Donald Trump: Jury finds him guilty on all counts

For the first time in the history of the United States, a former US president has been convicted of a crime. It remains to be seen whether the historic verdict will harm Trump in the November election.

In the historic hush money trial against Donald Trump, the former US president was found guilty on all 34 charges. “You have given this case the attention it deserves,” Judge Juan Merchan told the jury on Thursday. Trump is the first former US president in history to be convicted of a crime. In a brief statement outside the courtroom, he called the verdict “a disgrace.” The real verdict will be made in the election on November 5, he said. He is innocent. He will keep fighting to the end. “I am a very innocent man.”

Donald Trump found guilty: Ex-US President's appeal expected

Trump accepted the guilty verdict without emotion and with his eyes closed. The sentence is to be announced on July 11. The 77-year-old Trump theoretically faces up to four years in prison, which could also be suspended, or a fine.

He is expected to appeal. Trump was accused of falsifying business documents before the 2016 election in connection with hush money payments of $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels. His personal lawyer Michael Cohen gave Daniels the money to prevent a revelation about an alleged sexual affair in 2006. Trump has admitted to paying Cohen back the money. The presidential candidate has, however, denied the allegations in the trial and said the proceedings were politically motivated. He denies having an affair with Daniels.

Although the payment itself – which neither party disputed – was not illegal, the now 77-year-old is said to have manipulated documents when reimbursing the amount to his then personal lawyer Michael Cohen in order to conceal the true reason for the transaction. This made him guilty of 34 counts of illegal campaign financing. Trump's lawyers had argued that these were ordinary legal fees.

The seven men and five women on the jury had heard the testimony of more than 20 witnesses since mid-April – the jury's deliberations had been ongoing since Wednesday.

Judgment with influence on the election campaign

The verdict is also likely to have an impact on the current election campaign in the United States – but the question is: how much and to whose advantage? Trump is trying to turn the case into a personal advantage and mobilize his supporters by portraying himself as the victim of a politically motivated justice system. However, many voters are likely to see the first criminal conviction of a former US president as a disgrace.

Incumbent Joe Biden, on the other hand, who is seeking re-election in November, does not appear to have benefited noticeably from the trial against his challenger. The latest polls suggest that the verdict is unlikely to change many Americans' voting decisions for November 5. However, the sentence could have an impact – especially in the rather unlikely event of a prison sentence.

The trial took place in downtown Manhattan amid unprecedented media interest and the strictest security measures. US media covered the event in Manhattan like a major sporting event and quoted from the courtroom, where no TV recordings were allowed, every minute. They also commented on every movement of Trump, who was always present at the hearings and actually only changed the color of his tie from day to day.

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Political show in the courtroom 1530

Trump regularly put on a grim face for the short photo opportunity at the beginning of the session. Trump seemed to be following some witness interviews with interest, while on other days US media were sure that he kept his eyes closed for a long time because he had dozed off. He used the trial and the media hype to campaign and often gave an angry monologue in front of Courtroom 1530 about what he considered to be politically motivated proceedings.

Trump also turned the trial into a loyalty test for his Republican followers. In addition to the Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, candidates for the office of Vice President such as Senator JD Vance and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy also came. Trump's children Eric, Donald Junior and Tiffany were also in the courtroom. In addition to the absence of daughter Ivanka, what was particularly noticeable was that wife Melania Trump refused to publicly support her.

“Conspiracy” in Trump Tower

The prosecution portrayed the case, which actually essentially involved fake invoices and checks, as a “conspiracy” to illegally influence the 2016 US presidential election. Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen and the editor of a tabloid newspaper, David Pecker, were allegedly tasked with investigating unfavorable rumors about Trump's alleged affairs – and suppressing media reports about them – at a meeting with the then presidential candidate. This was intended to improve his chances in the election.

As a result of the meeting in Trump Tower, money was exchanged for the rights to several stories involving Trump's extramarital sex. There was also a hush money payment to Daniels. State Attorney Joshua Steinglass said this “conspiracy” “could well have led to President Trump being elected.”

Liar as crucial witness – porn star with details

Trump's defense, meanwhile, asserted his innocence and sowed doubts about the prosecution's narrative. In doing so, they sharply attacked the credibility of key witness Cohen. The 57-year-old was also the prosecution's biggest weak point – because of his long history of publicly spreading untruths and false statements. Trump's lawyer Todd Blanche called Cohen the “biggest liar of all time” in his closing argument. The prosecution, in turn, did everything it could to support the statements of its most important witness as much as possible with documents, checks, telephone data or other statements.

At the end of the trial, Judge Merchan caused a stir: He lost his temper when he felt his authority was being undermined by a witness for the defense who was close to Trump. Merchan had the room temporarily cleared and threatened to remove the man from the witness stand. Another highlight of the trial, which lasted about six weeks, was the testimony of porn star Daniels herself, who recounted in embarrassing detail the alleged sex with Trump – which did not make the former president look particularly good and, according to experts, could improve his chances of an appeal.

Note: This article has been updated to include additional information.