Trump found guilty on all hush money charges: US media reacts to historic verdict

"The presumptive Republican nominee." The Guardian said, "is now a convicted felon."
Donald Trump leaves his apartment building, Thursday, Jan 25, 2024, in New York.
Donald Trump leaves his apartment building, Thursday, Jan 25, 2024, in New York. (Photo | AP)

"Trump Guilty On All Counts," cried The New York Times headline.

Almost a similar headline met the eyes when one logged into The Washington Post website.

"TRUMP HUSH MONEY VERDICT, Trump guilty on all counts", it declared.

Los Angeles Times headline was not much different either. It announced, "TRUMP FOUND GUILTY ON ALL CHARGES."

The Wall Street Journal however chose to put it this way: "Trump Guilty Verdict Rocks 2024 Presidential Campaign." The strap said, "Former president will barrel ahead with his effort to oust Biden despite felony conviction"

Predictably, Fox News dubbed the verdict insane. 'ABSOLUTELY INSANE', declared Fox headline, adding, "Americans react to Trump's stunning conviction in New York trial"

Far-right hardliners back Trump

It's like this: While the verdict is widely seen as "historic", the far-right hardliners are rallying behind their 77-year-old controversial leader.

Piers Morgan and Caitlyn Jenner were among some of the celebrities who extended support for Donald Trump after he was found guilty of falsifying business records to commit election fraud.

According to the Mirror, Piers Morgan was one of the first celebrities to defend Trump. Taking to X, the TalkTV host typed: "This is a sad, shameful and ridiculous day for America. To drag a former President, who is running for President again, through criminal courts over something so trivial feels a massive overreach & an incredibly divisive and obviously politically partisan action."

In another tweet, he added: "Trump’s donation websites are crashing… my guess is this verdict will propel him back into the White House."

Elsewhere, Caitlyn Jenner echoed: "An outrageous day for America. The entire process has been outrageous, of course. Shame on the state of New York. Shame on the corrupt DOJ. Absolute chaos by the state of New York and the federal government. The United States is a banana republic under the Biden DOJ. Disgusting! Hope the court of appeals steps in with swift action."

Caitlyn went on to insist that Trump will still be getting her vote in the presidential election. She insisted in another post: "THE ONLY VERDICT THAT MATTERS IS THE VOTE OF WE THE PEOPLE, OF THE USA, ON NOVEMBER 5 2024, the Mirror added.

Among the hard core of Trump’s extremely online supporters, there are howls of outrage and even talk of violence, BBC reported.

Far-right podcaster Stew Peters told his hundreds of thousands of Telegram followers: "Our judicial system has been weaponized... we are left with NO other option but to take matters into our own hands". He used a crossed swords emoji to hammer home his point, and followers responded with talk of burning down courthouses and rioting.

More mainstream Maga influencers were less direct but equally enraged. On X, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk called Trump’s opponents "savages" while broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec preferred the term "unhumans". Podcaster Tim Pool tweeted: "war." Similar language was all over Telegram channels run by far-right Proud Boys.

Former Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson revived a bizarre theory about a "deep state" assassination plot against the former president and predicted: "He’ll win the election if he’s not killed first."

The overheated rhetoric included tens of thousands of posts about "Civil War". But others, including many Trump opponents, were quick to pour scorn. It’s worth noting that Trump’s arrests and numerous court dates did not lead to widespread violence, or even very large protests.

Paranoia is rife on the Maga fringes, with many fearing that law enforcement is watching them. Among the "civil war" posts were ones mocking some of the angrier posters - for lacking the will to leave their houses.

Americans caught in a bind

Americans however are caught in a bind. As an user of platform X put it succinctly, "While democrats rejoice the conviction of trump, biden is committing war crimes." The reference here is to the US support for Israel which is massacring the Palestinians in Gaza.

Another X user painted a bleak picture saying, "They make it seem as if no president before Trump was capable of evil. Every American president that has ever been, was a criminal. A nation birthed through theft and genocide, every occupant of that oval office perpetuates the same white supremacist violence. That is the job said the user going by the name Haydar @chronicalihere.

Joy Priest @Dalai_Mama wrote: "All these mean is America's gonna elect a felon who can't vote for President in November. America is a mess. Chile! What an experiment!

"...The conviction of any felony automatically disqualifies a candidate from working for the FBI- but not being President of the country.

As a felon, Trump can't get a real estate license in Ohio, but sure, he can be President of the United States of America." noted Robin Beth Schaer @robinschaer.

'Historic Moment'

"It was a historic moment in which the US joined other democracies in showing the world it is willing to hold its political leaders to account," wrote David Smith in The Guardian, after a Manhattan jury found Donald Trump guilty of all 34 counts of conspiracy and fraud in a case stemming from payments that the former president arranged to cover up an affair with the adult film actor Stormy Daniels. "The presumptive Republican nominee." The Guardian said, "is now a convicted felon."

"Now in the unique position of being the first former US president convicted of a felony," CNN wrote, "Trump faces the possibility of a prison sentence or probation for his crimes stemming from a hush money payment scheme he helped facilitate ahead of the 2016 presidential election."

Trump – who is known for mounting lengthy appeals of court rulings against him – is also likely to appeal the conviction, which could significantly delay his sentencing, currently set for July 11.

Can Trump still be elected president?

In short, yes, said CNN.

University of California, Los Angeles law professor Richard L. Hasen – one of the country’s leading experts on election law – has consistently said that nothing in the US Constitution bars a convicted criminal from running for the nation’s highest office.

“Legally, nothing changes with Trump’s status as a candidate,” Hasen wrote in his Election Law Blog on Thursday.

When it comes to the Manhattan guilty verdict just rendered, Trump’s right to vote in Florida in November’s election will depend on whether he is sentenced to a term in prison and if he has finished serving that prison sentence by the time of the election, CNN noted.

Trump’s conviction means little for his three other criminal cases, which will continue to proceed as they were prior to him being found guilty in the New York case.

Trump’s federal election subversion criminal case has been on hold while the US Supreme Court considers his claims of presidential immunity. The judge overseeing his classified documents case in Florida has indefinitely postponed the trial. And the Georgia election interference case is in legal limbo while Trump and several of his co-defendants try to disqualify the Atlanta-area prosecutor who brought the charges.

The big question now is whether Trump could go to prison. The answer is uncertain. Judge Merchan set sentencing for July 11, just days before Republicans are set to formally nominate him for president, according to The Associated Press.

The charge of falsifying business records is a Class E felony in New York, the lowest tier of felony charges in the state. It is punishable by up to four years in prison, though the punishment would ultimately be up to the judge and there’s no guarantee he would give Trump time bars, AP said.

It’s unclear to what extent the judge may factor in the political and logistical complexities of jailing a former president who is running to reclaim the White House. Other punishments could include a fine or probation. And it’s possible the judge would allow Trump to avoid serving any punishment until after he exhausts his appeals.

The conviction doesn’t also bar Trump from continuing his campaign. Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who serves as co-chair of the Republican National Committee, said in a Fox News Channel interview on Thursday that if Trump is convicted and sentenced to home confinement, he would do virtual rallies and campaign events.

“We’ll have to play the hand that we’re dealt,” she said, according to an interview transcript, The Associated Press added.

Shares plunge

Shares in Trump Media & Technology Group fell by more than 6% to $48.66 each in extended trading following the events in court.

They had closed at $51.12 during regular hours on Thursday, which gave the firm a stock market valuation of more than $9bn (£7bn).

Trump owns the majority of the company behind the social media platform Truth Social.

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