Trump responds to guilty verdict by wrongly calling it a ‘rigged trial’

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump He wanted to move his past historic criminal conviction Friday and give momentum to his bid to return to the White House with fierce attacks on the judge who oversaw the case, the prosecution’s star witness and the criminal justice system as a whole.

Speaking from his namesake tower in Manhattan, in a symbolic return to the campaign trail, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate delivered a message aimed directly at his most loyal supporters. Always defiant, he insisted, without any evidence, that the verdict was “rigged” and politically motivated.

The conviction of Donald Trump 34th criminal count marks end of his historic hush money trial. But the fight is far from over. Here’s what you need to know.

  • How did Trump react? Trump falsely denounced a “rigged trial” and attacked a star witness in a speech Friday. Follow live coverage from the AP.
  • When is the sentencing? July 11, a few days before Republicans are poised to choose Trump as their 2024 candidate.
  • Can Trump vote? He may be convicted and reside in Florida, but I can still vote as long as he remains out of prison in New York State.
  • Will this have an impact on the elections? It is clear that Trump’s once-imagined status as a person convicted of a crime will have no impact on voters.

“We’re going to fight,” Trump said from the atrium of Trump Tower, where he descended his golden escalator to announce his 2016 campaign nine years ago next month. It was this campaign that led to the charges that made Trump the first former president and presumptive major party nominee in the nation’s history to be convicted of a crime.

While the guilty verdict has energized Trump’s base, fueling millions of dollars in new campaign contributions, it’s clear that his conviction and rambling response will resonate with the type of voters likely to decide what is expected to be an extremely close election in November. These include women from the suburbs, independents and voters put off by the two candidates who remain hesitant.

Trump portrayed himself as a martyr, suggesting that if it could happen to him, “they can do this to anyone.”

“I am willing to do whatever it takes to save our country and save our Constitution. “It doesn’t bother me,” he said, as he swapped the aging courthouse in Lower Manhattan, where he had spent much of the past two months, for a decor of American flags, pink marble and brass.

“It’s a very unpleasant thing, to be honest,” he added. “But it’s a very great honor.”

President Joe Biden, in response to the White House verdict, said the former president “was given every opportunity to defend himself” and blasted his rhetoric.

“It’s reckless, it’s dangerous, it’s irresponsible for anyone to say it’s rigged just because they don’t like the verdict,” Biden said.

No former president or presumptive party nominee has ever faced a felony conviction or the prospect of prison time. But Trump has made his legal troubles the centerpiece of his campaign message, claiming without evidence that the four indictments against him were orchestrated by Biden to hamper his campaign. The hush money case was filed by local Manhattan prosecutors who work neither for the Justice Department nor any White House office.

A Manhattan jury on Thursday found Trump guilty of 34 counts in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election by paying hush money to a porn actor who claimed the two men had sex. sexual relations.

Despite this historic decision, a convicted Trump sounded much the same as a pre-convicted Trump, as he delivered what amounted to a truncated version of his usual rally speech.

What you need to know about the 2024 elections

The ever-defiant former Republican president maintained that the verdict was illegitimate and politically motivated, and sought to downplay the facts underlying the case.

“It’s not secret money. This is a non-disclosure agreement. Totally legal, totally common,” he said.

When Trump walked out of the courtroom immediately after the verdict Thursday, he seemed tense and deeply angry, his words sharp and clipped. But on Friday, he seemed more relaxed — if a little crowded — especially as his remarks evolved into a version of his usual rally speeches, complete with staged stories and exaggerated hand gestures. He did not answer journalists’ questions and paraded to the applause of supporters gathered in the hall.

Trump, who has presented himself as supportive of law enforcement and even talked about how officers might treat suspects brutally, has spent the past two years attacking parts of the criminal justice system to the extent where it applies to him and raise questions about the honesty and motivations of the agents. and prosecutors.

In his rambling remarks, Trump attacked Biden on immigration and tax policies before returning to his case, adding that he was threatened with prison time if he violated a deviation command. He presented complex parts of the case and judged the proceedings to be unfair, making misrepresentations and misrepresentations along the way.

Trump said he wanted to testify at his trial, a right he chose not to exercise. That would have allowed prosecutors to cross-examine him. The former president on Friday raised the specter of being charged with perjury for a verbal misstep, saying: “The theory is you never testify because as soon as you testify — anyone, if it was George Washington – don’t testify because he will. I’m going to bring you to something that you said was slightly wrong.

Testing the limits of the silence that continues to prohibit him from publicly criticizing witnesses, including Michael Cohen, Trump called his former fixer, the prosecution’s star witness in this case, “sleazy,” without mentioning him by name.

He also blasted the judge in the case, saying his side’s main witness had been “literally crucified by this man who looks like an angel, but is actually a devil.”

He also returned to some of the same authoritarian themes he has repeatedly focused on in his speeches and rallies, describing the United States under Biden as a “corrupt” and “fascist” nation.

His son Eric Trump and his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, joined him, but his wife, Melania Trump, who has remained publicly silent since the verdict, was not seen.

Outside on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, supporters gathered across the street held up a giant red “TRUMP OR DEATH” sign that fluttered in front of an upscale boutique. A small group of protesters held signs reading “Guilty” and “Justice Matters.”

On Friday morning, Trump’s campaign announced that it had raised $34.8 million between the announcement of the verdict and midnight. That’s more than $1 million for each criminal charge and more than his political operation raised in January and February combined. Just under 30 percent of that money came from donors who had never contributed to the campaign through the online platform, they said.

Trump and his campaign had been preparing for days for a guilty verdict, even as they hoped for a hung jury. On Tuesday, Trump denounced that even Mother Teresa, the nun and saint, could not refute the accusations, which he repeatedly called “fake.”

His top aides issued a memo Wednesday insisting that a verdict would have no impact on the election, whether Trump is found guilty or acquitted.

The news nevertheless came as a surprise. Trump listened as the jury returned a guilty verdict on each count. Trump remained speechless as the verdict was read.

His campaign sparked a wave of fundraising appeals and Republican Party allies rallied to his side. A text message describes him as a “political prisoner”, although he does not yet know whether he will be sentenced to prison. The campaign also began selling black “Make America Great Again” caps, instead of the usual red, to reflect a “dark day in history.”

Aides reported an immediate rush of contributions so intense that WinRed, the platform the campaign used for fundraising, crashed. The $34.8 million raised Thursday did not include what Trump raised during his in-person fundraiser or donations that continued to come in online Friday.

Trump is expected to have his first debate with Biden in the next two months, announce a vice presidential nominee and formally accept his party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention. But before heading to Milwaukee for the RNC, Trump will have to return to court on July 11 for sentencing. He could face penalties ranging from a fine or probation to up to four years in prison.


Associated Press writers Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami, Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, Gary Fields in Washington, and Ali Swenson and Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed to this report.

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