FIRST EX PRESIDENT IN AMERICAN HISTORY TO BE CONVICTED OF A FELONY

Heather Cox Richardson

After slightly less than ten hours of deliberation, a jury today found former president Donald J. Trump guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records in order to unlawfully influence the 2016 election.

For the first time in our history, a former president of the United States is a convicted felon.

For the first time in our history, a former president of the United States has been convicted of committing crimes to steal an election. 

Republican senators could have convicted Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors in 2019. In that year, the House impeached Trump after he tried to rig the 2020 presidential election by withholding congressionally appropriated funds to support Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s 2014 invasion. He withheld the funds to try to force Ukraine president Volodomyr Zelensky to manufacture dirt on Democrat Joe Biden.

Republican senators could have convicted Trump, but they acquitted him.

Republican senators could have convicted Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors in 2021. In that year, the House impeached him after he tried to seize the presidency by instigating an attack on the U.S. Capitol and trying to rig the count of the electoral vote after Americans had elected Democrat Joe Biden. 

Republican senators could have convicted Trump, but they acquitted him.

Today, twelve ordinary Americans did what Republican senators refused to do. They protected the rule of law and held Trump accountable for his attempt to rig an election.

Trump stared blankly ahead as the verdict was read. “Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.” 

Trump has managed to escape accountability from the political system, but in a court of law, where prosecutors brought facts, witnesses were under oath, and jurors did not need him to keep them in positions of power, he lost.

And so he continued his assault on the rule of law. MAGA lawmakers, including House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), both of whom were involved in the events of January 6, 2021, joined him in attacking the system that produced the guilty verdicts, although they steered clear of defending Trump himself.

After the verdict, Trump turned back to politics. He went directly to the television cameras outside the courtroom, where he gave his usual speech, saying the trial was rigged, he was “a very innocent man,” and that “our country has gone to hell.” Within four minutes of the verdict, his campaign posted a fundraising pitch on social media, proclaiming, “I am a political prisoner!” 

Trump has repeatedly urged his supporters to defend him with violence, but there was none reported. In some cities, there was cheering. Shares in Trump media fell sharply in after-hours trading.

Judge Juan Merchan will sentence Trump at 10:00 in the morning of July 11, four days before the Republican National Convention begins. 

A spokesperson for the White House said: “We respect the rule of law, and have no additional comment.”

Tonight, for the first time in our history, a former president of the United States is a convicted felon.

Notes:

https://www.cnbc.com/2024/05/30/djt-stock-falls-donald-trump-found-guilty-on-34-counts.html
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/us/politics/2024/05/30/donald-trump-verdict-live-hush-money/
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/article/2024/may/30/trump-hush-money-trial-verdict-new-yorkers-react

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