DemDaily: Conspiracy, Conviction, Accountability

June 3, 2024

In the aftermath of the 34-count conviction of former President Donald Trump on Friday, the world is speculating about what happens next.

The twice-impeached former president, the first in US history to be tried and convicted of a felony, was found guilty by a Manhattan jury on all counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree in an illegal conspiracy to cover up hush money payments to an adult film star ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Spontaneous cheers reverberated throughout much of the country following the unanimous verdict, while enraged Trump supporters flooded pro-MAGA websites with calls for riots, revolution and violent retribution, as well as attacks on jurors and the execution of presiding Justice Juan Merchan.

While the trial phase may have concluded, the legal fight is far from over. Sentencing has been set for July 11, just four days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and GOP leadership is determined to nominate Trump, even if his acceptance speech is delivered from a jail cell.

Trump, who is charged in three other criminal cases, continues to campaign for the presidency. It is possible, but unlikely, that the cases -- two federal proceedings related to mishandling classified documents and subverting the 2020 election, and a Georgia lawsuit alleging a broad racketeering scheme to capture the state's 2020 electoral votes -- will not go to trial before the election.

"This verdict in the case of People v Trump was a validation of the American judicial system. Donald Trump was entitled to the presumption of innocence, he received it. Donald Trump was entitled to a trial by a jury of his peers, he received it. Donald Trump was entitled to a vigorous defense, he received it. Twelve jurists, twelve American citizens, after five weeks of a trial, evaluated the facts, the evidence, and the law, and came to a unanimous decision as it relates to convicting Donald Trump on thirty-four felony counts...This is America. We are not a system that is occupied by a monarch or a king or a dictator. We are a democracy and in a democracy, no one is above the law." - House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries

What Next?

 

Appeal: Trump will have his first opportunity to contest the verdict within 30 days following his July 11 sentencing. The appeal will be filed with the First Judicial Department appellate court in New York -- frequently referred to as "the 13th juror" for its vast discretion in reviewing jury verdicts.

Presentencing Investigation: Trump must undergo a presentencing investigation by the New York City Department of Probation, which is charged with preparing a report for Judge Merchan. Professional staff, including a psychologist, will interview Trump extensively about his personal and professional history, financial records, divorces, criminal record and other factors that may influence the severity or ease of the punishment.

Sentence: The sentence might include incarceration, probation, fines and/or community service.

Trump's violation of the gag order -- ten times during the trial -- could be used to justify or enforce a harsher sentence. In New York, Trump's offense of fabricating company records is considered a "Class E" felony. The maximum term for each of Trump's felonies is four years which, if imposed consecutively, would mean Trump could face a 136-year prison term.

Legally, this conviction has a significant effect on all of Trump’s other criminal and civil cases. Should Trump take the stand to testify in any case, opposing lawyers will be able to attack his credibility with this conviction.

Trump's Vote: Despite his felony convictions, Trump will be able to vote in his home state of Florida as long as he remains out of prison in New York. In 2018, Florida voters enacted a state constitutional amendment that allowed felons to obtain their right to vote, provided they paid all fees, fines, and court costs.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has said he will ensure Trump can vote in November.

Standing: Neither the conviction nor imprisonment bar Trump from continuing his pursuit of the White House.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted May 30-31, 10% of registered Republican voters say they are less likely to vote for Donald Trump following his felony conviction for falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment to a porn star. (MOE: +/- 2.1%)

Polling: The two-day poll, conducted in the hours after the Republican presidential candidate's conviction by a Manhattan jury on Thursday, also found that 56% of registered Republican voters said the case would have no effect on their vote and 35% said they were more likely to support Trump.

Among registered independent voters, 25% said Trump's conviction made them less likely to support him in November, compared to 18% who said they were more likely and 56% who said the conviction would have no impact on their decision.

Biden and Trump remain locked in a tight race, with 41% of voters saying they would vote for Biden if the election were held today and 39% saying they would pick Trump.

Related: DemDaily: Convicted! The 34-Count Conviction 5/31/24

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Kimberly Scott
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Sources: CBS, Manhattan DA's office, ABC News, Business Insider, BBC, WHYY

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