conviction.

Jurors sided with prosecutors who said that Trump authorized the plan to falsify checks and related records in an effort to prevent voters from learning of an alleged sexual encounter with Daniels. Prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office said the conspiracy spanned his 2016 campaign and continued well into his first year in the White House. Trump denied having sex with Daniels and pleaded not guilty.

Justice Juan Merchan set a sentencing date of July 11, just four days before the start of the Republican National Convention, where Trump will be formally nominated as the party's standard-bearer. He could face up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each count, but Merchan has broad discretion when imposing a sentence, and could limit the punishment to a fine, probation, home confinement or other options.

The jury asked to review several portions of testimony and the judge's instructions Thursday morning before they deliberated behind closed doors for several hours. Here's how the historic day at the courthouse unfolded, from the time the jurors alerted the court that they had reached a verdict:


What is Trump charged with?

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsification of business records in the first degree, which is a felony in New York state.

Each charge corresponds to a document that was created to pay Michael Cohen $35,000 a month in 2017: the checks themselves, the invoices Cohen sent to get reimbursed and the vouchers the Trump Organization used to record the payment. 

Prosecutors say those checks were meant to reimburse Cohen for the $130,000 "hush money" payment that he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016 in exchange for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter she said she had with Trump years earlier. Trump's defense said the payments to Cohen were to pay for his legal services. 

Trump pleaded not guilty to all counts and denied all wrongdoing.

By Stefan Becket

Jurors tell judge they have reached a verdict

In a note to the judge at 4:20 p.m., the jurors said they had reached a verdict, and asked for 30 minutes to fill out the verdict form.

By Graham Kates

Verdict came as judge was prepared to send jurors home

Just before 4:15 p.m., Merchan, the judge, said in court that he was prepared to dismiss the jurors for the day at 4:30, and have them reconvene for a third day of deliberations on Friday. Then, minutes later, he said jurors had sent a note, saying they had reached a verdict.

By Graham Kates

What happens if Trump is convicted?

When the judge found on May 6 that Trump had violated his gag order for a 10th time, he told him that "the last thing I want to do is to put you in jail."

"You are the former president of the United States and possibly the next president, as well," said Justice Juan Merchan, reflecting on the momentous weight of such a decision.

Whether to jail the Republican Party's presumptive nominee for president is a choice that Merchan may soon face again, if jurors in Trump's "hush money" case have voted to convict him

What exactly would happen if the jury finds Trump guilty is difficult to predict. Trump is being tried in New York state court, where judges have broad authority to determine when sentences are handed down after convictions and what exactly they will be, according to former Manhattan prosecutor Duncan Levin. That differs from federal court, where there's typically a waiting period between a conviction and sentencing. 

"It's much more informally done in state court. I've had cases where the jury comes back and says, 'guilty,' and the judge thanks the jury, and excuses them, and says, 'Let's sentence the defendant right now," said Levin. "Obviously, everything's a little different about this case than the typical case."

Read the full story here.

By Graham Kates

Jury enters courtroom to read verdict

Merchan is sitting with his hand over his mouth, leaning with one arm on the judges table and looking straight ahead into the courtroom. He asked court officers to bring in the jury.

"Are we ready to bring out the jury?" he asked.

No jurors appeared to look at Trump as they entered.

By Katrina Kaufman

"Guilty, guilty, guilty": Trump convicted on all counts

Former President Donald Trump listens as the foreperson of the jury in his "hush money" trial reads the verdict convicting him of 34 felony counts on Thursday, May 30, 2024.
Former President Donald Trump listens as the foreperson of the jury in his "hush money" trial reads the verdict convicting him of 34 felony counts on Thursday, May 30, 2024. Jane Rosenberg

In a process that took just minutes, the foreperson of the jury said the jurors had reached consensus on a verdict. 

One by one, the foreperson read through the verdict for each count, prompted by the court clerk: "Guilty. Guilty. Guilty." 

Each juror was asked individually if they agreed with the verdict. Trump stared directly at each one as they confirmed their decision.

By Katrina Kaufman

Judge thanks jurors for their service in "very stressful" case

After the jury was read in court, Merchan thanked the jurors for their service, noting that the court started the jury selection process on April 15.

"That's a long time to be away from your jobs, your families, your responsibilities, but not only that — you were engaged in a very stressful … task," he said. "I admire how involved you were, how engaged you were throughout this task."

He told them they're free to speak about their service, but aren't required to.

"No one can make you do anything that you don't want to do. The choice is yours," he said.

Merchan asked to meet with them in the jury room to thank them personally. He said he is not allowed to discuss the case or facts, but would also like feedback about what was done right and wrong. 

"At this time, I thank you for your service, you're excused," he said.

By Katrina Kaufman

Trump slams jury's decision as a "disgrace," vows to fight verdict

Trump spoke to reporters in the hallway outside the courtroom, reacting angrily to the jury's unanimous verdict and railing against the judge. 

"This was a disgrace. This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt," Trump said, reiterating the criticism he has leveled at the court since the trial began.

Trump reacts to guilty verdict in "hush money" trial 07:28

The presumptive GOP nominee said the case is "far from over."

"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. "We'll fight to the end."

Read more here.

By Melissa Quinn

Judge sets Trump sentencing for July 11

Before adjourning the court, Trump's lead attorney Todd Blanche said the defense would prefer a sentencing date of mid to late July.

Merchan set the sentencing date for July 11 at 10 a.m. He asked the defense to submit any motions no later than June 13, and said prosecutors must respond by June 27. 

Merchan then said the parties were excused. Trump grabbed his son Eric's hand as he exited the courtroom. 

By Olivia Rinaldi

Can Trump still become president after his felony conviction?

Trump's conviction does not disqualify him from becoming president again if he wins at the ballot box in November.

The Constitution imposes very few prerequisites for the presidency — a candidate must be at least 35 years of age, natural-born citizens and a U.S. resident for a minimum of 14 years. It says nothing about the impact of a felony conviction on a president's ability to serve. 

"The short answer is yes, that there's no constitutional bar," said Corey Brettschneider, a lawyer and professor of political science at Brown University and author of "The Presidents and the People." "The Constitution lays out some specific requirements of what's required … but there's nothing explicitly in the Constitution about being convicted of a crime as a disqualification." 

Read more here.

By Kathryn Watson

How Trump's conviction could impact the 2024 presidential race

Trump's conviction adds another layer of uncertainty to an already unprecedented presidential campaign.

As a convicted felon, Trump is not prevented from continuing to campaign for president, since the Constitution does not prohibit candidates from running for president even if they are convicted of a crime. In fact, there is precedent for a candidate running from behind bars: In 1920, Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs ran for president from a federal penitentiary in Atlanta.

Trump is the first former U.S. president to be found guilty of felonies, and the first major party candidate to run for office after being found guilty of a crime. The conviction could affect how Trump campaigns from now until November, depending on the appeals process and what kind of sentence he receives. Politically, the public's view of the trial largely split along party lines in recent polling, but the guilty verdict gives the Biden campaign a potentially potent new weapon in their arsenal.

Read more here about how the conviction could change the race for the White House.

By Olivia Rinaldi

Can a president pardon himself?

The first-ever felony conviction of a former president — and one who is again running for the office — has raised legal questions about whether a president may pardon himself. (The hypothetical doesn't apply in this case, since the charges are on the state level. But Trump also faces two outstanding federal cases.)

"The big unanswered question is whether the president might be able to pardon himself," Jeffrey Crouch, an assistant professor of American politics at American University and an expert on executive clemency. "No president has ever tried it, so we don't know what the result would be if it was attempted."

The Constitution gives the president broad power to pardon federal crimes, except in cases involving impeachment. The president also can't pardon state offenses, like the charges in New York. Apart from that, in explicit terms, the Constitution is quiet. And history and precedent don't offer significant insight, says Harvard constitutional scholar Mark Tushnet. 

"The arguments about whether a president can pardon himself are not only unsettled in the sense that they haven't come up before, but they're also unsettled in the sense that reasonable lawyers could look at the materials and say either result is legally defensible," Tushnet said. 

Read more here.

By Kathryn Watson

White House spokesman issues brief statement: "We respect the rule of law"

Ian Sams, a spokesperson in the White House Counsel's Office, issued a brief statement in response to the verdict: "We respect the rule of law, and have no additional comment."

By Stefan Becket

Court releases verdict sheet showing decision on all charges

The court published the sheet that the foreperson of the jury filled out detailing the verdict. Each page includes the signature of prosecutor Joshua Steinglass and defense attorney Emil Bove:

Trump verdict sheet by Stefan Becket on Scribd
By Graham Kates

Congressional Republicans stick by Trump, call his conviction a "travesty of justice"

Republicans derided the verdict in Trump's New York "hush money" criminal trial, sticking by their presumptive nominee for president and claiming bias by the judge — and the jury — against the former president as he was found guilty on all 34 felony counts.

"Today is a shameful day in American history," Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement. "This was a purely political exercise, not a legal one."

Read more here.

By Kaia Hubbard

Bragg won't say whether he'll seek prison sentence for Trump

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg reflects on Trump verdict 09:23

Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg said at a news conference Thursday evening that the only voice that mattered in this case was that of the jury, which he praised as "careful and attentive" in its consideration of the case against the former president. 

Bragg declined to say whether he'd recommend a sentence for Trump. Sentencing is July 11, he noted, saying the D.A.'s office would speak in court and through its court filings.

"While this defendant may be unlike any other in American history, we arrived at this trial and ultimately today at this verdict in the same manner as every other case that comes through the courtroom doors," Bragg said.

Responding to criticism from Trump's supporters, Bragg said the "only voice that matters is the voice of the jury, and the jury has spoken." 

By Kathryn Watson

Biden campaign warns Trump can still become president, "convicted felon or not"

The Biden campaign warned that former Trump's conviction doesn't prevent him from winning another term in the White House from a legal standpoint

"There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box. Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president," the campaign's communications director Michael Tyler said in a statement.

Tyler said the verdict shows "no one is above the law," but it also "does not change the fact that the American people face a simple reality." 

"The threat Trump poses to our democracy has never been greater. He is running an increasingly unhinged campaign of revenge and retribution, pledging to be a dictator 'on day one' and calling for our Constitution to be 'terminated' so he can regain and keep power," the statement said. "A second Trump term means chaos, ripping away Americans' freedoms and fomenting political violence — and the American people will reject it this November."

Read more here.

By Caitlin Yilek

Trump campaign says fundraising site was overwhelmed by response after conviction

Trump was quick to seize on his conviction for fundraising purposes, sending a text that read, "I was just convicted in a rigged trial! I am a political prisoner!" But soon afterward, the link to donate was no longer working. Trump campaign senior adviser Brian Hughes confirmed that the campaign's fundraising system had been almost immediately overwhelmed by the response.

"From just minutes after the verdict, the digital fundraising system has been hit with record numbers of supporters," Hughes said in a statement. "The traffic is so large that it is causing intermittent delays." 

He added that the campaign was "grateful for this massive outpouring of support because it shows that Americans have seen this sham trial as the political election interference that Biden and Democrats have always intended."

The former president was convicted in New York in a state case without federal involvement. 

By Olivia Rinaldi
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