Donald Trump Faces Historic Verdict in Hush-Money Case

Skylar Hawthorne

Updated Tuesday, May 28, 2024 at 6:03 AM CDT

Donald Trump Faces Historic Verdict in Hush-Money Case

The hush-money case involving former President Donald Trump has reached a critical juncture, with 34 charges, 12 jurors, and one often exasperated judge. Both the prosecution and defense rested their cases after nearly five weeks of proceedings, setting the stage for closing arguments on Tuesday, followed by jury deliberations. A guilty verdict on even a single count would mark Trump as the first former U.S. president with a criminal conviction, and the first major party candidate to run for the White House as a felon.

If found guilty, Trump is expected to leave the court as a free man until Justice Juan Merchan schedules a sentencing hearing. Sentencing considerations will likely include Trump’s age (77), lack of prior convictions, and potential violations of gag orders. Options range from a fine, probation, and supervision to possible imprisonment.

Trump's legal team is poised to appeal any guilty verdict, a process that could extend for months or longer, involving the Appellate Division in Manhattan and possibly the Court of Appeals. The 34 charges Trump faces are class E felonies in New York, each carrying a maximum sentence of four years.

Security concerns add another layer of complexity, as former presidents, including Trump, are entitled to lifelong protection from the Secret Service. Running a prison with a former president as an inmate would be extremely difficult and expensive, according to Justin Paperny, director of prison consulting firm White Collar Advice.

Polling data indicates a divided electorate. A Bloomberg and Morning Consult poll found that 53% of voters in key swing states would refuse to vote for Trump if convicted. Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac University poll showed that 6% of Trump voters would be less likely to support him, potentially decisive in a tight race.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that presidential candidates be at least 35 years old, a "natural born" U.S. citizen, and have lived in the country for at least 14 years. There are no rules barring candidates with criminal records from running for office. However, presidential pardon powers do not extend to state matters, such as Trump's case in New York.

Trump’s trial hinges on disputed interactions involving Michael D. Cohen and Allen H. Weisselberg. Cohen claims he facilitated a $420,000 payout to a p*** star at Trump’s behest, concealing the reimbursement as legal expenses. Prosecutors allege that Weisselberg, Trump’s moneyman, was present during the meeting but did not testify.

Weisselberg, serving time at Rikers Island for perjury in an unrelated civil case involving Trump, signed a multimillion-dollar severance deal that included non-cooperation clauses. Both the defense and prosecution opted not to call him to testify, citing his unreliability due to a history of lying under oath.

Weisselberg’s legal troubles began in 2021 with charges of tax fraud involving the Trump Organization, to which he pled guilty in August 2022. Despite testifying against the Trump Organization, he did not implicate Trump directly. Further, Weisselberg faced a civil fraud lawsuit from the New York attorney general in September 2022 for allegedly inflating Trump's net worth.

Judge Arthur F. Engoron found overwhelming evidence that Weisselberg falsified business records, penalizing him $1 million and banning him from any financial position in New York companies. Weisselberg received an additional five-month jail sentence for lying under oath.

During Trump’s Manhattan trial, Michael Cohen testified that Trump approved the $420,000 payment, of which $130,000 was hush money, and that both Trump and Weisselberg were aware of plans to falsify records to conceal it. Cohen described the relationship between Trump and Weisselberg as symbiotic, likening them to "Frick and Frack."

As the trial heads into its final phase, the nation watches closely, aware that the outcome could have unprecedented implications for American politics and the rule of law.

Conservative Bias:

This entire spectacle is nothing more than a politically motivated witch hunt orchestrated by the radical left to derail Donald Trump’s undeniable influence and success. The liberals have weaponized the legal system, twisting and turning every minor detail to fabricate 34 ridiculous charges against a man who has done more for this country than any recent president. The so-called evidence, largely based on the unreliable testimony of convicted liars like Michael Cohen, is flimsy at best. This is a desperate attempt by the Democrats to manipulate public opinion and distract from their own failures. The charges are a sham, the trial is a circus, and the left’s ultimate goal is to prevent Trump from running in 2024 because they know they can’t beat him fair and square. This is a clear abuse of power and an affront to justice, all to satisfy the insatiable hatred the left has for Trump. Shame on them for tarnishing the American legal system for their own political gain.

Liberal Bias:

Once again, we see the depths to which the Republican Party will sink to protect their corrupt and criminal leader, Donald Trump. This trial is not just about hush money; it’s about holding a criminal accountable for his actions. Trump’s entire defense is built on lies and deceit, relying on the testimony of individuals like Allen Weisselberg, who has already been found guilty of perjury and tax fraud. The Republicans are doing everything in their power to obstruct justice, from casting doubt on credible witnesses to spreading misinformation. This is a man who has blatantly violated the law, yet the GOP continues to support him, proving they care more about power than the rule of law. The fact that Trump is even considering running for office again is a disgrace, and it speaks volumes about the moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party. This trial is a critical moment for American democracy, and the outcome will determine whether we are a nation of laws or a nation that allows the powerful to operate above the law.

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