Trump calls trial a ‘scam,’ vows to appeal historic conviction

Trump calls trial a 'scam,' vows to appeal historic conviction
Donald Trump says he will appeal, setting off a long legal journey.

New York, United States | By Michael Wandati | Former U.S. President Donald Trump, during a rambling news conference in New York on Friday, vowed to appeal the guilty verdict against him on all 34 counts in the hush money trial, calling it a “scam.”

Donald Trump having announced his intention to appeal the guilty verdict, has made him the first U.S. President to be convicted of a crime. However, he must wait until after his sentencing on July 11 to initiate the appeal process.

Speaking in the Trump Tower lobby in Manhattan—the same location where he announced his first presidential campaign in 2015—Trump reiterated his grievances, claiming that the trial was a deliberate attempt to derail his bid for the White House. He also warned that the verdict illustrated how any American could fall victim to politically motivated prosecution.

“If they can do this to me, they can do this to anyone,” Trump said in an unscripted 33-minute speech. Applauded by supporters, Trump, the Republican candidate in the 2024 election took no questions from reporters.

Former president Donald Trump walks off after speaking at a news conference from the lobby of Trump Tower in New York on Friday 31, May 2024, vowing to appeal the guilty verdict. COURTESY PHOTO.

Thursday’s guilty verdict has thrust the United States into uncharted waters ahead of the November 5 election, in which 77-year-old Donald Trump aims to reclaim the presidency from the current Democratic President Joe Biden, 81.

On Thursday, a New York jury found Trump guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal a hush money payment to an adult-film actress, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. Typically, those convicted of this crime receive shorter sentences, fines, or probation.

However, Trump’s public criticism of jurors and witnesses during the trial, which led Justice Juan Merchan to impose a $10,000 fine, might result in a harsher sentence, according to Rebecca Roiphe, a former New York prosecutor.

Any sentence would likely be suspended pending the appeals process. House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson, a close ally of Trump, predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court would ultimately overturn the verdict.

“I think they’ll set this straight, but it’s going to take a while,” he said on Fox News.

Incarceration would not prevent Trump from campaigning or assuming office if he were to win.

Trump’s sentencing on July 11 comes just days before the Republican Party is set to formally nominate him as its presidential candidate at the convention in Milwaukee.

Trump was found guilty of 34 criminal counts for falsifying documents to cover up a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, aimed at illegally influencing the outcome of the 2016 election in which he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

In addition to this case, Trump faces three other criminal prosecutions—two related to his efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat. However, the New York verdict might be the only one resolved before the upcoming election, as the other cases are bogged down in legal proceedings. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all four cases, claiming they are politically motivated.

A source familiar with his campaign’s inner workings indicated that the verdict might lead Trump to intensify his deliberations on selecting a woman as his vice presidential running mate.

Partisan divisions

Democratic lawmakers stated that the verdict demonstrated that no one is above the law. Meanwhile, many Republicans supported Trump’s claims that the prosecutions were politically motivated efforts to prevent his return to power.

National opinion polls indicate that Trump is in a close race with Biden. An April Reuters/Ipsos poll revealed that one in four Republican respondents would not vote for Trump if he were convicted of a felony by a jury.

Strategists from both parties expressed doubt about whether the verdict would significantly impact the election.

On pro-Trump online platforms, some supporters called for riots, revolution, and violent retribution.

In the battleground state of Georgia, retiree Wendell Hill, 65, said the verdict would not deter him from supporting Trump.

“It is all politicized. I still don’t understand what crime he’s supposed to have committed,” he said as he set up chairs for a concert in downtown Marietta.

Carol Cuba, 77, a longtime Republican voter, said she was disgusted with Trump.

“For the first time in my life I’m thinking about voting on the dark side,” she said referring to the Democrats.

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Trump’s campaign reported raising $35 million from small donors following the verdict, nearly doubling its previous daily record. Despite the conviction, several major Republican donors stated they would continue to support Trump’s campaign financially.

President Biden encouraged Americans to vote against Trump in the upcoming November election.

“There’s only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: At the ballot box,” he said on social media after the verdict.

Explicit testimony

The jury convicted Trump of falsifying business documents after a trial that included explicit testimony from Stormy Daniels about a sexual encounter she claims occurred in 2006 while Trump was married to his current wife, Melania. Trump denies having any sexual relations with Daniels.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer and lawyer, testified that Trump authorized a $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels during the final weeks of the 2016 election, a time when Trump faced multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. Cohen stated that he managed the payment and that Trump approved a plan to reimburse him through monthly payments disguised as legal fees.

In New York, falsifying business documents is typically a misdemeanor. However, prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office elevated the charge to a felony, arguing that Trump was concealing an illegal campaign contribution.

If elected, Trump could potentially shut down the two federal cases accusing him of illegally attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss and mishandling classified documents after leaving office in 2021. However, he would not have the authority to halt a separate election-subversion case in Georgia.