Friday, May 31, 2024

Twelve Manhattan jurors (and one brave judge) strike a victory for justice as Donald Trump is found guilty on all 34 counts in historic New York hush-money trial

Donald Trump Guilty on all counts (Getty)

Most stories written about Donald Trump in recent years, use these two words -- "former president" -- to help describe him. After yesterday's verdict in Trump's New York hush-money case, two more words -- "convicted felon" -- will almost certainly be used to describe him in future published works.Until Trump came along, Americans had no experience with a former president facing criminal charges, much less being convicted on all 34 felony counts against him. Many of us probably never dreamed that such a thing could happen, until the Republican Party decided to jump in bed with Trump, long known as a glorified con man and grifter, Now, thanks to 12 brave jurors (and one brave judge) the whole sleazy house of cards has fallen down around both the party and its sketchy candidate.

Americans undoubtedly have many questions about this unprecedented turn of events. And Trump's situation, of course, is complicated by the fact he is both a "former president" and a "wannabe future president," running against Democratic incumbent Joe Biden in the 2024 election, set for Nov. 5. With that in mind, the No. 1 question across the country today likely is: "What happens now?"

Rolling Stone (RS) magazine has done a top-notch job of answering that question, and addressing related issues. The original RS piece is under the headline "Donald Trump is Now a Convicted Felon." That version of the story is behind a paywall and probably is not accessible to many of our readers. But a free version is available at Yahoo! under the headline "Trump Has Been Convicted in His Hush-Money Case. Now What?" Answers to many of the questions percolating in American minds can be found there. Let's take a look. Reporters

A jury on Thursday found Donald Trump guilty on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records stemming from a payment to keep adult film actress Stormy Daniels quiet about an alleged affair before the 2016 election. Such a verdict is unprecedented, just as it was unprecedented when the former president first stood criminal trial in April, and just as it was unprecedented last spring when Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged him with falsifying business records.

The indictment from Bragg was the first of four that have been leveled against Trump, and almost certainly the only one that will head to trial before the election. It would also be unprecedented, of course, for a major-party nominee for the nation’s highest office to be a convicted felon. There’s a good chance this will in fact be the case this year, and that you might have a few questions about what it means for the election and beyond.

Can Trump still run for president?

Yes. The only requirements to run for president are being 35 or older, being a natural-born citizen, and being a resident of the United States for 14 years. The nation’s founders did not stipulate that Americans convicted of felonies related to paying a porn star to keep quiet about an alleged affair cannot run for president.

Can Trump vote for president?

Probably. Trump is registered to vote in Florida, and convicted felons can only vote in Florida after they’ve completed their sentence — which could mean serving time or simply paying a fine. Trump is unlikely to have completed his sentence by election time for a variety of reasons.

Trump wasn’t convicted in Florida, though, and Florida honors the voting eligibility laws of the state where the conviction occurs. New York only prohibits felons from voting when they are incarcerated, so unless Trump is behind bars on election day — which is unlikely — he’ll probably be able to vote for himself in the Sunshine State.

Will Trump go to prison?

Maybe down the road, but it’s unlikely Trump will wind up behind bars as a result of a guilty conviction in his hush-money case. Yes, he is now a convicted felon, but they’re lower-level felonies and Trump has no previous criminal convictions, which means probation and/or a fine might be the more likely punishment.

Nevertheless, it’s up to Judge Juan Merchan — who has already threatened to jail Trump for violating his gag order — and each of the 34 charges carries a maximum four-year prison sentence and $5,000 fine. It may be unusual for a conviction on these charges alone of someone with a clear record to result in prison time, but nothing about this case is usual.

It might be a while before punishment is meted out, however, as the former president’s legal team — which argues he could never receive a fair trial in New York City and that the prosecution was politically driven — is standing at the ready to rush into the appeals process, which could be lengthy.

For now, however, sentencing has been set for July 11, days before the Republican National Convention kicks off in Milwaukee.

But what if he does go to prison?

Just as there’s nothing in the rule book stating that a dog can’t play basketball, there’s nothing in the Constitution saying someone in prison can’t be elected president.

Trump might not have much recourse if he loses in November, but if he wins there are a number of ways he could leverage the federal government to keep himself out of prison. The Justice Department cases would be easy; he could just tell his hand-picked attorney general to toss them. The state cases are more difficult — as Rolling Stone reported last week, he’s currently lobbying Congress to pass a law that would protect the president from non-federal prosecution.

Is Trump planning to take revenge?

Trump has long teased that he will weaponize the Justice Department against his political enemies if he wins back the White House, and Rolling Stone reported last year that his team has already trained its crosshairs on Bragg. Their sights have continued to focus on the Manhattan district attorney as the case has progressed.

“Mark my word: Alvin Bragg, [prosecutor] Matthew Colangelo, and many others will face criminal prosecution,” Mike Davis, a lawyer and Trump ally, posted to X, formerly Twitter, in early May. (Members of Trump’s inner sanctum have frequently discussed Davis as a top contender for senior roles, including at the Justice Department, in a possible second Trump administration.)

Davis’ words reflect a pervasive desire among the MAGA and GOP elite to go after those responsible for Trump’s legal woes, with an array of attorneys and other Republicans close to Trump drawing up preliminary plans for different ways that the Justice Department could investigate or charge Bragg and other prosecutors who’ve brought cases against the ex-president, numerous sources tell Rolling Stone. Since last year, lawyers and others with Trump’s ear have privately briefed him — sometimes during parties at his club and estate — on these retributive legal ideas, with Trump at times offering enthusiastic praise in response, sources add. In some instances, Trump has solicited more ideas. These discussions have continued well into 2024.

Among the ideas batted about by MAGA’s legal brain trust, at times when Trump himself has been in the room, include the Justice Department deploying federal statutes, including Section 242 and Section 241 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, to investigate or prosecute Bragg for allegedly violating Trump’s constitutional and civil rights.

Another popular idea in the upper echelons of Trumpland is for the Justice Department to criminally charge Bragg and other prosecutors for so-called “election interference.” This would exploit a different part of the criminal code that prohibits officials from using their “authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate for the office of president.”

In April 2023, Trump, in front of a cheering crowd, gave another reason when he publicly called for the district attorney to be prosecuted, claiming Bragg “illegally leaked massive amounts” of grand-jury information.

But when confronted with this in a Time magazine interview this year, Trump tried to say he never called for Bragg’s prosecution, even though Trump did so on camera and in front of an audience.

How will Trump respond publicly?

The same way he’s been responding to the trial itself, by alleging that the case is part of a political conspiracy orchestrated by President Joe Biden to hurt Trump’s chances of defeating him in November. Trump has already been fundraising aggressively off his indictments — including by splashing his mugshot in Georgia across merchandise — and he will continue to do so if he is convicted in New York.

Advisers and allies close to Trump are convinced that the Manhattan jury pool won’t be kind to Trump, and many of the former president’s aides, lawyers, and political collaborators have long viewed a conviction as a foregone conclusion. They have been preparing accordingly.

Namely, his 2024 campaign has prebaked an aggressive fundraising blitz that will give him ample opportunity to scream “WITCH HUNT,” “ELECTION INTERFERENCE,” and all of the other tag lines he’s used to paint himself as a victim.


Anonymous said...

Why don’t you ever report on these stories? There are plenty of them, yet you never mention them. Why is that? It seems you have a very one-sided agenda. Isn’t it true that Joe Niden was lying about the over 4 million dollars his son received from China and Ukraine to “influence the election? ‘.

Anonymous said...

Which is worse from the standpoint of a threat to America…..a politician who tries to hide allegations of an extra marital affair, or a politician who lies about family members receiving multiple millions of dollars from foreign interests, especially from countries like China.

legalschnauzer said...

@8:10 - What stories are you talking about? You don't say. This should be obvious, but I'll make it clear. Legal Schnauzer is a blog, with a point of view - mine. My blog makes it clear I'm a Democrat/Libtard/progressive, and I write from that perspective. If you want a right-wing site or a middle of the road newspaper type of site, there are plenty out there. I would suggest you give them a try. If you are here thinking you are going to influence editorial decisions, you are at the wrong place. I make the editorial decisions here, and if you don't like them, go to Steve Bannon's website or Newsmax, or whatever. Why do I focus on Donald Trump's wrongdoing? He is cognitively unwell, unfit to serve, was a disaster in his first term, wants to overturn our democracy and usher in an authoritarian form of government - and he's the first former president to be charged with, and convicted of, a crime. He admits that he plans to act outside the constitution and the rule of law. Biden is doing a good job as president, and historians rank him No. 14 best president of al time. He provides a steady hand at the ship, but Trump, and his nutty followers (and the inept GOP) are the much bigger story now. If you want to support a felon, have it. As for me, I wil never support Trump or any other felon.

legalschnauzer said...

&8:15 - Someone's family members have received multiple millions of dollars from foreign interests? Who is that?

Anonymous said...

See the above video link.

legalschnauzer said...

@5:30 - I'm not interested in a video link. I'm asking you directly: Who are you talking about? That should be an easy question to answer.

Anonymous said...

The video is of Jake Tapper of CNN acknowledging that Hunter Biden received over Four million dollars from China and Ukraine even though Joe Biden had vehemently denied that in the 2020 debates.

Anyway, my point is that politicians in both parties are for the most part lying and hypocritical thieves. Not really trying to defend Trump. Just noting that politics in general is a sleazy business.

legalschnauzer said...

@7:23 -- I don't get your point. Your first two or three comments clearly referenced Trump's trial and hinted that his wrongdoing was less damaging than Biden's alleged wrongdoing. How, you say your point was to show politics is a sleazy business. That's not exactly breaking news, so what is your point? A few questions come to mind: (1) What does it mean that Jake Tapper "acknowledged" that Hunter Biden supposedly did something wrong. If Jake Tapper "reported" that, backed up by documents and statements from those familiar with the case, that could be a major story. But Jake Tapper "acknowledges" something? I don't see how that proves anything; (2) As for Joe Biden denying in a debate that Hunter Biden engaged in supposed wrongdoing, maybe Joe Biden denied it because he wasn't involved and knew nothing about it. A lot of things can explain such a reaction; (3) I'm still confused about your point. Do you care to enlighten my readers and me on that? You certainly sound like a Republican and Trump supporter. Do you acknowledge that is the case? That's your choice, but you've been going around in circles, it seems to me.

Anonymous said...

If you had viewed the link, you would have seen that,according to Tapper, Hunter has admitted in court to receiving over $4,000,000 from China and Ukraine. Do I consider that a huge red flag…..yes. There is plenty of evidence that Joe was aware of Hunter’s business dealings. You can research that yourself. I’m going to bed😀

legalschnauzer said...

@ 9:04 -- Two things:

(1) Now you say Tapper said Hunter Biden admitted in court to receiving money from China and Ukraine. In what court? And where is a link to a news story about this?

(2) The only red flag I see is that you smell like a con man, and I haven't fallen for your con, so you are pizzed. Feel free to prove you aren't a con man, but I don't think you have the stones to do it.

(3) You say there is "plenty of evidence" that Joe Biden knew about Hunter's business dealings, but you provide no evidence, and you try to shrug the research off on me. Not gonna happen.

(4) You brought up the subject, so you do the research. Meanwhile, any credibility you might have had is swirling down the drain. Just as I expected.