Guilty! Jury convicts Trump on all 34 criminal counts
Former President Donald Trump walks to make comments to the media after a jury convicted him of felony crimes for falsifying business records in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election, at Manhattan Criminal Court, Thursday, May 30, 2024, in New York. | Seth Wenig/AP

NEW YORK—“Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!” people in the New York courtroom heard, over and over again yesterday, May 30, after the jury emerged from two days of deliberation. They heard the word 34 times after the jury decided unanimously that Trump was guilty of every single one of the 34 felony crimes with which he was charged by the people of New York.

They decided unanimously that he falsified records to cover up a sex scandal that was about to derail his presidential campaign. The verdicts are reverberating across the nation today and also around the world as an entirely new type of presidential campaign gets underway in America – one that aims to put a convicted criminal in the White House.

If the Republican Party has its way that party, transformed now into a fascist party, will have as its standard bearer in the 2024 election a convicted felon who will be sentenced on July 11. The sentencing date is just four days before the start of the Republican convention which is slated to officially nominate him for his third try at the presidency.

Under New York State law Trump could receive probation or up to four years in prison for the crimes for which he was found guilty yesterday. None of that counts the possible sentences he could receive for crimes that are being tried in numerous other state and federal cases. None of those additional trials, however, are expected to happen until after the election.

Although Trump becomes the first president or ex-president, ever, to be convicted of a felony he can still run for the office. Crafters of the U.S. Constitution decided impeachments would bar felonious presidents. Senate Republicans, however, let Trump beat impeachments, twice.

Jurors convicted Trump on all counts of falsifying business records in a plan to cover up his past sexual affairs with stripper Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal during the presidential election campaign eight years ago.

Trump knowingly signed checks to his lawyer-fixer-bagman Michael Cohen after Cohen, at Trump’s direction, paid off the two to shut them up. And then Trump OK’d the second part of the scheme by having staffers disguise the checks on his company’s books as “legal fees.”

That raised the crimes, ordinarily misdemeanors, to be felonies, as did their use as illegal campaign contributions under New York law. The illegal contributions were the hush money Trump paid to shut Daniels and McDougal up.

Trump paid $130,000 to Daniels via Cohen, and evidence included a video of the two men discussing the deal, plus photostats of the canceled checks. Trump paid $150,000 to McDougal, via Cohen, who taped their phone conversation about that. Trump asked how much was needed, then agreed. Cohen was the prosecution’s star witness, confirming and discussing the payoffs.

Trump is coasting to this year’s Republican presidential nomination, at a convention that will open in Milwaukee on July 15, four days after his sentencing by State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan. Surveys differ about how the guilty verdicts will hurt the political prospects of serial liar, white nationalist, misogynist, and criminally convicted Trump. The right-wing propaganda machines are working overtime to convince people that Trump is not a criminal who perpetrated fraud upon the American people but is, instead, a victim.

One survey shows two-thirds of Republicans and Trumpites believe the leaders of what has become their cult is a victim of a conspiracy led by his Democratic foe this fall, President Joe Biden. Another, earlier, survey says half of Trump’s voters would abandon him after any conviction, and even more would do so if Trump is sent to jail.

Trump is expected to appeal his conviction. Each count carries sentences ranging from fines up to one-and-a-half to four years in prison. New York criminal law favors concurrent rather than consecutive sentences in cases where counts intertwine with each other.

Would be a disaster for workers

The political impact of Trump’s conviction is important because Trump’s plans are a disaster for workers, the Constitution, voting rights, civil rights, people of color, and others he hates—which is almost anyone who’s not a white male right-wing “Christian.”

Trump’s plans for workers include a national right-to-work law, abolition of Project Labor Agreements and prevailing wages for federally funded construction, destruction of worker rights, and deregulation of everything from job safety and health to the nation’s oil companies. At a fundraiser the week before, Trump demanded those execs donate a billion bucks to his re-election drive. Quid pro quo.

Trump would also renew campaigns to turn the civil service into a spoils system—where the money you get from government contracts, payments, or even Social Security—depends on who you voted for. And Trump would again attempt to privatize, and de-unionize, the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital system and other agencies.

And as “a dictator on day one” he’d trash the Constitution and start deporting millions of people. Nobody, including Trump himself, believes he’d stop being a dictator after day one.

The dozen jurors vindicated the prosecution’s case in the six-week drama, the first criminal trial of four big cases Trump faces as he tries to regain the presidency.

His lawyers managed to stall the other three trials. That includes two—one each in Georgia and D.C.—dealing with Trump’s ordering, aiding, and abetting the Trumpite insurrection and invasion of the U.S. Capitol three years ago.

Trump’s lawyers couldn’t save him this time. Justice Merchan previously fined Trump $10,000 for violating a gag order banning Trump from insulting and threatening prosecutors, jurors, court officials, and even the justice’s family.

“SCOTUS did not issue any opinion on presidential immunity today,” presidential historian Michael Beschloss tweeted about Trump’s claim to the Supreme Court that an ex-president—him—is permanently immune from federal criminal prosecution. That claim is delaying the D.C. case. “Anyone have any opinion on why they seem to be taking their time on doing so?” Beschloss deadpanned.

Outside the courthouse, Trump again denounced Justice Merchan—calling the trial “disgraceful”—but his Trumpites were quiet.

By contrast, Democratic President Joe Biden, Trump’s foe this fall, kept his reaction low-key. “No one is above the law,” he commented. His campaign’s communications director, Michael Tyler, told the New York Times: “There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: At the ballot box. Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee.”

Other commenters were not as low-key as Biden, but all repeated Trump is not above the law.

No one above the law

“Today’s verdict shows no one is above the law, not even a former president,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten, a New York City civics teacher who also holds a law degree.

“The jury decided clearly and unanimously on the charges before it—and now Trump is a convicted felon. It’s time for political leaders of all stripes to stand up and say loud and clear that a criminal should not be allowed anywhere near the White House.” Trump’s Republicans, though, show no signs of political courage against their party’s tyrant and his adoring hordes.

“Today, we should take comfort in the fact that our laws and Constitution apply equally to all and that in the face of Trump’s baseless attacks, a jury of everyday Americans acted to protect our freedoms, our families, and our futures,” Weingarten concluded.

“No one in this country is above the law–including former President Trump,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., a “Squad” member and a School Administrators member. “Being convicted for falsifying business records with hush money is only the beginning of being held accountable for his crimes.

“Trump attempted to illegally overturn election results in Georgia and worked to incite the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, both in an effort to overthrow our government to advance his fascist cause. His continued calls for protests are just another dog whistle for his followers: Destroy our democracy.

“Republicans will continue to claim this was a political conviction, but they can’t continue to hide behind their lies, misinformation, and racist attacks. It’s time we ensure Trump is banned from running for any public office again and from there, finally take action to fix our democracy.”

The jury “delivered a unanimous guilty verdict” against Trump, showing “no one is above the law,” tweeted Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., a National Education Association member, Waterbury social sciences teacher and former National Teacher of the Year.

“Our justice system was tested in unique ways during this trial,” Hayes continued. “The rule of law, the presumption of innocence, due process, and trial by jury are cornerstones of our democracy. Donald Trump had his day in court and today he is a convicted felon.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., another “Squad” member, reminded people Trump is still a danger.

“Trump is not a man persecuted because of his politics,” said Pressley. “He has been defrauding people, exacting harm, and evading legal accountability for decades. From discriminating against Black tenants to defrauding small businesses, to bribery, hush money schemes, election interference, and insurrection, this man has broken the law to advance his own interests at the expense of other people and to the detriment of our democracy.

“Accountability is welcome and long overdue. This man is undoubtedly unfit to serve in public office. The threat he poses to our nation and our democracy cannot be overstated.”

And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., also a “Squad” member, started a town hall session with her Bronx constituents by declaring: “He was found guilty on all 34 counts. The rule of law applies to everyone.” The crowd applauded.

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.