Trump convicted: Republicans claim rigged trial, Dems say no one is above the law

Trump convicted: Republicans claim rigged trial, Dems say no one is above the law
Former President Donald Trump was convicted on 34 felony counts Thursday. (Photo courtesy of the White House)

Public officials’ reactions to the historic conviction of former President Donald Trump Thursday fell along party lines.

A New York jury found the controversial businessman-turned-politician guilty on 34 felony counts Thursday, making him the first former U.S. president and likely major-party presidential nominee to be convicted of a crime.

“This was a rigged, disgraceful trial,” Trump said after the conviction Thursday. “The real verdict is gonna be Nov. 5 [Election Day] by the people and they know what happened here.”

Trump was found guilty of falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in a scheme to silence her story of an alleged sexual encounter prior to the 2016 presidential election.

The 34 counts consisted of 11 related to invoices from Trump’s then-personal counsel Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels the hush money; 11 related to checks signed by Trump or the use of his business’ funds to repay Cohen; and 12 related to accounting records of the reimbursements in Trump’s books.

The former president claimed he was an “innocent man” targeted by the Biden administration and a “Soros-backed DA,” referencing progressive Jewish billionaire George Soros who is often invoked in antisemitic right-wing conspiracy theories.

President Joe Biden slammed Trump’s comments.

“It’s reckless, it’s dangerous, and it’s irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don’t like the verdict,” he said.

“The American principle that no one is above the law was reaffirmed. Donald Trump was given every opportunity to defend himself,” Biden said. “After five weeks, the jury reached a unanimous verdict. They found Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts.”

He also noted that the charges were heard in state, not federal court.

Republican officials, from the House Speaker to Long Island representatives, echoed Trump’s sentiments of a rigged trial.

“The weaponization of our justice system has been a hallmark of the Biden Administration, and the decision today is further evidence that Democrats will stop at nothing to silence dissent and crush their political opponents,” Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson said it was a “shameful day in American history” and called the trial a “purely political exercise” in a post on X.

Republican Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman also decried the conviction.

“I think this is the biggest miscarriage of justice that I have witnessed in my life,” Blakeman said. “As a lawyer, I can’t see any basis for a conviction.”

The county executive is facing his own set of controversies, including an upset among Nassau residents and legislators over his proposed citizen militia, an unsuccessful attempted ban on transgender women and girl athletes and his attacks on Hofstra President Susan Poser, accusing her of colluding with competing casinos to derail a contentious Las Vegas Sands proposal at the Nassau Coliseum.

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) said the trial was unfair and politically motivated.

“The corrupt District Attorney of Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, and his left wing allies have completed their shameful witch hunt against President Trump by railroading a conviction through a partisan New York court in an attempt to help Joe Biden’s failing campaign,” D’Esposito said. “I have testified in court against countless convicts during my time as an NYPD Detective, and it is clear to me that Democrats are so afraid of engaging in a fair fight against President Trump that they continue to weaponize the justice system in an attempt to stop him.”

The Republican congressman, who is running for re-election in NY-04, endorsed Trump in February.

Trump recently returned the favor, endorsing D’Esposito on May 26 in a social media post.

“Congressman Anthony D’Esposito is a fantastic and highly effective representative for the people of New York’s 4th Congressional District,” Trump wrote in a social media post. “A retired NYPD police detective, Anthony is working hard to Uphold the Rule of Law, Create Jobs and Lower Inflation, Secure the Border, and Support our Incredible Military and Police Officers. Anthony D’Esposito has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg denied Republican claims of a rigged trial.

“While this defendant may be unlike any other in American history, we arrived at this trial, and ultimately today at this verdict, in the same manner as every other case that comes through the courtroom doors – by following the facts and the law and doing so without fear or favor,” Bragg said.

Democrat officials are praising the results of the trial. While Republicans repeated phrases like “rigged trial” and the “weaponization” of the justice system, Democrats Gov. Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and New York Attorney Letitia James repeated the same phrase that “no one is above the law.”

“The clear evidence presented in this case warranted a guilty verdict on all 34 counts,” Minority Leader Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) said in a statement. “Yesterday’s decision is an example of our system working in a fair and honest way.”

Yet the communications director of the Biden campaign, Michael Tyler, said the threat Trump poses to American democracy and freedoms “has never been greater.”

“Donald Trump has always mistakenly believed he would never face consequences for breaking the law for his own personal gain. But today’s verdict does not change the fact that the American people face a simple reality,” Tyler said. “There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box.”

Some are hoping the conviction results in blue votes come November.

“Over the last two years, House Republicans have pushed a radical agenda that seeks to defund law enforcement and endanger Americans,” House Majority PAC President Mike Smith said in a statement. “By standing with a now-convicted criminal, House Republicans are doubling down on their extremism – and it will cost them the House in November.”

Now that the jury delivered a guilty verdict, Trump awaits sentencing in July, at which point he will officially be a convicted felon.

Judge Juan Merchan will decide his sentencing. It could include fines, probation, or even prison time, though Trump was convicted of the least serious felonies under state law and has no prior criminal record.

Trump can appeal the sentence. But even if he does not appeal, the former president can still run for office as a convicted felon. And if he is sentenced to time in prison, he can still campaign behind bars.

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