The Trump Verdict, Explained


Today marked the conclusion of former president Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York, which saw him face 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to a $130,000 hush-money payment made to Stormy Daniels in 2016, shortly before that year’s presidential election. After a few weeks of testimony—including from Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who arranged the payment—and two days of deliberations, the case’s 12 jurors found Trump guilty on all counts.

Trump’s sentencing will take place on July 11, just a few days before the start of this year’s Republican National Convention, slated for July 15 to 18 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The conviction calls for a sentence of up to four years in prison, though he could receive probation.

Last spring, following the announcement of Trump’s felony indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., Vogue contributing editor Maya Singer visited Daniels at her home in central Florida. There, the porn actress described her erstwhile relationship with Trump, including a 2006 “sexual encounter” at a resort in Nevada.

“Paying hush money isn’t illegal,” Rebecca Roiphe, a professor of law at New York University and a former prosecutor for the Manhattan D.A., explained to Singer at the time. “And there’s a law in New York about falsifying business records, as happened here, but that’s a misdemeanor—unless the fraud is undertaken to commit or conceal another crime. That’s a felony. But we don’t know yet know the nature of the crime.”

Prosecutors in the trial this month argued that Trump’s payment to Daniels through Cohen was part of a “planned, coordinated long-running conspiracy to influence the 2016 election, to help Donald Trump get elected through illegal expenditures, to silence people who had something bad to say about his behavior, using doctored corporate records and bank forms to conceal those payments along the way.”

Today’s verdict follows recent rulings against Trump in New York civil trials, where he was ordered to pay more than $355 million for business fraud and $83 million to former Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll for defamation.

At the moment, it’s unclear how—or if—Trump’s verdict will effect his campaign in the coming months; as Jessica Levinson, a constitutional law professor at Loyola University, told CBS News, “The Constitution does not have any prohibition on serving as president if you’re a convicted felon.” Indeed, President Joe Biden made no delay using this afternoon’s news to encourage voters to donate to his own reelection efforts, writing on X, “There’s only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: At the ballot box.”


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