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Trump Convicted of Election Fraud

In a landmark ruling, former US President Donald Trump has become the first ex-president to be criminally convicted. A New York jury found Trump guilty of falsifying business records to commit election fraud, marking an unprecedented moment in American political history. Sentencing is scheduled for July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention on July 15, where Trump is expected to be formally nominated for president.

The verdict plunges the nation into uncharted territory as the November 5 election approaches, with Trump and President Joe Biden in a closely contested race. Trump faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison, although similar convictions typically result in shorter sentences, fines, or probation. Trump decried the conviction as a “disgrace,” asserting his innocence and alleging the trial was “rigged” and the judge “conflicted.”

Following the conviction, Trump traveled to a New York City dinner in a convoy of black jeeps. Meanwhile, President Biden’s campaign reiterated that “no one is above the law.” Michael Tyler, Biden-Harris campaign communications director, stated, “Trump’s belief in his impunity has ended. His dangerous campaign of revenge and his threats to democracy must be rejected this November.”

New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who prosecuted the case, emphasized that his team followed the facts and law impartially. Bragg expressed gratitude to the NYPD, court staff, and the jury for their careful and attentive work. He noted, “While this defendant may be unique in American history, the trial and verdict process was conducted just like any other case.”

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and key witness, called the day significant for accountability and the rule of law, despite the personal toll it took on him and his family. Cohen also celebrated the verdict on social media.

The case centers on a scheme to cover up hush money payments to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Daniels claimed a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, which threatened to derail his campaign. To silence Daniels, Cohen paid her $130,000 at Trump’s direction, burying the story and aiding Trump’s election as the 45th president.

During the trial, jurors heard how the Trump campaign faced multiple crises, including the release of the Access Hollywood tape where Trump made lewd comments about women. This context was critical in understanding the urgency behind the hush money payments.

David Pecker, former publisher of the National Enquirer, testified about his role in the “catch and kill” scheme to suppress damaging stories. Pecker and Cohen testified that Trump directed the payment to Daniels, highlighting his central role in the conspiracy.

Although paying hush money is not illegal, the crime lies in how Trump reimbursed Cohen and recorded the payments. Trump repaid Cohen $420,000, covering the hush money and additional expenses, misclassified as legal fees. This falsification of business records, aimed at hiding damaging information from voters, constituted the crime.

The prosecution characterized the actions as a “planned, coordinated, long-running conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.” This historic conviction sets a precedent and raises significant questions about the implications for Trump’s political future.

The courtroom was filled with both supporters and protesters, reflecting the nation’s deep divisions. As the trial concluded, jurors were thanked by Judge Juan Merchan and are now free to discuss the case publicly.

This verdict marks a significant chapter in US history, with Trump’s legal battles far from over and the political landscape bracing for impact as the 2024 election looms.

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