Left-Wing DA, Biden DOJ Alum Secure Trump Conviction In Biden Donor’s Blue District Courtroom

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A jury in the deep-blue New York City borough of Manhattan convicted former President Donald Trump on Thursday in the case brought by Democratic District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Trump was convicted on all 34 counts of falsifying business records charged in Bragg’s indictment. Defense attorneys cornered the prosecution’s witnesses at critical junctures of the trial in a case that stood on shaky legal grounds from the start, including when Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, an admitted liar, took the stand as the prosecution’s star witness, a choice that resulted in Cohen revealing he stole from the Trump organization and committing what the defense demonstrated was potentially another act of perjury.

The charges stemmed from $420,000 Trump paid Cohen over 12 months in 2017 for “legal services,” which prosecutors argued was actually to reimburse Cohen for $130,000 he paid to secure a nondisclosure agreement with porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election and keep her quiet about claims of an affair with Trump.

To indict Trump on felony charges and circumvent the expired statute of limitations, Bragg had to claim the records were falsified to conceal or commit another crime — which remained unclear throughout the trial but was assumed to be either a campaign finance or election law violation. (RELATED: ‘RIGGED: Death Of The American Voter’ — Stream Now)

Prosecutors argued Trump engaged in a conspiracy to influence the 2016 election by paying to suppress stories of former Trump Tower doorman Dino Sajudin, former Playboy model Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels. They suggested he violated a state election law that makes it a misdemeanor for any two or more people to “conspire” to influence an election using “unlawful means.”

Trump is the first former U.S. president to be convicted at a criminal trial. His sentencing is scheduled for July 11th, days before the Republican National Convention set to begin on July 15. Falsifying business record charges carry a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

The jury began its deliberations on Wednesday after Judge Juan Merchan read the jury instructions, which did not require jurors to agree on what “unlawful” means Trump allegedly used to influence the election.

Bragg’s team included Matthew Colangelo, who spent two years as a top official in the Biden Department of Justice (DOJ). While previously working at the New York District Attorney’s office, Colangelo also led both the investigation that culminated in the Trump Foundation’s dissolution and the investigation that later became Trump’s civil fraud case.

Colangelo joined the Manhattan District Attorney’s office as senior counsel in 2022 while Bragg was still investigating Trump.

Early witnesses called by the prosecution included David Pecker, former National Enquirer publisher, and Keith Davidson, former attorney for McDougal and Daniels, who filled out the details of the alleged conspiracy. (RELATED: Stormy Daniels’ Admission On Witness Stand Sheds Light On Why Alvin Bragg Had Her Testify Against Trump)

Through Trump organization employees, prosecutors later introduced the invoices, ledger entries and checks that formed the foundation of the falsifying records charges. Prosecutors also called White House communications director Hope Hicks and former White House executive assistant Madeleine Westerhout, who testified about events around the indictment.

Cohen, the only witness to clearly implicate Trump in the documents, made the bombshell admission towards the end of cross-examination that he stole $60,000 from the Trump Organization through the very reimbursement plan he was on the stand to demonstrate Trump fully supported and understood.

While Cohen only paid $20,000 to a tech company, he apparently asked for a $50,000 reimbursement, which was doubled like the Daniels payment reimbursement to account for taxes.


Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (C) attends his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 21, 2024. (Photo by MARK PETERSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Defense attorney Todd Blanche caught former fixer Michael Cohen in what seemed to be another lie. Cohen claimed he placed an Oct. 24, 2016 call to Trump’s bodyguard Keith Schiller in order to talk about the Stormy Daniels matter with Trump, but Blanche demonstrated through text messages Cohen actually made the call to ask Schiller for help with prank calls he was receiving from a teenager.

The revelation raised questions about whether Cohen again committed perjury and cast doubt on one of the instances Cohen used to demonstrate Trump’s involvement. (RELATED: Trump’s Attorney Made Swiss Cheese Out Of Michael Cohen’s Testimony, Raising Questions Of Perjury)

Blanche took shots at Cohen’s credibility and motives from the start of cross-examination, pressing him on instances of lying, his public statements expressing a hope Trump would be convicted and the money he makes attacking Trump in the media.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to charges that included making false statements to a bank, tax evasion and campaign finance violations related to the Daniels and Karen McDougal payments. He also pleaded guilty in 2018 to making false statements to Congress.

Other witnesses took shots at Cohen: Davidson said he thought he would “kill himself” over not receiving a place in the Trump administration, and Hicks said he would take actions campaign staff found frustrating.

The only other witness to the alleged meeting between Cohen and Trump, Weisselberg, was not called by Bragg’s team to testify in the case. Weisselberg is serving a five-month prison sentence for perjury in Trump’s civil fraud case.

Prosecutors also put Stormy Daniels on the stand, though she testified that she had no direct knowledge about Trump’s role in the $130,000 payment she received. Her detailed testimony about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump — which included discussion of their relative heights, whether she felt threatened and whether Trump was wearing a condom — prompted two separate motions for a mistrial by the defense, who objected to her taking the stand from the start.

Both motions were denied by Judge Juan Merchan: he told the defense they should have raised more objections while Daniels was on the stand, and that their claim that the encounter never happened put the jury in the position of having to decide, meaning prosecutors should be able to have Daniels’ corroborate her story.

Merchan took heat for a litany of rulings before and during the trial viewed as benefiting the prosecution, such as allowing both Cohen and Daniels to testify, restricting the defense’s expert witness testimony so much that they ultimately opted not to call him and issuing a gag order against Trump.

Former President Donald Trump's Hush Money Trial Continues In New York

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 20: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives in court during his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 20, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Sanders-Pool/Getty Images)

Trump’s attorneys frequently pushed back on the gag order, pointing out early on it not only prevented him from responding to witnesses like Cohen and Daniels who frequently launch political attacks online, but also prevented Trump from responding to President Joe Biden when he joked about the case and mentioned a witness.

Merchan maintained the gag order through the trial’s duration, finding him in violation of it ten times and threatening jail time for future violations. (RELATED: ‘Kangaroo Court’: Denying Mistrial Over Stormy Daniels’ Testimony Is One Of Many Mistakes By Judge, Legal Experts Say)

During defense witness Bob Costello’s testimony, Merchan cleared the courtroom in response to Costello making comments and rolling his eyes.

Prior to the trial’s start, Trump’s attorneys fought to have Merchan recuse himself from the case, pointing to his daughter’s work running a political consulting firm that provides services to Democratic clients, including California Rep. Adam Schiff and the Senate Majority PAC. Those two Democratic clients have raised around $93 million in donations since they started referencing the case in fundraising emails, the New York Post reported in March.

Merchan expanded the gag order in April after Trump criticized his daughter on social media.

Merchan himself made a $15 donation to President Joe Biden in 2020, along with $20 he donated to other Democratic causes, according to Federal Election Commission records.

While Trump’s required presence at the trial kept him off the campaign trail, he invited a rotating cast of Republican supporters to join him at the courthouse, including Republican Ohio Sen. JD Vance, Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and House Speaker Mike Johnson. Before the start of proceedings each day, Trump made remarks to the press, often slamming the case and the judge.

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