President Trump found guilty. What happens now?

News & Politics

On Thursday afternoon, former President Donald Trump was found guilty of 34 felony counts related to so-called hush-money payments to his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, in connection with an alleged affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Legal analyst Jonathan Turley claimed the verdict “saddened” him. “I had hoped that the jurors might redeem the integrity of a system that has been used for political purposes,” Turley wrote on X.

So, what does this conviction mean for Trump in the immediate future with Election Day 2024 looming on the horizon?

Sentencing

Judge Juan Merchan requested that the prosecution and defense file their motions, which will include sentencing recommendations, by June 13.

She added that a jail sentence for Trump ‘would have political implications that … Judge Merchan would want to avoid.’

He also scheduled Trump’s sentencing hearing for 10 a.m. on July 11. Trump’s lawyers have the option of asking for a later date, perhaps even after the November election, but such a request is likely to be denied.

Between now and July 11, Trump will be able to move about as he pleases. He will also no longer have to adhere to gag-order restrictions which previously prevented him from discussing witnesses or the judge and his family members. Trump has previously noted that Merchan’s daughter is a political consultant who raises funds for high-profile Democrats such as Rep. Adam Schiff of California.

Trump will also likely participate in a pre-sentencing interview with a probation officer, who will then submit a sentencing report to Merchan.

Judge Merchan will have almost exclusive authority to determine Trump’s sentence, and he has several options to consider, including jail.

Though Trump has been convicted of 34 felonies, they are nonviolent, class E felonies, the least serious in the state of New York, and often don’t result in jail time. Trump also has no prior criminal record and at 77 years old is not likely to be a threat to the public, all factors that could play in his favor.

Cheryl Bader, a law professor at Fordham University, thinks it’s “unlikely” that Merchan will give Trump time behind bars. “Given that he is a former president, has a Secret Service detail and is also the presumptive Republican nominee, I think a term of incarceration would be logistically very difficult,” she told the Guardian,

She added that a jail sentence for Trump “would have political implications that … Judge Merchan would want to avoid.”

Merchan has previously expressed a disinclination to send Trump to jail. On May 6, after Trump had allegedly violated aspects of the gag order issued against him, Merchan told Trump: “The last thing I want to do is to put you in jail. You are the former president of the United States and possibly the next president, as well.” Merchan ultimately ended up fining Trump $1,000 per alleged violation, as Blaze News previously reported.

In addition to a possible jail sentence, Trump could receive probation, fines, and/or community service. “I would like to see community service – picking up trash on the subway,” said Karen Friedman Agnifilo, a former top prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Appeal

Whatever the sentence, Trump will almost assuredly appeal his conviction. The first step would be to file an appeal in the New York Appellate Division’s First Judicial Department. If that court upholds the conviction, he can then appeal to the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court.

Should that court also uphold the conviction, Trump may even take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, to have SCOTUS justices agree to take it, Trump’s attorneys must first convince them that the case, decided by a Manhattan jury, is a federal or constitutional matter.

Such processes can take months or even years. During that time, the actual imposition of Trump’s sentence is likely to be delayed.

Campaign

The Constitution does not bar felons from running for president, so this conviction should have no bearing on Trump’s attempt at securing a second term this November.

If anything, Trump seems more determined than ever to make his case to the American voters.

“This was a rigged, disgraceful trial,” he said after the verdict on Thursday. “The real verdict is going to be November 5 by the people. And they know what happened here, and everybody knows what happened here. You have a Soros-backed DA, and the whole thing, we didn’t do a thing wrong.”

“It’s okay. I’m fighting for our country,” he continued. “I’m fighting for our Constitution. Our whole country is being rigged right now. This was done by the Biden administration in order to move or hurt an opponent, a political opponent. And I think it’s just a disgrace. And we’ll keep fighting; we’ll fight to the end, and we’ll win. Because our country has gone to hell.”

Should he win and take office next January, Trump will be unable to pardon himself in this case since it is currently a state issue, not a federal one.

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