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Trump found guilty on all counts: 5 takeaways from the verdict

(The Hill) – Twelve New York jurors made history on Thursday when they convicted former President Trump on all counts in his hush money trial

Trump is the first former president to be convicted of a felony — or, in his case, multiple felonies. He was found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records in a case revolving around a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

The verdict came faster than many legal observers expected, given the complexity of the case and hard questions over the credibility of the prosecution’s main witness, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. 

The emphatic nature of the verdict is a powerful vindication for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D), whose judgment was widely questioned when he first brought the case.

Emerging from court, Trump attacked the case as a “disgrace.” He also accused Judge Juan Merchan, who presided over proceedings, of being “corrupt” and “conflicted.”

Trump remains all but certain to be crowned as the GOP’s presidential nominee at his party’s national convention in July.

Here are the big takeaways from a dramatic day.

Historic verdict deals blow to Trump

Slice and dice it however you like, a guilty verdict is a blow to Trump.

A man who has spent much of his adult life burnishing his image now stands as a convicted felon. He faces at least the theoretical possibility of jail time, though most first-time offenders found guilty on similar charges are not incarcerated.

Politically, the verdict hands President Biden and his Democratic allies a weapon that they badly needed. Biden, who has been trailing in battleground state polls, can now argue the American people must not vote for a criminal as president.

Moments after the verdict, Biden campaign communications director Michael Tyler said the verdict proved “no one is above the law.”

Tyler contended that Trump “has always mistakenly believed he would never face consequences for breaking the law” but also asserted that “there is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box.”

Biden himself is not expected to speak about the verdict immediately.

To be sure, the hurdle that the verdict erects for Trump is surmountable, both legally and politically. Legally, he is widely expected to appeal. Politically, the verdict could damage him but is unlikely to force an instant sea change.

Still: Trump is a convict. It’s not a good thing.

MAGA pushes back hard

Trump led the charge against the verdict and the judge.

But he had plenty of allies helping him push back.

His eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., wrote on social media that Democrats had “succeeded in their years-long attempt to turn America into a third-word s—hole,” and said that Election Day would be “our last chance to save it.”

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said Thursday was “a shameful day in American history,” predicted that the American people would view the verdict as “dangerous” and forecast that Trump would emerge victorious on appeal.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called the verdict “a complete travesty.”

There was much more in a similar vein, underscoring just how firmly Trump holds the GOP in his grasp.

Among the voting public, Trump’s most fervent loyalists — who have stood with him through an abundance of furors, including the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot — will only rev up their support. A flood of donations is expected to his campaign.

The big question is what happens to the small sliver of “soft” Trump support.

An Economist/YouGov poll released the day before the verdict asked whether people thought the investigation that underpinned the hush-money case was fair or unfair.

Seventy-two percent of surveyed Republicans said it was unfair. But 12 percent said it was fair, and 16 percent said they weren’t sure.

How do they react to Thursday’s verdict? No one really knows the answer.

Trump’s fate rests in Merchan’s hands

Trump’s sentencing is set for July 11. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

It would stun the world if Trump received the maximum sentence.

But the surreal reality is that Trump’s fate now rests in the hands of a judge against whom he has made repeated verbal attacks.

Trump has also lashed out at Merchan’s daughter, Loren, for her work with a Democratic consulting firm.

Merchan would no doubt assert he can mete out an appropriate sentence unaffected by personal animus.  

Beyond the fact that jail time is unusual for people convicted on the same charge as Trump, there are logistical complications around how a former president — entitled to Secret Service protection — would serve any term of incarceration.

Still, New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) earlier this month said that the authorities who manage the notorious Rikers Island prison would be “ready” if Trump were indeed sentenced.

Verdict shakes up election calendar

An election campaign that had been somewhat dreary — two aging candidates, well known to the public and with mediocre approval ratings — just got a massive jolt.

The conviction itself delivers part of the shock. But the election’s timeline also got a massive shake-up.

Biden and Trump recently agreed to an unusually early televised debate: a CNN-hosted clash in Atlanta on June 27.

That is two weeks exactly before Trump’s sentencing date.

The sentencing in turn, is right up against the Republican National Convention, which will take place in Milwaukee. The convention begins on July 15.

In other words, Trump will be sentenced on a Thursday with the event officially crowning him as the GOP’s nominee starting the following Monday.

Trump won’t lose the right to vote — unless he’s imprisoned.

One of many questions that lit up social media in the wake of the verdict was whether Trump, as a felon, would be barred from voting in this year’s presidential election.

The answer appears to be no — unless he goes to prison.

Trump changed his official residency from New York to Florida in 2019.

A guide prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on voting with a criminal record in Florida notes that a person convicted outside of the Sunshine State has their voting rights “governed by the state where you were convicted.”

In Trump’s case, that throws the matter back to New York, where — again, according to the ACLU — a person convicted of a felony can vote unless they were sentenced to prison and are still serving their sentence.

The question appears to be ultimately governed by whether the person in question is in prison on Election Day itself.

So, Trump likely will be able to vote for himself as president of the United States — unless he’s sitting in a cell at the time.

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