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Trump found guilty in hush money trial

May 30, 2024
Photo: Justin Lane/Pool/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

(CNN) — A Manhattan jury found Donald Trump guilty of 34 charges of falsifying business records Thursday, an unprecedented and historic verdict that makes Trump the first former president in American history to be convicted of a felony.

Not only is Trump the first former president to be found guilty of a felony, he’s also the first major-party presidential nominee to be convicted of a crime in the midst of a campaign for the White House. And if he defeats President Joe Biden in November, he will be the first sitting president in history to be a convicted felon.

It will ultimately be up to voters in November to decide the significance of the guilty verdict delivered by 12 ordinary New Yorkers, which, on a legal basis, does not prevent him from being elected president again.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, announced charges against Trump last year and presenting the first indictment of a former president, accusing him of falsifying the repayment of his former lawyer Michael Cohen in order to cover up a $130,000 payment Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep her from speaking out about an alleged affair with Trump before the 2016 election. (Trump has denied the affair.)

Throughout the seven-week trial, the district attorney’s office brought in 20 witnesses to illustrate to jurors how the hush-money payment to Daniels was part of a pattern of payoffs to keep negative stories about Trump out of view before the election, and how Trump was concerned about the impact to the campaign when the payment was made in October 2016.

Cohen was the prosecution’s key witness, describing how Trump directed him to pay Daniels and then approved the scheme to repay him in $35,000 monthly installments in 2017, an amount that was “grossed up” in part to account for taxes Cohen would have to pay.

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