Donald Trump guilty verdict sparks outrage, elation

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Supporters of former president Donald Trump outside Trump Tower after he was convicted in his hush money case (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP)

 Donald Trump became the first U.S. president to be convicted of a crime on Thursday when a New York jury found him guilty of falsifying documents to cover up a payment to silence a porn star ahead of the 2016 election. After two days of deliberation, the 12-member jury pronounced Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts he faced. Trump watched the jurors dispassionately as they were polled to confirm the unanimous verdict. Justice Juan Merchan set sentencing for July 11, just days before the Republican Party is scheduled to formally nominate Trump for president ahead of the Nov. 5 election. The crime of falsifying business documents carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison, though those convicted often receive shorter sentences, fines or probation. Incarceration would not legally prevent him from campaigning, or taking office if he were to win.

Donald Trump’s historic conviction in his hush money trial drew angry reactions Thursday from supporters of the Republican former president, and elation among his detractors.

“I think it’s going to make him more popular with the American people because they’re seeing how he’s being targeted and mistreated,” said Matthew Turner, a New York resident.

“They’re targeting this man because he’s about to be president again,” Turner told AFP outside the Manhattan courthouse where Trump was found guilty by a jury of 34 counts of falsifying business records.

John McGuigan, another Trump supporter, said he was “outraged.”

“They convicted an innocent man today,” McGuigan said. “Meanwhile, rapists and murderers are running around the streets of New York.”

Vivica Jimenez, who was among a group of anti-Trump protesters at the court, had a far different reaction, saying she was “happy and relieved” with the guilty verdict.

“It’s been a long time waiting for this,” Jimenez said. “It’s very emotional.”

Jamie Bauer, another anti-Trump protester, also praised the verdict.

“Justice is being served and Trump is being held accountable,” Bauer said.

Edith Silva, 23, a banquet worker in Houston, Texas, also welcomed the conviction of the 77-year-old former president, who faces additional charges in a separate case of seeking to overturn the 2020 election won by Joe Biden.

“I’m glad. He’s getting exactly what he deserves,” Silva told AFP. “And I hope he doesn’t get to run for office again.”

Katelyn Hagen, 28, a medical device manager in Houston, vehemently disagreed.

“I think the entire thing is corrupt and is a witch hunt since day one,” she said. “They want to do everything in their power for Trump not to run against Biden because they know that he will beat Biden.”

– ‘Beautiful!’ –

Lee Downey, 58, interviewed on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, welcomed the guilty verdict.

“Beautiful!” Downey told AFP. “He has been a criminal for decades. They finally got him.”

Michelle Carter, 44, who was also in Los Angeles, said she believed Trump’s conviction was “justified” but “nothing’s going to come of it.”

“He won’t see any time,” Carter said.

Thomas Poundstone, 65, a professor from California, told AFP outside the White House in Washington that the evidence against Trump was “pretty clear.”

“But I can’t see this ultimately being able to dislodge that loyal Republican base,” Poundstone said.

Susan Prolman, a 59-year-old Washington resident, said Trump has been “committing crimes his whole life, and it wasn’t until recently that it finally caught up with him.”

The conviction may hurt Trump’s reelection hopes, said Diane Normandin, a tourist visiting the capital.

“Are the American people going to want to elect a convicted felon as a president?” she asked.

Several Miami residents of Cuban origin interviewed outside a Cuban restaurant which Trump visited last year declared their undying support for the brash tycoon.

“I am going to vote for him a hundred times,” said Mickel Perz Ruiz, 47. “He is the only one who can move the country forward.”

Miguel Zambrera, 58, another Trump supporter, alleged that the case was brought by Democrats and “the jury was majority Democrat.”

“We are full of communists here and if America does not wake up communism will come here and destroy it,” Zambrera said.

SOURCE: AFP, AGENCIES

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