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Donald Trump Found Guilty of All 34 Felony Counts Against Him

Trump will face sentencing on July 11, 2024
Legal - By
Donald Trump Found Guilty of All 34 Felony Counts Against Him

NEW YORKIn a historic moment for the United States, former President Donald Trump has been found guilty of 34 felony counts by a Manhattan-based jury. 

Trump is now the first former U.S. president ever to become a convicted felon. Sentencing is set for July 11.

Nothing in existing case law or the U.S. Constitution disqualifies a convicted felon from running for office or even serving as president while incarcerated or carrying out a sentence prescribed by the court. Trump cannot pardon himself from the New York felonies, however, if he is re-elected president this November.

He promised his supporters that he would continue to run. 

“The real verdict is going to be November 5 by the people,” Trump said to mixed crowds of supporters, hecklers and journalists outside the court. "[They] know what happened here and everybody knows what happened here.” He called himself a "very innocent man."

Barring the fact that no court had tested the legality of a president's self-pardoning, Trump legally cannot pardon or commute a conviction at the state level.

Only New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, would do that. But it is highly likely that Trump will not face incarceration.

For his years of controversy and dubious ethical conduct, Trump had never been convicted of a crime until now. Since this is his first conviction, he will likely be granted some sort of supervised release and probation that would probably be served concurrently. 

In theory, Trump could still run for office and win but still have to check in with a probation officer or case manager in New York to ensure compliance with the release.

A felony conviction against Trump could also harm his ability to visit foreign countries—a function vital to the presidency. Canada is one such country that prevents criminals convicted of a felony from entering upfront unless the national government grants exceptions.

As noted, this is theoretical. If Trump were to win back the White House but still have the felonies on his record, there is no way to tell if his criminal past would impact international travel. 

Judge Juan Merchan must still officially accept the jury's verdict, but this is typically a formality. Trump is expected to appeal the conviction, likely arguing that the case is flawed, prejudicial and politically motivated. This could take months if not years. 

AVN has reported on this case due to the central involvement of Hall of Famer Stormy Daniels. A jury of 12 New Yorkers has declared, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Trump had an affair with Daniels in 2006, and the former president went to great lengths to cover up the affair by way of a deal and subsequent payment of $130,000 to silence her. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his office indicted Trump for falsifying business records to try and hide the payment to Daniels—all felonies. 

During the trial, prosecutors presented documentary evidence and heard from several star witnesses, like Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen.

It was revealed that Cohen was tasked with silencing any accusations of infidelity during the 2016 election. With David Pecker, former publisher of the National Enquirer, Trump’s former personal attorney managed to temporarily “catch-and-kill” the story of the Daniels affair and another affair between 2006 and 2007 involving former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Pecker, who was also a witness for the prosecution in the trial, admitted that he purchased the rights to McDougal’s story for $150,000 on behalf of the Trump campaign.

Pecker, a senior editor for the National Enquirer, and executives for the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc., and a Los Angeles-based attorney, Keith Davidson, negotiated the deal on behalf of McDougal. Davidson, who also testified in the trial, revealed that he also represented Stormy Daniels in negotiations with Cohen.

Cohen tied together the various story arcs and recollections from the witness testimony of 20 people called by the prosecution. The defense only called two witnesses.

In 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into potential Russian and external influence on the 2016 presidential election found Cohen committed campaign finance violations on behalf of Trump’s campaign. The key in the case against Cohen was documented proof that he broke federal law by paying $130,000 to an unnamed “adult film star.”

Daniels was the individual Cohen paid off. Cohen pleaded guilty to the campaign finance violation, tax evasion and other felony counts. 

All of this was used by prosecutors to paint a scheme originating from Trump and his inner circle to sway the 2016 election in his favor.

The crimes Trump has now been convicted of don’t revolve around paying money to someone for their silence. Specifically, it was the way Trump directed Cohen and Pecker’s media properties to carry out the payments and how the payments were covered up to circumvent legal scrutiny that is the criminal issue. Jury members saw ample evidence derived from an uncovered paper trail containing email chains pages long, thousands of text messages, bank documents, and evidence from other criminal cases against former Trump associates. 

While Trump’s defense floundered under the weight of evidence, the former president himself provoked the ire of Judge Merchan. Merchan held Trump in contempt a total of 10 times for violating a standing gag order the judge implemented at the very beginning of the trial before the jury selection. 

The defense team, led by attorney Todd Blanche, was also admonished at times for their professional conduct in the courtroom during prosecution witnesses' testimony. Trump was given the opportunity to testify during the trial but was likely advised by counsel not to do so because anything he would have said could have come to haunt him.

Regardless, attorneys for District Attorney Bragg’s office were able to formulate a convincing case for Donald Trump’s guilt in the “catch-and-kill” scheme. There are still three pending criminal trials against Trump—two at the federal level and one in Georgia. 

AVN has reported extensively on the personal and legal disputes between Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump, including the hush money trial.