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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Trump becomes first former US president convicted in nation’s history

Courtesy Michael Vadon (Creative Commons)
Former President Donald Trump speaking to a crowd at the New York City Marriot Marquis prior to being elected President in 2016. Photo licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Former President Donald J. Trump was found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records on May 30, becoming the first former president of the United States to be criminally convicted.

Upon leaving the courtroom, Trump called the trial a “rigged disgrace.” His legal team indicated they plan to appeal the verdict in the coming weeks and months. 

“This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge,” said Trump. “We’ll fight till the end and we’ll win. Because our country’s gone to hell.”

Trump was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on March 30 on 34 counts of falsifying business records related to covering up hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels during Trump’s 2016 election campaign. 

In a memo released shortly after Trump was arraigned on April 4, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg asserted that Trump concealed damaging information from the American public while running for office in 2016.

“Trump and others employed a ‘catch and kill’ scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects,” said Bragg. “We cannot allow New York businesses to manipulate their records to cover up criminal conduct.”

The trial began on April 15, with 22 witnesses taking the stand for nearly seven weeks. The prosecution called 20 witnesses including Daniels, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, former National Enquirer editor David Pecker, and former Trump aide Hope Hicks. The defense only called two witnesses during the trial: paralegal Danny Sitko and former Cohen advisor Robert Costello. 

On the stand, Daniels confirmed that she accepted a $130,000 payment from Cohen on Trump’s behalf just weeks before the 2016 election. She noted that the payment came after the Access Hollywood tape scandal, during which Trump made many vulgar comments about women.

Under cross-examination by Trump’s attorneys, Daniels said that if Trump is found guilty, he should “absolutely” be given jail time. 

Cohen gave a detailed account of how the hush money was paid to Daniels at Trump’s direction and with his approval.

“[Trump] stated to me that he had spoken to some friends, some individuals, very smart people and that [the hush money] is $130,000,” said Cohen. “[Trump] expressed to me: ‘Just do it. Go meet up with Allen Weisselberg and figure this whole thing out.’” 

Weisselberg served as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Trump Organization and pleaded guilty to tax evasion before being sentenced to five months in prison. 

Pecker looked for damaging stories about Trump during his time at the National Enquirer and testified that he called Cohen each time such a story appeared. Pecker additionally said that he planned to publish positive stories on Trump and negative ones against his opponents. 

“If there were any rumors in the marketplace about Mr. Trump or his family or any negative stories that were coming out or anything that I heard overall, I would call Michael Cohen directly,” said Pecker. 

The prosecution and defense rested their cases on May 20 and 21, respectively, with closing arguments being delivered on May 28. The jury deliberated for less than 12 hours between May 29 and 30 before delivering a unanimous guilty verdict. 

Trump is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11, each count carrying a maximum sentence of four years in prison. It is currently unclear whether District Attorney Bragg will recommend a prison sentence for Trump.

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About the Contributor
DJ Mara
DJ Mara, Kasteel Well Bureau Co-Chief

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  • L

    Linda James / Jun 2, 2024 at 9:01 pm

    Love knowing that Americans still have a great judicial system!!! N.Y. has been trying to get the trumps since the 195to get “the Trumps” since the 1950’s!!! FINALLY YOU CAN STFU N SIT DOWN!!! (maybe, w/o a gag order…who knows)