UNITED STATES NEWS

The Latest | Trump delivers rambling response to his hush money conviction

May 31, 2024, 3:21 AM | Updated: 10:50 am

NEW YORK (AP) — A day after a New York jury delivered a historic guilty verdict in Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee held a press conference Friday where he spoke publicly about the conviction and his White House bid.

Following his conviction on Thursday, Trump had angrily denounced the trial as a “disgrace,” telling reporters he was an “innocent man.”

His supporters were quick to echo those sentiments while many of his critics — political and otherwise — applauded the verdict.

Trump was convicted of 34 felony charges in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election through a hush money payment to a porn actor who said the two had sex. The hush money trial and subsequent conviction mark the first time a former U.S. president has ever been tried or convicted in a criminal case.

He still faces three other felony indictments, but the New York case was the first to reach trial and likely the only one ahead of the November election.

Judge Juan M. Merchan scheduled Trump’s sentencing for July 11. The charges are punishable by up to four years in prison, though the punishment would ultimately be up to Merchan. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg declined to say whether prosecutors would seek prison time.

Currently:

— What to know about the guilty verdict in Trump’s hush money trial

— Photos: A visual look at the past seven weeks at Donald Trump’s hush money trial

— How Trump’s conviction affects the 2024 presidential race

— Trump could still vote for himself if he’s not in prison on Election Day

— Trump investigations: The status of the cases brought against him

Here’s the latest:

BIDEN CRITICIZES TRUMP’S RESPONSE TO GUILTY VERDICT

President Joe Biden said that Donald Trump’s response to the jury’s guilty verdict is “irresponsible.”

Trump has claimed falsely the trial against him was rigged and connected to the Biden administration.

Biden said from the White House on Friday that the jury was chosen like any other in the U.S., and they heard five weeks of testimony and Trump had “every opportunity” to defend himself. He said no one is above the law.

“It’s reckless, it’s dangerous, it’s irresponsible for anyone to say this is rigged just because they don’t like the verdict,” Biden said.

TRUMP’S FALSE AND MISLEADING CLAIMS ABOUT BORDER CROSSINGS

Donald Trump claimed on Friday that “record levels of terrorists have come into our country.”

While the number of foreigners on the terrorist watch list has increased, federal immigration authorities say they “are very uncommon” and a small fraction of the total number of migrants who cross the border.

From October 2022 to September 2023, the U.S. Border Patrol reported seeing 169, compared to 98 the previous year. Since October 2023, the Border Patrol has reported 80 encounters.

The former president also claimed, like he has done in recent speeches, that Chinese migrants are arriving in the U.S. to build an army, saying 29,000 have arrived in the past few months.

The U.S. has seen a larger than tenfold rise in the number of Chinese migrants with 37,000 of them being arrested in 2023, but there has been no evidence that they have tried to mount a military force or training network.

Interviews with some of these migrants reveal they were coming to escape the country or looking for a better life.

PROTESTORS AND SUPPORTERS CROWD THE EXTERIOR OF TRUMP TOWER

Hundreds of people remained gathered outside Trump Tower in Manhattan after Donald Trump’s press conference on Friday.

Supporters and detractors of the former president waved flags, shouting and chanting against a backdrop of Fifth Avenue luxury stores including Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani and Prada.

RUNNING FOR U.S. PRESIDENT FROM PRISON? EUGENE V. DEBS DID IT, A CENTURY AGO

Even if Donald Trump’s sentence, scheduled to be delivered July 11, includes time behind bars, he wouldn’t even be the first candidate to run for U.S. president while imprisoned.

That piece of history belongs to Eugene V. Debs, who ran on the Socialist Party ticket in 1920 — and garnered almost a million votes, or about 3 percent.

The circumstances are obviously different. Debs, despite his influence and fame, was effectively a fringe candidate that year; Trump has already held the office and is running as the near-certain nominee of one of the country’s two major political parties.

But there are similarities, too. Read more about Debs here.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS DEMAND THAT MANHATTAN DA, INVESTIGATOR APPEAR BEFORE SELECT COMMITTEE

House Republicans announced Friday that they will demand that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Matthew Colangelo, the lead investigator of the Donald Trump hush money case, appear before lawmakers next month.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said that the House Select Committee on weaponization will host a hearing with the two witnesses on June 13.

Jordan, one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, had previously opened an investigation into Bragg and his case against the former president. He and other lawmakers also traveled to New York City in April 2023 for a hearing on the prosecution’s case.

TRUMP: ‘WE’RE LIVING IN A FASCIST STATE’

Donald Trump circled back on Friday to a lot of the same authoritarian themes he has repeatedly focused on in speeches and rallies, painting the U.S. under President Joe Biden as a “corrupt” and “fascist” nation.

He called the committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol “thugs” and also called Biden a “Manchurian candidate,” a phrase implying the president is corrupt and being used as a puppet by a political enemy.

“They’re destroying our country,” Trump said. “We’re living in a fascist state.”

TRUMP SPOKE FOR 33 MINUTES

He’s largely been off the campaign trail, but Donald Trump’s posttrial remarks served as a condensed version of many of the themes he traditionally hits during his rally speeches.

Deviating from his vow to appeal the hush money verdict and characterization of the trial as a “scam,” Trump also repeatedly went after President Joe Biden for failures on border security and “record levels of terrorists who come into our country.”

He also falsely claimed that tens of thousands of military-age Chinese men have recently come into the U.S., looking “like perfect soldiers.”

Since late 2022 — when China’s three-year COVID-19 lockdown began to lift — the U.S. has seen a sharp rise in the number of Chinese migrants. But there has been no evidence that they have tried to mount a military force or training network.

As is standard at his rallies, Trump also appealed to supporters to contribute financially to his campaign.

TRUMP WRAPS PRESS CONFERENCE

Donald Trump has wrapped his Friday press conference where he delivered a rambling response to the guilty verdict in his hush money trial a day before.

TRUMP CRITICIZES COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE FOR INVESTIGATION JAN. 6 CAPITOL RIOT

As he characterized what he sees as a failing country, Donald Trump on Friday also briefly hearkened back to Jan. 6, 2021, and what he said are false accusations that are at the center of another case against him.

He leveled specific critiques toward members of Congress who held committee meetings probing the Capitol assault. Trump also denied that he had tried to physically direct a Secret Service agent to drive him to the Capitol, which was part of testimony before the Select Committee.

He further called former GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, among his critics, “the most emotional human being I think I’ve ever seen.”

TRUMP LIGHTS INTO BIDEN

Donald Trump called President Joe Biden “the worst president in the history of our country” during a press conference late Thursday morning.

He further labeled him as the “most incompetent” and “most dishonest.”

“You take a look at the way he treats China, Russia, so many others,” Trump said. “He’s a very big danger to our country.”

TRUMP CITES HIGH NEW YORK CRIME RATE, BUT DATA SAYS OTHERWISE

At a press conference on Friday, former President Donald Trump said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg should be looking at crime, saying it is “rampant” in New York City, “at levels no one has ever seen before.”

He cited a man being stabbed by a machete in Times Square on Thursday.

However, crime in New York City is nowhere near the levels seen in the 1990s. The latest crime data from the NYPD shows major crime reports are down this year compared to the same period last year. Through the first week in May, the number of murders was down more than 15% from the same period last year, and down 26% from 2021.

Shootings have dropped 41% since 2021.

TRUMP TOUTS FUNDRAISING NUMBERS

Donald Trump said Friday that he thinks he broke a record in the history of politics by raising $39 million dollars since the guilty verdict in his criminal hush money trial was announced.

He said it happened over 10 hours with small money donors.

Earlier Friday morning, his campaign noted a different figure: $34.8 million.

TRUMP REPEATS FALSE CLAIM ABOUT CAMPAIGN FINANCE

Donald Trump incorrectly stated during a press conference that the New York prosecutors who charged him in his criminal trial were not allowed to look into alleged federal campaign finance violations.

Manhattan prosecutors didn’t charge Trump with federal violations — that’s not allowed — but they listed the allegations as one of three “unlawful acts” that jurors were asked to consider as they weighed the charges. To convict Trump, jurors had to find that not only did he falsify business records, but also that he did so to commit or conceal another crime.

Prosecutors said the other crime was a violation of a state election law barring conspiracies to promote or prevent an election by unlawful means. Jurors then had three alleged “unlawful means” to choose from.

One of them involved federal campaign finance violations.

TRUMP TESTS THE LI
MITS OF HIS GAG ORDER

During a press conference Friday morning, Donald Trump tested the limits of the order that prohibits him from publicly critiquing witnesses in his hush money case — including Michael Cohen.

Trump called his former fixer “a sleazebag,” adding, “everybody knows that.”

Cohen testified against Trump during the trial, saying his former boss directed him to handle the hush money payments and was aware of all that he was doing.

Trump didn’t use Cohen’s name, saying, “I’m not allowed to use his name because of the gag order.”

Calling Cohen “effective” as a lawyer, he said the former lawyer “got into trouble because of outside deals” involving taxi cabs.

THE PROSECUTION’S ‘SALACIOUS’ WITNESS

Donald Trump on Friday called the witnesses who testified against him “salacious” and said their words against him demonstrated that the entire case was politically motivated.

“It had nothing to do with a case, but it had to do with politics,” Trump said.

Stormy Daniels, the porn actor at the center of the hush money case against Trump, gave several days worth of testimony that included intimate details of their alleged 2006 encounter.

TRUMP WANTED TO TESTIFY — AND COULD HAVE IF HE HAD CHOSEN TO

Donald Trump insisted Friday that he wanted to testify in his criminal trial — and he could have, had he chosen to do so. All criminal defendants have a constitutional right to testify on their own behalf. By opting not to testify, Trump waived that right.

Trump said he wanted to testify but claimed the judge wanted to go into every detail of the case and that he feared being prosecuted for perjury if he made a verbal misstep.

“I would have liked to have testified,” he said. “But you would have said something out of whack like, ‘It was a beautiful sunny day, and it was actually raining out.’”

TRUMP REPEATS UNFOUNDED CLAIM CONNECTING BIDEN AND HUSH MONEY PROSECUTION

Donald Trump repeated unfounded claims Friday morning that President Joe Biden and the Justice Department influenced his New York hush money prosecution.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is a state-level prosecutor. His office, which prosecuted the hush money case, operates independently and is not under the direction of Biden or the federal government.

TRUMP RIPS INTO BIDEN, MERCHAN

Donald Trump began his day-after-verdict press conference by launching into a critique of his general election opponent, as well as the “highly conflicted” judge who presided over his historic case.

From his namesake building in Manhattan, Trump argued that President Joe Biden and the “bunch of fascists” who back him are failing to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

But he also marked the moment by, as he has done repeatedly, blaming Judge Juan M. Merchan for “a nasty gag order” that prevented Trump from levying public criticism against witnesses and many others affiliated with his case.

TRUMP’S PRESS CONFERENCE BEGINS

At the outset of a press conference held at Trump Tower on Friday morning, Donald Trump complained about his criminal trial and subsequent conviction.

“If they can do this to me they can do this to anyone,” he as he took to the podium.

He had notes with him, two pages written in black Sharpie.

TRUMP MEDIA SHARES SWING WILDLY AND THEN TUMBLE

Shares of Trump Media & Technology Group swung wildly at the opening bell Friday, falling rapidly after it appeared that the owner of social networking site Truth Social would bounce back despite Donald Trump’s hush money conviction a day before.

After rising more than 2% at the opening of trade, shares slid 7% — about the levels they were trading at immediately after the conviction was announced during off-hours trading Thursday evening.

TRUMP STILL FACES 3 MORE FELONY INDICTMENTS

Donald Trump’s hush money case, though criticized by some legal experts who called it the weakest of the four prosecutions against him, takes on added importance not only because it proceeded to trial first but also because it could be the only one to reach a jury before the election.

The other three — local and federal cases in Atlanta and Washington that accuse him of conspiring to undo the 2020 election, as well as a federal indictment in Florida charging him with illegally hoarding top-secret records — are bogged down by delays or appeals.

UPSIDE-DOWN FLAGS

Donald Trump supporters and right-wing pundits have flown and shared images of upside-down flags in protest of the former president’s conviction. At least one was spotted outside Trump Tower in Manhattan Friday morning and elected officials including Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene shared the image online Thursday.

The symbol, once a signal of distress for sailors, has come to represent the “Stop the Steal” movement, which falsely claimed the 2020 presidential election was stolen. The symbol was also spotted outside Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s home in Virginia, though Alito said it pertained to a dispute between his wife and his neighbors.

Other incendiary rhetoric on social media referred to the verdict as a declaration of “war” or a sign of the coming of a “civil war.” The words “RIP America” trended on X, formerly known as Twitter, immediately after the verdict.

TRUMP RAISES $34.8 MILLION FOLLOWING CONVICTION

Donald Trump’s campaign said it has raised a record $34.8 million in small-dollar online contributions off his hush money conviction — nearly double its previous largest haul.

“From just minutes after the sham trial verdict was announced, our digital fundraising system was overwhelmed with support, and despite temporary delays online because of the amount of traffic, President Trump raised $34.8 million dollars from small dollar donors,” said Trump campaign senior advisers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles in a statement.

Fundraising emails have employed stark language, including “I am a Political Prisoner” and “JUSTICE IS DEAD IN AMERICA!”

The campaign advisors said nearly 30% of Thursday’s donors were new to the fundraising platform.

THE SCENE FROM TRUMP TOWER

Dozens of reporters and TV news crews are huddled in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan ahead of the former president’s planned postconviction remarks at 11 a.m.

It’s the same very 1980s brass-and-rose marble lobby where Donald Trump descended his golden escalator to announce his 2016 campaign nine years ago next month.

Five American flags have been set behind a small lectern where he’ll speak.

TRUMP’S CONVICTION AND ITS IMPACT ON THE 2024 ELECTION

Donald Trump’s conviction in his New York hush money trial is a stunning development in an already unorthodox presidential election with profound implications for the justice system and perhaps U.S. democracy itself.

But in a deeply divided America, it’s unclear whether Trump’s status as someone with a felony conviction will have any impact at all on the 2024 election.

Trump remains in a competitive position against President Joe Biden this fall, even as the Republican former president now faces the prospect of a prison sentence in the run-up to the November election.

In the short term at least, there were immediate signs that the unanimous guilty verdict was helping to unify the Republican Party’s disparate factions as GOP officials in Congress and state capitals across the country rallied behind their presumptive presidential nominee, while his campaign expected to benefit from a flood of new fundraising dollars.

REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS RALLIED TO TRUMP’S DEFENSE

Several Republican lawmakers reacted with fury to Donald Trump’s felony conviction on Thursday and rushed to his defense — questioning the legitimacy of the trial and how it was conducted.

House Speaker Mike Johnson said it was a “shameful day in American history” and labeled the charges as “purely political.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been one of Trump’s most frequent allies, said, “This verdict says more about the system than the allegations.”

And while Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell refrained from attacking the judge or jury, he said the charges “never should have been brought in the first place.”

Many GOP lawmakers, including Johnson, visited the courthouse in New York to support Trump during his criminal trial.

UNLESS HE’S SENT TO PRISON, TRUMP CAN STILL VOTE

Donald Trump may have been convicted of a felony and reside in Florida, a state notorious for restricting the voting rights of felons, but he can still vote as long as he stays out of prison in New York state.

That’s because Florida defers to other states’ disenfranchisement rules for residents convicted of out-of-state felonies. In Trump’s case, New York law only removes their right to vote when incarcerated. Once they’re out of prison, their rights are automatically restored — even if they’re on parole, per a 2021 law passed by the state’s Democratic legislature.

“If a Floridian’s voting rights are restored in the state of conviction, they are restored under Florida law,” Blair Bowie of the Campaign Legal Center wrote in a post explaining the state of law, noting that people without Trump’s legal resources are often confused by Florida’s complex rules.

THE FIGHT IS FAR FROM OVER

Donald Trump’s conviction Thursday on 34 felony counts marked the end of the former president’s historic hush money trial.

Now comes the sentencing and the prospect of a prison sentence. A lengthy appellate process could follow, especially as Trump’s legal team has already been laying the groundwork for an appeal.

And all the while, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee still faces three more criminal cases and a campaign that could see him return to the White House.

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The Latest | Trump delivers rambling response to his hush money conviction