Trump found guilty in hush-money case; sentencing set for July

Former President Donald Trump sat stone-faced in court Thursday as a New York jury found him guilty of falsifying business records in an attempt to bury stories about extramarital affairs that arose during his 2016 presidential campaign. 

Judge Juan Merchan, who oversaw the case, has set Trump's sentencing for July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

Jurors over the course of a month heard testimony about sex and bookkeeping, tabloid journalism and presidential politics. Their task was to decide whether prosecutors, who charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records, proved that he not only falsified those records, but that he did so with intent to commit or conceal another crime. 

After deliberating for 9.5 hours over two days, they rejected the former president’s claims that the bookkeeping was legitimate and accurate.

Trump is expected to quickly appeal the verdict and will face an awkward dynamic as he seeks to return to the campaign trail as a convicted felon.

RELATED: Is Trump going to jail? What's next in hush-money trial

"This was a rigged, disgraceful trial," Trump told reporters after leaving the courtroom. "The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people. They know what happened, and everyone knows what happened here."

President Joe Biden, Trump's opponent in November, had no immediate comment personally. His campaign issued a statement noting that "no one is above the law."

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his team addressed reporters following the verdict, saying the jurors performed their "fundamental civic duty" and that he and his team followed "the facts and the law, and doing so without fear or favor." 

"The 12 everyday jurors vowed to make a decision based on the evidence and the law, and the evidence and the law alone. Their deliberations led them to a unanimous conclusion … Defendant Donald J. Trump is guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, to conceal a scheme to corrupt the 2016 election. And while this defendant may be unlike any other in American history, we arrived at this trial, and ultimately today at this verdict, in the same manner as every other case that comes through the courtroom door, by following the facts and the law, and doing so without fear or favor," Bragg said.

After the verdict, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche said in television news interviews that he did not believe Trump received a fair trial and that the team would appeal based on the judge’s refusal to recuse himself and because of what he suggested was excessive pretrial publicity.

How will this impact the election?

Two-thirds of registered voters nationwide questioned in a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll released on Thursday – after deliberations began but before the verdict – said a guilty verdict in the trial would make no difference to their vote in the presidential election. 

RELATED: Can Trump still be president? What his conviction means for the election

As he seeks a return to the White House in this year’s election, the judgment presents voters with another test of their willingness to accept Trump’s boundary-breaking behavior.

Seventeen percent said a conviction of Trump would make them less likely to vote for him and 15% said they'd be more inclined to support the former president at the ballot box.

Trump faces three other felony indictments, but the New York case may be the only one to reach a conclusion before the November election, adding to the significance of the outcome. Though the legal and historical implications of the verdict are readily apparent, the political consequences are less so given its potential to reinforce rather than reshape already-hardened opinions about Trump.

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People react after former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was convicted in his criminal trial outside of Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 30, 2024. A New York jury convicted Donald Trump on all charges in his hush money case on May 30, 2024 in a seismic development barely five months ahead of the election where he seeks to recapture the White House. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

What was Trump charged with?

Trump was charged in New York City with 34 counts of falsifying business records, each a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

The case centered on allegations that Trump falsified internal records kept by his company to hide the true nature of payments made to his then-personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.

Cohen allegedly helped cover up Trump’s extramarital affairs with porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal by paying both of the women off. 

Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 and arranged for the publisher of the National Enquirer to pay McDougal $150,000 in a journalistically dubious practice known as "catch-and-kill."

Trump's company, the Trump Organization, then reimbursed Cohen and paid him bonuses and extra payments, all which prosecutors say were falsely logged as legal expenses in company records. Over several months, Cohen said the company paid him $420,000.

What did Stormy Daniels say? 

Daniels was on the stand for 7½ hours over two days. During questioning from prosecutors, she relayed in graphic detail what she said happened during her encounter with Trump, after the two met at a celebrity golf outing at Lake Tahoe in 2006 where sponsors included the adult film studio where she worked.

After accepting a dinner invitation from Trump, the pair convened in his penthouse and after using the restroom, she returned to find Trump sitting on the hotel bed in his underwear.

"I came out of the bathroom and saw an older man in his underwear that I wasn’t expecting to see there," she said.

She didn’t feel physically or verbally threatened but realized that he was "bigger and blocking the way," she testified.

"The next thing I know was: I was on the bed," and they were having sex, Daniels recalled. The encounter was brief but left her "shaking," she said. "I just wanted to leave," she testified. She also detailed that Trump did not use a condom. 

She described being offered $130,000 by Cohen, to remain silent after she said she was looking for ways to sell the story and get it out there in 2016.

What did Michael Cohen say? 

Cohen, the prosecution's star witness, spent days on the stand recounting what he said was Trump's role in authorizing the hush money payments to multiple parties. 

During his testimony, Cohen described Trump as anxious that stories alleging extramarital sex could harm his 2016 presidential campaign standing with female voters. Cohen said the then-candidate had directed him to suppress the stories, quoting him as saying exhortations including, "Just do it" and "We need to stop this from getting out."

When pushed by defense attorney Todd Blanche and despite admitting to previously lying to protect Trump, Cohen stood by his recollection of conversations with the former president about the hush money payment to Daniels, which was the center of the case.

"No doubt in your mind?" Blanche asked about whether Cohen specifically recalled having conversations with Trump about the Daniels matter. No doubt, Cohen said.

Other witnesses

Tabloid publisher David Pecker testified about agreeing to be the "eyes and ears" of Trump’s campaign by tipping Cohen off to negative stories, including Daniels’ claim.

Lawyer Keith Davidson talked about negotiating the deals and what he said was Cohen’s frustration after the Daniels deal that Trump still hadn’t repaid him.

The defense’s big witness was attorney Robert Costello, who testified late in the trial about negotiating to represent Cohen after the FBI raided Cohen’s properties in 2018.

The former president did not take the stand in his own defense.

Trump’s gag order

Judge Juan Merchan issued a gag order on March 26 after prosecutors raised concerns about Trump’s inclinations to attack people involved in his cases. Merchan expanded the order on April 1 after Trump lashed out on social media at the judge’s daughter, a Democratic political consultant, and made false claims about her. 

Trump was held in contempt of court and fined a total of $10,000 for violating the gag order 10 times over the course of the trial. The judge told Trump that future gag order violations could send him to jail.

Among the violations were Trump’s several attacks on Cohen, including an April 13 social media post asking, "Has disgraced attorney and felon Michael Cohen been prosecuted for LYING? Only TRUMP people get prosecuted by this Judge and these thugs!"

Merchan also flagged reposts Trump made of a New York Post article that described Cohen as a "serial perjurer," and a Trump post quoting Fox News host Jesse Watters’ claim that liberal activists were lying to infiltrate the jury.

Merchan's jail warning came after he ruled Trump had violated the gag order a final time when, in an April 22 interview with television channel Real America’s Voice, he criticized the speed at which the jury was picked and claimed, without evidence, that it was stacked with Democrats.

Trump attempted to have the gag order lifted but was denied by a mid-level appellate court. 

Trump’s other criminal cases


Todd Blanche, attorney for Donald Trump, from left, former US President Donald Trump, and Emil Bove, attorney, at Manhattan criminal court in New York, US, on Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Trump is currently entangled in three other criminal cases, with one out of Georgia, one out of Florida, and one out of Washington, D.C. 

RELATED: Trump’s other criminal cases and where they stand

Here’s a look at those additional cases:

Criminal case 1: State election interference 

Where: Georgia

Charges: Trump and 18 others are charged under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO. Trump also is charged with nine other criminal counts, including filing false documents, false statements and writings, and assorted conspiracy charges. The RICO charge alone carries a penalty of five to 20 years in prison.

About the case: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has charged Trump and 18 others with participating in a scheme to illegally try to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. The alleged scheme included several acts, including Trump’s infamous phone call in January 2021 to Georgia’s secretary of state, trying to replace Georgia’s Democratic presidential electors with ones who would vote for him, harassment of an election worker and copying data and software from election equipment without permission. 

Case status: Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee still has not set a trial date.

RELATED: Will hush-money guilty verdict impact Georgia case?

Criminal case 2: Federal election interference

Where: Washington, D.C.

Charges: Trump is charged with four counts of obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and conspiracy to prevent others from carrying out their constitutional rights. The most serious charges carry up to 20 years behind bars.

About the case: Special counsel Jack Smith charged Trump with conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the run-up to the Jan. 6 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. Prosecutors allege that Trump and his allies knowingly pushed election fraud lies and pressured state officials to overturn Biden’s win. Prosecutors also allege that Trump and his allies sought to exploit the pro-Trump mob’s attack on the Capitol as Congress members were certifying Biden’s victory. 

Case status: U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has not set a new date for this trial after postponing it. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments the week of April 22, 2024, over whether Trump can be prosecuted for election interference. 

In April, the Supreme Court heard arguments on Trump’s claim that he should be immune from prosecution in this case, but a decision was yet to be made. 

RELATED: Trump not immune from prosecution in 2020 election interference case, US appeals court says

Criminal Case 3: Classified documents

Where: Florida

Charges: Trump faces 40 felony counts related to both the possession of the documents, including crimes under the Espionage Act, and the alleged obstruction. The charges include willful retention of national defense information; conspiracy to obstruct justice; false statements and representations; and other counts. Each of the more than 30 willful retention counts carry a maximum 10-year sentence. 

About the case: Trump was once again charged by special counsel Jack Smith with illegally retaining classified documents he had taken from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago estate after he left office. 

Case status: The trial was set to start on May 20, 2024, in Fort Pierce, Florida, but the Trump-appointed judge overseeing the case postponed the trial date indefinitely, partially citing the NYC case. 

FOX News and The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.