Contact Form

    News Details

    Donald Trump tries to turn his guilty verdict into campaign fuel and attacks criminal justice system
    • May 31, 2024

    By MICHELLE L. PRICE and JILL COLVIN (Associated Press)

    NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump launched into attacks on the judge in his criminal trial and continued to undermine New York’s criminal justice system Friday as he tried to repackage his conviction on 34 felony charges as fuel, not an impediment, to his latest White House bid.

    Trump spoke to reporters at his namesake tower in Manhattan on Friday, his return to campaigning a day after he was convicted of trying to illegally influence the 2016 election by falsifying business records to hide a hush money payment to a porn actor who claimed they had sex. His lawyers and allies described him as defiant and ready to fight a verdict they argue is illegitimate and driven by politics.

    “If they can do this to me, they can do this to anyone,” Trump said. “These are very bad people.”

    No former president or presumptive party nominee has ever faced a felony conviction or the prospect of prison time, and Trump is expected to keep his legal troubles central to his campaign. He has long argued without evidence that the four indictments against him were orchestrated by Democratic President Joe Biden to try to keep him out of the White House.

    “There is nobody who is more defiant,” said Trump spokesman Jason Miller on Fox News hours after the verdict was read. “He’s ready to get out there and start fighting again.”

    He chose to start Friday in the atrium of Trump Tower, the brass and rose marble lobby where he descended his golden escalator to announce his 2016 campaign nine years ago next month. Outside, on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, supporters gathered across the street were flying a giant red “TRUMP OR DEATH” sign that was flapping in front of a high-end boutique.

    On Friday morning, his campaign announced it had raised $34.8 million as donations poured in after the verdict. That’s more than $1 million for each felony charge and more than his political operation raised in January and February combined.

    Trump and his campaign had been preparing for a guilty verdict for days, even as they held out hope for a hung jury. On Tuesday, Trump railed that not even Mother Teresa, the nun and saint, could beat the charges, which he repeatedly labeled as “rigged.”

    His top aides on Wednesday released a memo in which they insisted a verdict would have no impact on the election, whether Trump was convicted or acquitted.

    The news nonetheless landed with a jolt. Trump, his team and reporters at the courthouse had been under the impression that the jury on Thursday would wrap up deliberations for the day at 4:30 p.m. Trump sat smiling and chatting with his lawyers as the proceedings seemed to be coming to a close.

    Trump had spent the hours before the verdict was announced sequestered in the private courtroom where he had spent breaks throughout the trial, huddled with his attorneys and campaign aides, eating from a revolving lunch menu of McDonald’s, pizza, and subs.

    As the jury was deciding his fate, he filled his time making calls, firing off social media missives and chatting with friends, including developer Steve Witkoff, who joined him in court, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who is considered a top vice presidential contender.

    In a sign that they expected deliberations to continue, Trump’s holding room was outfitted with a television Thursday, according to two people familiar with the setup who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the case.

    Instead, Merchan announced that a verdict had been reached. Thirty minutes later, Trump listened as the jury delivered a guilty verdict on every count. Trump sat stone-faced while the verdict was read.

    Related Articles

    National Politics |

    Reactions to Trump’s guilty verdict underscore how politically purple Orange County has become

    National Politics |

    Following conviction, Trump still on for Beverly Hills, Newport Beach fundraisers next week

    National Politics |

    With Trump convicted in New York, what happens next?

    National Politics |

    Can Donald Trump still vote for himself for president in November?

    National Politics |

    Former President Trump’s guilty verdict elicits strong reactions from Southern California lawmakers

    His campaign fired off a flurry of fundraising appeals, and GOP allies rallied to his side. One text message called him a “political prisoner,” even though he hasn’t yet found out if he will be sentenced to prison. The campaign also began selling black “Make America Great Again” caps to reflect a “dark day in history.”

    Aides reported an immediate rush of contributions so intense that WinRed, the platform the campaign uses for fundraising, crashed. The $34.8 million raised Thursday did not include what Trump collected at his in-person fundraiser or any donations that continued to come in online Friday.

    “President Trump and our campaign are immensely grateful from this outpouring of support from patriots across our country,” Trump’s senior campaign advisers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles said in a statement. “President Trump is fighting to save our nation and November 5th is the day Americans will deliver the real verdict.”

    Trump has long complained that the trial limited his campaign appearances for several weeks. “I want to campaign,” he had told reporters Thursday morning before a verdict was reached.

    It is unclear, however, how much Trump’s schedule will ramp up in the days ahead. He held only a handful of public campaign events as the trial unfolded, despite the fact that he had Wednesdays, as well as evenings and weekends, to do what he wished.

    He’s set in the upcoming two months to have his first debate with Biden, announce a running mate and formally accept his party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention.

    But before he goes to Milwaukee for the RNC, Trump will have to return to court on July 11 for sentencing. He could face penalties ranging from a fine or probation up to four years in prison.

    ​ Orange County Register