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Trump convicted of felony crimes

by The Associated Press
| May 30, 2024 3:00 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump became the first former president to be convicted of felony crimes Thursday as a New York jury found him guilty of falsifying business records in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election through hush money payments to a porn actor who said the two had sex.

Trump is expected to quickly appeal the verdict while returning to the campaign trail. There are no campaign rallies on the calendar for now, though he’s expected to hold fundraisers next week. It will likely take several months for Judge Juan Merchan, who oversaw the case, to decide whether to sentence Trump to prison.

Trump maintained throughout the trial that he had done nothing wrong and that the case should never have been brought, railing against the proceedings from inside the courthouse — where he was joined by a parade of high-profile Republican allies — and racking up fines for violating a gag order with inflammatory out-of-court comments about witnesses.  

The trial involved charges that Trump falsified business records to cover up hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, the porn actor who said she had sex with the married Trump in 2006.

The $130,000 payment was made by Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer Michael Cohen to buy Daniels’ silence during the final weeks of the 2016 race in what prosecutors allege was an effort to interfere in the election. When Cohen was reimbursed, the payments were recorded as legal expenses, which prosecutors said was an unlawful attempt to mask the true purpose of the transaction. Trump’s lawyers contend they were legitimate payments for legal services.

Trump has denied the sexual encounter, and his lawyers argued during the trial that his celebrity status, particularly during the 2016 campaign, made him a target for extortion. They’ve said hush money deals to bury negative stories about Trump were motivated by personal considerations such as the impact on his family and brand as a businessman, not political ones. They also sought to undermine the credibility of Cohen, the star prosecution witness who pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal charges related to the payments, as driven by personal animus toward Trump as well as fame and money.