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Trump Convicted on 34 Felony Counts in Hush Money Case: What Happens Next?

May 30, 2024

 

 

 

In a historic and unprecedented development, former President Donald Trump has been found guilty on 34 felony counts related to concealing hush money payments, marking him as the first U.S. president to be convicted of a felony. The charges stem from accusations that Trump falsified business records to hide payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to suppress news of an alleged affair ahead of the 2016 election.

The verdict was delivered by a New York jury after a case brought forward by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D). The jury determined that Trump, through his then-attorney Michael Cohen, orchestrated the payments to Daniels to prevent the affair from becoming public and potentially influencing the outcome of the election.

Immediate Consequences and Long-Term Implications

Despite the guilty verdict, Trump is not facing immediate jail time. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention where Trump is expected to become the party’s official nominee for the 2024 presidential election. A felony conviction does not preclude him from running for office.

Although Trump could face up to four years in prison for each count, it is unlikely he will serve time. First-time offenders of Class E felonies, like those Trump was convicted of, often receive probation instead of incarceration. Additionally, Trump’s legal team is expected to appeal the verdict, potentially delaying any sentence.

Legal Maneuvering and Political Ramifications

After the verdict, Trump exited the Manhattan courthouse calling the ruling “a disgrace” and maintaining his innocence, vowing to continue fighting the charges. His legal team has 30 days to file a notice of appeal and six months to submit the full appeal, initiating a lengthy legal process that could extend past the November 2024 election.

An appeals court could also stay Trump’s sentence, further postponing any potential incarceration while the appeals process unfolds. Trump hinted at the political dimension of his legal battles, suggesting that the true verdict would come from the voters on November 5, 2024.

Broader Legal Context

Trump is concurrently dealing with legal challenges on multiple fronts. He faces two federal cases brought by special counsel Jack Smith concerning his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results and his handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Additionally, Trump is charged in Georgia for his alleged efforts to interfere with the 2020 election outcome in the state.

Should Trump win the 2024 presidential election, the Department of Justice, under his administration, might drop the federal cases against him. However, the state-level cases in New York and Georgia are beyond presidential pardon powers and would proceed independently.

The Path Forward

As Trump navigates these legal battles, the implications for his political career and the broader landscape of American politics are profound. The intersection of legal proceedings and electoral politics will undoubtedly shape the narrative leading up to the 2024 election, with potential ramifications for the Republican Party and the country at large.

While Trump’s legal troubles are far from over, the immediate focus will be on the upcoming sentencing and the appeal process, which promises to be as contentious and closely watched as the trial itself.

 

Credit: The Hill

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