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Trump guilty verdict prompts sharp reactions from lawmakers

Conviction of a presumed Republican presidential nominee is likely to keep reverberating on Capitol Hill

Trump leaves Manhattan Criminal Court after he was convicted Thursday on 34 felony charges of falsifying business records.
Trump leaves Manhattan Criminal Court after he was convicted Thursday on 34 felony charges of falsifying business records. (Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

Donald Trump told reporters immediately after a jury found him guilty on 34 felony charges that this “is long from over,” and the reactions to the verdict from members of Congress and President Joe Biden’s campaign underscored how the conviction of the presumed Republican presidential nominee is likely to reverberate during the coming months.

Trump was found guilty Thursday on 34 charges of falsifying business records in order to hide reimbursement of payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep a story about them having sex from emerging before the 2016 election. His sentencing was set for July 11.

Shortly after the verdict, Trump spoke to reporters, calling the trial a “disgrace” and claiming without evidence that the Biden administration pushed state prosecutors to pursue the case. Trump has repeatedly claimed his legal troubles stem from Democratic efforts to take out a political opponent.

Trump said that “we’re a nation in serious decline” due to immigration and claimed that millions of people have come into the country from prisons, mental institutions or are terrorists.

“We have a country that’s in big trouble, but this is a rigged decision right from Day One. With a conflicted judge you should have never been allowed to try this case. Never. And we will fight for our Constitution,” Trump said. “This is long from over.”

Trump did not take questions from reporters. Shortly after the verdict, the Trump campaign sent out a fundraising plea calling the former president a “POLITICAL PRISONER,” claiming the trial had been rigged and asking for a donation to stop “TOTAL TYRANNY.”

The Biden campaign released a statement that said the nation “saw that no one is above the law” and used the opportunity to warn against a Trump victory in November.

“There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box. Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president,” the Biden campaign said.

“The threat Trump poses to our democracy has never been greater. He is running an increasingly unhinged campaign of revenge and retribution, pledging to be a dictator ‘on day one’ and calling for our Constitution to be ‘terminated’ so he can regain and keep power,” the campaign said.

GOP reactions

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina issued statements that they thought the conviction will be overturned on appeal.

“The Manhattan legal system has become a joke in every sense of the word,” Graham said. “This is a mockery of justice. I fear we have opened up Pandora’s box on the presidency itself.”

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., who was among key Republicans who used the power of their office to defend Trump in the court of public opinion, in a statement on social media called it was a “shameful day in American history.”

“Democrats cheered as they convicted the leader of the opposing party on ridiculous charges, predicated on the testimony of a disbarred, convicted felon,” Johnson wrote. “This was a purely political exercise, not a legal one.”

Johnson also said Trump will appeal “this absurd verdict — and he WILL WIN!”

Another member of House GOP leadership, Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., wrote on social media that Democrats “just pulled off the biggest sham in U.S. history.”

“The American people won’t forget this corrupt, two-tiered system of justice and will issue the real verdict at the ballot box in November,” he said in the post.

One of Trump’s most vocal defenders in Congress, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, called the verdict “a travesty of justice” in a statement Thursday.

“The Manhattan kangaroo court shows what happens when our justice system is weaponized by partisan prosecutors in front of a biased judge with an unfair process, designed to keep President Trump off the campaign trail and avoid bringing attention to President Biden’s failing radical policies,” the statement said.

Rep. Mike Collins, R-Ga., implied there would be a political tit-for-tat in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Time for Red State AGs and DAs to get busy,” Collins said.

Democratic reactions

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., praised the verdict in a statement Thursday, saying anyone convicted of 34 felony counts should not be president.

“It’s only in honest courtrooms that the former president has been unable to lie and bully his way out of trouble. Americans trust juries for good reason,” Whitehouse said.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who led the now-disbanded House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, wrote in a social media post: “Justice has prevailed!”

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, a California Democrat who also served on that panel and is running for Senate, wrote in a social media post that the rule of law had prevailed.

“Today, twelve ordinary American citizens found a former president guilty of dozens of felonies,” Schiff wrote. “Despite his efforts to distract, delay, and deny — justice arrived for Donald Trump all the same.”

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