Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Donald Trump found guilty in historic New York hush money case

By 37ci3 May31,2024

A New York jury was impaneled Thursday Donald Trump pleaded guilty to all 34 counts of falsifying business records – the first time a former US president has been convicted of a crime.

The jury has made its decision historical event after 9½ hours of deliberations that began Wednesday.

He will rule on July 11, four days before the Republican National Convention. Punishment awaits him Although each count carries a fine of up to four years in prison, he is expected to serve the charges concurrently rather than consecutively.

Follow live updates here.

“It was a disgrace. It was a sham trial by a corrupt, conflicted judge,” Trump told reporters afterward.

The verdict was read in the Manhattan courtroom where Trump was present is judged From April 15. He was he pleaded not guilty 34 false business records related to former attorney Michael Cohen’s hush money payments to adult movie star Stormi Daniels in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential election.

As the jury foreman read the word “guilty” on each count, Trump looked down, eyes closed.

The judge thanked the jurors for their service during the weeks-long trial. “You have given this case the attention it deserves, and for that I want to thank you,” Judge Juan Merchan told them. Trump was seen scowling at the jurors who passed him as he left the courtroom.

After the jury left the room, Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanch, asked for an acquittal, which the judge refused.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg did not comment on what type of sentence he might seek, saying his office would speak in court filings.

“While this defendant may be unlike any other in American history, we arrived at this trial and ultimately this verdict today, as we do in every case that comes before the courtroom door – by following the facts and the law in doing so. without fear or favour,” Bragg said. Bragg, who was bombarded with threats from Trump supporters during the investigation, said: “I did my job. We did our job,” he said.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, immediately began raising money from the news, posting on his website that he was a “political prisoner” and urging his followers to donate money.

Legal experts told NBC News that even if Trump is sentenced to time behind bars, he will likely be allowed to stay out of jail while he appeals the sentence, a process that could take months or longer. That means the ruling likely won’t interfere with the Republicans’ ability to accept the presidential nomination at the convention in July.

And it probably won’t affect his ability to get elected. “There are no qualifications other than those in the Constitution,” said Chuck Rosenberg, former US attorney and NBC News & MSNBC Legal Analyst. said after Thursday’s verdict.

President Joe Biden’s campaign praised the verdict in a statement, but stressed that Trump should be defeated in November.

“Today in New York we saw that no one is above the law,” said Michael Tyler, the campaign’s communications director, but “the ruling does not change the fact that the American people are facing a simple reality. There is still one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box.”

In his closing argument this week, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told jurors that “the law is the law and it applies equally to everyone. There is no special standard for this defendant.”

“You, the jury, have the ability to hold the defendant accountable,” Steinglass said.

Trump claimed that the DA’s office had no business and no crime. “President Trump is innocent. He committed no crime,” Blanch said in a closing statement, arguing that the payments to Cohen were legal.

Prosecutors said the masked payment to Cohen was “part of a long-planned, coordinated conspiracy to influence the 2016 election, help elect Donald Trump through illegal spending, and silence people who say anything bad about his behavior.” corporate records and bank forms to hide these payments along the way.

“It was election fraud. Pure and simple,” prosecutor Matthew Colangelo said in his opening statement.

Although Trump has not been charged with conspiracy, prosecutors argued that he caused the falsification of records because he was trying to cover up a violation of state election law — and that falsifying business records to cover up another crime raises a felony above a misdemeanor. crime

Trump was convicted after a sensational weeklong trial that included combative testimony from Trump’s self-described former fixer, Cohen, and Daniels, who testified that he had sex with her after meeting her at a celebrity golf tournament in 2006. Trump rejected his claim and his lawyer suggested that Cohen act alone because he thought it would make the “boss” happy.

Other witnesses include former White House staffers, including adviser Hope Hicks, former Trump Organization executives and former National Enquirer publisher David Packer.

Trump did not take the witness stand to give his account of what happened, even though he announced before the trial that he would “absolutely” testify. The defense’s key witness was attorney Robert Costello, whom Cohen considered retaining in 2018. Costello, who testified that Cohen told him Trump had nothing to do with Daniels’ payment, angered Mercha by making disrespectful comments and making faces on the stand. At one point, the judge cleared the courtroom during Costello’s testimony and threatened him with contempt.

Cohen testified that he lied to Costello because he didn’t trust him and that he lied to others about Trump’s involvement at the time because he wanted to protect his former boss.

Cohen was the only witness to testify about Trump’s direct involvement in the $130,000 payment and subsequent compensation plan. Blanche challenged her credibility for days, getting Cohen to confess under oath that he had a history of lying.

Cohen said Daniels was paid cash in a series of payments from Trump throughout 2017, which he characterized as payments under a retainer agreement for the Trump Organization “for legal services rendered.”

Prosecutors said there was no such deal and Cohen’s version of events was supported by documentary evidence and witness statements.

Blanch argued that a series of checks paid to Cohen by then-President Trump in 2017 “were not for Mr. Cohen in return for the money he gave to Ms. Daniels,” and that he was being paid for his legal work as Trump’s personal attorney.

Testimony from Jeff McConney, a former senior vice president at Trump’s company, disputed that position. McConney said the company’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, told him Cohen was compensated for the $130,000 payment, and prosecutors entered into evidence Weisselberg’s handwritten notes on the payment formula. Cohen said Trump agreed to a deal in a meeting with him and Weisselberg days before his inauguration as the 45th president.

Weisselberg did not testify. He is in jail on perjury charges related to testimony he gave in the civil fraud case against Trump and his company by New York Attorney General Letitia James. According to Cohen, McConney and other witnesses, Weisselberg, who has worked for Trump for decades, has always tried to get his approval for large expenditures.

In total, the prosecution called 20 witnesses, and the defense called two.

Trump has often falsely claimed that the allegations against him were a political fabrication orchestrated by Biden to remove him from the campaign. But Trump was eventually able to bring the campaign into the courtroom, including hosting Speaker of the House Mike Johnson of Louisiana and Sens. JD Vance of Ohio and Rick Scott of Florida as court guests. Trump also used court breaks to deliver political messages to supporters, while his surrogates evaded Merchan’s gag order by attacking witnesses, individual prosecutors and Merchan’s daughter.

Merchan fined Trump $10,000 during the trial for violating the order, including the attacks on Cohen and Daniels, and warned that he could be arrested if he continued to violate the order.

Cohen noted the ruling in an op-ed in X. “Today is an important day for accountability and the rule of law. While this has been a difficult journey for me and my family, the truth is always important,” Cohen wrote.

Trump was indicted last March after a years-long investigation by Bragg and his predecessor, Cyrus Vance. The charges are the first to be brought against the former president, although Trump has since been charged and pleaded not guilty in three other cases. None of the three — the federal election meddling case in Washington, the state election meddling case in Georgia and the federal case involving his mishandling of classified documents and national security information — are likely to go to trial before the Nov. 5 presidential election.

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