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Trump says he will appeal historic conviction

DONALD Trump said that he would appeal the guilty verdict that made him the first U.S. president convicted of a crime, though he will have to wait until after his sentencing on July 11 before taking that step.

In rambling remarks at the Trump Tower lobby in Manhattan where he announced his first presidential run in 2015, Trump repeated his complaints that the trial was an attempt to hobble his comeback White House bid and warned that it showed no American was safe from politically motivated prosecution.

“If they can do this to me, they can do this to anyone,” Trump said in an unscripted 33-minute speech. Applauded by supporters, Trump, the Republican candidate in the 2024 election took no questions from reporters.

Thursday’s guilty verdict catapults the United States into unexplored territory ahead of the Nov. 5 vote, when Trump, 77, will try to win back the White House from Democratic President Joe Biden, 81.

The charge he was convicted of, falsifying business records, carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. Others convicted of that crime often receive shorter sentences, fines or probation.

But Trump’s public criticism of jurors and witnesses during the trial, which prompted Justice Juan Merchan to impose a $10,000 fine, could push the judge to impose a tougher penalty, said Rebecca Roiphe, a former New York prosecutor.

Any sentence would likely be suspended until the appeals process plays out. A close ally, House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson, predicted the U.S. Supreme Court would eventually overturn the verdict.

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“I think they’ll set this straight, but it’s going to take a while,” he said on Fox News.

Incarceration would not prevent Trump from campaigning, or taking office if he were to win.

Trump’s July 11 sentencing comes just days before the Republican Party is due to formally nominate him as its presidential candidate at its convention in Milwaukee.

Trump was found guilty of 34 criminal counts of falsifying documents to cover up a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to illegally influence the 2016 election outcome. Trump that year defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump still faces three other criminal prosecutions – two for his efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat – but the New York verdict could be the only one handed down before Americans vote as the other cases have been tied up in legal wrangling. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all four cases, which he says are politically motivated.

A source familiar with his campaign’s inner workings said the verdict was expected to prompt him to intensify deliberations on picking a woman as his vice presidential running mate.

A newsstand shows off headlines following the announcement of the verdict on former U.S. President Donald Trump’s criminal trial, over charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in Nyack, New York, U.S. May 31, 2024. REUTERS/Mike Segar

PARTISAN DIVISIONS

Democratic lawmakers said the verdict showed nobody was above the law, while many Republicans embraced Trump’s assertions the prosecutions were a politically motivated attempt to prevent his return to power.

National opinion polls show Trump locked in a tight race with Biden, and one in four Republican respondents in an April Reuters/Ipsos poll said they would not vote for him if he were convicted of a felony by a jury.

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Strategists from both parties questioned whether the verdict would have a significant impact on the race.

On pro-Trump corners of the internet, some supporters called for riots, revolution and violent retribution.

In the battleground state of Georgia, retiree Wendell Hill, 65, said the verdict would not cause him to abandon Trump.

“It is all politicized. I still don’t understand what crime he’s supposed to have committed,” he said as he set up chairs for a concert in downtown Marietta.

Carol Cuba, 77, a longtime Republican voter, said she was disgusted with Trump.

“For the first time in my life I’m thinking about voting on the dark side,” she said referring to the Democrats.

Trump’s campaign said it raised $35 million from small donors after the verdict, nearly double its previous daily record. Several major Republican donors said they would continue to donate to Trump’s campaign despite the conviction.

Biden urged Americans to vote against Trump in November.

“There’s only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: At the ballot box,” he said on social media after the verdict.

EXPLICIT TESTIMONY

The jury found Trump guilty of falsifying business documents after a trial that featured explicit testimony from Daniels about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in 2006 while he was married to his current wife Melania. Trump denies ever having sex with Daniels.

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Trump’s former fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen testified that Trump approved a $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels in the final weeks of the 2016 election, when he faced multiple accusations of sexual misbehavior.

Cohen testified that he handled the payment and that Trump approved a plan to reimburse him through monthly payments disguised as legal work.

Falsifying business documents is normally a misdemeanour in New York, but prosecutors in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office elevated the case to a felony on the grounds that Trump was concealing an illegal campaign contribution.

If elected, Trump could shut down the two federal cases that accuse him of illegally trying to overturn his 2020 election loss and mishandling classified documents after leaving office in 2021. He would not have the power to stop a separate election-subversion case taking place in Georgia.

By LUC COHEN, HELEN COSTER and ANDY SULLIVAN

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