Donald Trump

Trump convicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records

The verdict in the criminal case against Trump marks a victory for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Former President Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump Justin Lane - Pool/Getty Images

A jury voted to convict former President Donald Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records on Thursday, more than a month after his criminal hush money trial began in Manhattan and after just one day of deliberations. Trump is the first former president in history to be criminally convicted after leaving office. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11 at 10 a.m.

The announcement of a guilty verdict brings to a close a criminal trial in which prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office had made the case that the former president (and current presidential candidate) conspired with associates to make hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was a star witness in the trial. Trump became the first president, current or former, to be criminally indicted last year, when he was charged with 34 separate counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, a Class E felony.

“Today is an important day for accountability and the rule of law,” Cohen told City & State in a text message. “While it has been a difficult journey for me and my family, the truth always matters.”

How Trump’s potential conviction could affect his reelection bid in November has been the subject of much speculation, with one recent poll finding that for roughly two-thirds of voters, a guilty verdict wouldn’t affect their choice in November.

Trump vs. Bragg

At a press conference following the announcement of the verdict, Trump promised to appeal the verdict and gave an impromptu stump speech. “We're a nation in decline. Serious decline,” he said. “Millions and millions of people pouring into our country right now from prisons and from mental institutions, terrorists, and they’re taking over our country. We have a country that's in big trouble. But this was a rigged decision, right from day one. You have a conflicted judge who should have never been allowed to try this case. And we will fight for our constitution. This is long from over,” he told reporters outside the courtroom.

The Trump campaign also attempted to fundraise off the verdict, sending out an email to supporters with the message: “I was just convicted in a RIGGED political Witch Hunt Trial: I DID NOTHING WRONG! … But with your support at this moment in history, WE WILL WIN BACK THE WHITE HOUSE AND MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.”

In a statement, President Joe Biden’s campaign communications director Michael Tyler repeated a reaction shared widely by Democrats – including New York Attorney General Letitia James – following the ruling: No one is above the law. 

“Donald Trump has always mistakenly believed he would never face consequences for breaking the law for his own personal gain,” Tyler said. “But today’s verdict does not change the fact that the American people face a simple reality. 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.”

In a brief press conference on Thursday evening, Bragg kept a muted tone, thanking his colleagues as well as the members of the jury for their service. “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 doors – by following the facts and the law, and doing so without fear or favor,” he said.

Bragg’s decision to prosecute Trump, which his predecessor Cyrus Vance chose not to do after opening an initial investigation, was initially seen by some as risky. His theory of the case – that concealing hush money payments related to an election could amount to felony charges – was controversial and untested. But his success in securing a conviction marks a victory, and something of a vindication, for Bragg.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, one of Trump’s closest political allies, accused President Joe Biden of weaponizing the justice system against Trump. “Today’s verdict shows how corrupt, rigged, and unAmerican the weaponized justice system has become under Joe Biden and Democrats. I fully support President Trump appealing this decision and look forward to a higher New York Court to deliver justice and overturn this verdict,” she said in a statement.

Stefanik also attacked Bragg and the judge who presided over the case. “This sham trial was overseen by a corrupt and highly unethical Judge who is a Biden donor and whose own family has directly profited from this case. … The prosecution team that brought forward this case consisted of a Soros-funded Far Left Democrat District Attorney on a vendetta, Democrat political operatives, and Democrat donors.”

Safety and security

The trial has attracted a storm of media attention in Lower Manhattan over the last month, and members of the public have routinely turned out, either to protest Trump or to show their support for him.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, a frequent Trump critic who is co-leading New York’s efforts to win House seats, echoed other Democrats in a statement released on Thursday. "Today's verdict reaffirms that no one is above the law,” Hochul said in a statement. She added that her administration has been coordinating with law enforcement ahead of the verdict. “ We are committed to protecting the safety of all New Yorkers and the integrity of our judicial system."

New York City Mayor Eric Adams released a similar statement on Thursday evening focused less on Trump and more on how the city is preparing for potential protests. “Today, a jury of 12 New Yorkers registered their verdict. Our criminal justice process must be respected,” Adams said. “As we await the next steps, New Yorkers should rest assured that the NYPD stands ready to respond to any and all circumstances, including large-scale protests. While peaceful protests and assembly will always be protected, we will not be a city of any form of lawlessness.”

Democratic state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urged vigilance regarding the safety of the judge, jury and other court staff. “The safety and security of the judge, court (personnel), and jury are of the utmost importance in the coming days and weeks,” Hoylman-Sigal said. “Their protection, and this ruling, will demonstrate to the nation, and to the world, that we are indeed a nation governed by the rule of law.”

Trump still faces three additional criminal cases, including a case in Georgia related to alleged attempts to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss, as well as a case brought by the Justice Department alleging election interference and an additional case brought by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith alleging that Trump illegally retained classified documents after his presidency.

Earlier this year, the New York state attorney general’s office won a victory against Trump in a civil fraud trial. A state judge found that the former president had conspired to fraudulently inflate his net worth and ordered him to pay north of $355 million.

Congressional candidates weigh in

Republican Rep. Nick LaLota, who represents the NY-1 swing district on Long Island, accused Bragg of engaging in a political prosecution and even called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to pardon Trump. “The best way to unwind Alvin Bragg’s political prosecution and today’s conviction is for Governor Hochul to immediately announce her intention to pardon President Trump and pre-emptively commute any sentence. To not do so is to allow America to become a banana republic,” he wrote in a post on X. (Hochul has never mentioned any potential pardon and there is little reason to think she would ever consider it.)

John Avlon, the former CNN anchor who hopes to unseat LaLota, accused the congressman of hypocrisy. “That’s not the ‘law and order’ Washington Republicans like Nick LaLota like to talk and Tweet about,” he said in a statement.

Other Democratic candidates for Congress also attacked their Republican opponents over their support for the newly-convicted Trump. “So much for Mike Lawler convincing Lower Hudson Valley voters that he actually believes in law and order,” NY-17 candidate Mondaire Jones said in a statement.

For his part, Lawler accused Democratic leaders including Bragg of hyperpartisanship and said that “this is a sad day for America.” 

Fellow Hudson Valley Republican Rep. Marc Molinaro, who is also facing a Democratic challenge in the swing NY-19 district, called the verdict “bad for democracy.” “The leading contender for the presidency doesn’t deserve to be behind bars,” he said in a statement.