Trump becomes first fmr US president to be convicted of felony

Lalit K Jha
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, 31 May: Donald Trump has become the first former US president to be convicted of a felony after a grand jury in New York found him guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up a payment to silence a porn star ahead of the 2016 presidential election, mounting his legal challenges amidst his bid to return to the White House in November.
In a historic verdict, a panel of 12 Manhattan jurors on Thursday said they unanimously agreed that Trump, 77, falsified business records to conceal a USD 130,000 hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to influence the 2016 contest.
The decision came after about a day and a half of deliberations.
The conviction does not prevent Trump from standing in November’s election, but he is almost certain to appeal against it regardless.
Over a six-week trial, the court heard from 22 witnesses, including Daniels, whose alleged sexual encounter with the former president was at the centre of the case.
As the verdicts were read, Trump remained silent and still. But the former president spoke to reporters outside the courtroom, calling the trial a “rigged, disgraceful trial,” and saying that the “real verdict” will be rendered on election day.
Prosecutors had argued that, by approving a scheme to disguise the money as legal expenses, Trump broke election law.
Trump’s sentencing is scheduled for 11 July, four days before the Republican national convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he will be formally nominated as the party’s presidential candidate against incumbent Joe Biden, an 81-year-old Democrat, in the 5 November elections.
For now, Trump has been released without having to pay bail.
“This was a disgrace. This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt. It’s a rigged trial, a disgrace. They wouldn’t give us a venue change. We were at 5 percent or 6 percent in this district, in this area. This was a rigged, disgraceful trial,” said Trump shortly after the verdict was read.
“The real verdict is going to be November 5th by the people. And they know what happened here, and everybody knows what happened here. You have a Soros-backed DA, and the whole thing, we didn’t do a thing wrong. I’m a very innocent man, and it’s okay, I’m fighting for our country. I’m fighting for our Constitution. Our whole country is being rigged right now,” Trump said.
He alleged that this was done by the Biden administration to wound or hurt a political opponent.
“And I think it’s just a disgrace. And we’ll keep fighting. We’ll fight till the end, and we’ll win because our country has gone to hell,” he said.
No former president or presumptive party nominee in the US has ever faced a felony conviction. (PTI)