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Former President Donald Trump leaves the courtroom earlier today at Manhattan criminal court Alamy Stock Photo

Donald Trump found guilty of all charges in landmark criminal trial

Sentencing will take place on 11 July at 10am local time.


A NEW YORK jury has convicted Donald Trump on all charges in his hush money case in a seismic development barely five months ahead of the election where he seeks to recapture the White House.

The historic first criminal trial of a former US president ended yesterday, with the 77-year-old Trump found guilty on each of the 34 charges of falsifying business records to hide a payment meant to silence porn star Stormy Daniels.

Sentencing will take place on 11 July at 10am local time.

Trump, who is all but certain to appeal, did not immediately react, but sat still, his shoulders dipping.

But outside court, Trump told waiting media he was a “very innocent man” and labelled the guilty verdict a “disgrace”.

He also claimed it was a “rigged trial” and that the “real verdict” will be delivered in the upcoming US presidential election in November.

“I’m a very innocent man, and it’s OK,” said Trump. “I’m fighting for our country. I’m fighting for our constitution.”

However, the Biden campaign has said the conviction shows that “no one is above the law”.

The Biden campaign statement added: “There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box.”

The conviction thrusts the United States into uncharted political territory but does not bar Trump from a White House run, even in the unlikely event that Judge Juan Merchan sentences him to prison time.

The verdict comes just weeks before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where Trump is due to receive the party’s formal nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden on 5 November.

The 12-member jury deliberated for more than 11 hours over two days at the end of the extraordinary five-week trial held in a drab Manhattan courtroom.

Trump was convicted of falsifying business records to reimburse his lawyer, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 (€120,000) payment to Stormy Daniels on the eve of the 2016 election, when her claim to have had sex with him could have proved politically fatal.

The trial featured lengthy testimony from the adult performer, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford and who described to the court in graphic detail what she says was a 2006 sexual encounter with the married Trump.

Prosecutors successfully laid out a case alleging that the hush money and the illegal covering up of the payment was part of a broader crime to prevent voters from knowing about Trump’s behavior.

Trump’s defence attorneys had countered that “trying to influence an election” was simply “democracy” and that the former president did nothing wrong.

The trial has distracted Trump from his campaign to unseat Biden.

However, he milked the media attention throughout, with daily speeches in front of the cameras outside the courtroom in which he complained about being a political victim.

Legal analysts who have been giving their opinions across US networks in recent weeks have noted that, while Trump could theoretically be given a lengthy prison sentence, as he has no criminal record he could end up facing a lighter penalty

Jury identities kept secret

Identities of the 12 jurors deciding the case were kept secret, a rare practice more often see in cases involving mafia or other violent defendants.

After teasing the prospect for weeks, Trump – who denied ever having sex with Daniels at a 2006 celebrity golf tournament – opted not to testify.

The Republican, who made his name as a brash real estate mogul before a stunning ascent to the nation’s highest office in the 2016 election, now faces prison or, more likely, probation.

In theory, he could face up to four years in jail for each count of falsifying business records but legal experts said as a first-time offender he is unlikely to go behind bars.

An appeal could take months to complete.

Should he win the presidency he will not be able to pardon himself, given that the case was not brought by the federal government but by the state of New York, where only the governor could clear his name.

Trump also faces federal and state charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election won by Biden, and for hoarding secret documents after leaving the White House.

Reporting by Diarmuid Pepper and © AFP 2024 

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