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Donald Trump found guilty of all charges in New York hush money case – National


A New York jury found Donald Trump guilty of all 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, making Trump the first former American president ever convicted on criminal charges.

The jury reached the verdict Thursday after less than 12 hours of deliberation, which began Wednesday after a historic and intensely watched trial in Manhattan.

State prosecutors had accused Trump — who is seeking to return to the White House this fall — of conspiring to bury media stories about alleged affairs after entering the presidential race, and of hiding reimbursements to his then-fixer for paying off a porn star to keep her allegations quiet just days before Trump was elected.

The verdict marks a watershed moment for the U.S. political system, which has never before had to contend with a convicted felon running for the presidency. Trump faces three other criminal indictments, but it’s unlikely those cases will go to trial before November’s election.

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It’s unclear whether prosecutors will seek a prison sentence for Trump, or if Judge Juan Merchan would impose that punishment if asked. The charges carry a maximum sentence of four years behind bars.

During closing arguments on Tuesday, Merchan scolded a defence lawyer’s suggestion that Trump could face jail time as “outrageous.” Juries are not supposed to consider the possible sentence when weighing a verdict.


Click to play video: 'Trump’s hush money trial enters final stages'


Trump’s hush money trial enters final stages


The 34 felony counts Trump faced related to payments prosecutors said were made on Trump’s behalf to stifle claims made by porn star Stormy Daniels about a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier. Trump pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing, and has claimed the encounter with Daniels never happened.


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Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer who became the prosecution’s star witness, pleaded guilty to federal charges for paying Daniels US$130,000 during the final days of the 2016 campaign to keep her from going public with her story. Cohen testified during the trial that he paid Daniels at Trump’s direction, and that his former boss reimbursed Cohen with payments that were logged by the Trump Organization as legal expenses. Some of the payments were made in the early days of Trump’s presidency.

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Each false ledger entry and cheque signed by Trump was counted as a separate felony in Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s indictment, which was announced in April 2023.

Trump’s lawyers contended they were legitimate payments for actual legal services, and that his celebrity status made him a target for extortion. They also argued that once Trump was in the White House, he was too busy running the country to focus on the day-to-day accounting of his company, countering prosecutors’ portrait of Trump as a detail-oriented micro-manager of his finances.

The defence called just two witnesses, but Trump did not testify. His lawyers spent much of their time describing Cohen as a serial liar who perjured himself during testimony, and pressed him on his recollection of key details.

On cross-examination, for instance, Cohen admitted stealing tens of thousands of dollars from Trump’s company by asking to be reimbursed for money he had not spent. Cohen acknowledged once telling a prosecutor he felt that Daniels and her lawyer were extorting Trump.

“He’s literally like an MVP of liars. He lies constantly,” lawyer Todd Blanche said of Cohen during Tuesday’s closing arguments. “He lied to Congress. He lied to prosecutors. He lied to his family and business associates.”

The nearly two dozen witnesses included Daniels, who described in sometimes vivid detail the encounter she says she had with Trump; David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, who testified that he used his media enterprise to protect Trump by squelching stories that could harm his campaign; and Cohen, who testified that Trump was intimately involved in the hush money discussions.

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“Just pay it,” the now-disbarred lawyer quoted Trump as saying.


Click to play video: 'Closing arguments delivered in Trump’s historic hush money trial'


Closing arguments delivered in Trump’s historic hush money trial


Prosecutors showed jurors bank statements, emails and other documentary evidence, as well as an audio recording in which Cohen and Trump can be heard discussing paying US$150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep her from going public with a claim that she had had a year-long affair with Trump. Trump has denied a relationship with McDougal too.

“The name of the game was concealment and all roads lead inescapably to the man who benefited most, the defendant, a man named Donald J. Trump,” prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said.

The month-long trial drew enormous attention on the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, where pro- and anti-Trump protesters gathered outside daily and Trump delivered lengthy comments to throngs of reporters while entering and exiting the courtroom. He has continued to campaign during breaks in the proceedings.

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Several Republican allies of Trump in the U.S. Congress, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, travelled to New York to speak in his defence and attack the judge, prosecutors and even the jury selected in the heavily Democratic city as being biased. Trump was unable to make many of those attacks due to a gag order, which Merchan nonetheless found he violated multiple times and issued fines for contempt.

Supporters of U.S. President Biden, including actor Robert De Niro and former members of the U.S. Capitol Police who responded to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, showed up during closing arguments on Tuesday to speak to media and portray Trump as unfit for office.

Trump faces both a federal criminal case and a related one in Georgia related to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election he lost to Biden, which led to the Jan. 6 attack. He also faces federal charges in Florida related to his alleged withholding of classified documents he took with him after leaving the White House. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

—With files from The Associated Press

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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