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Trump guilty verdict divides US political world

GreenWatch Desk World News 2024-05-31, 12:16pm

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The historic conviction of former U.S. President Donald Trump in a New York court on 34 felony counts Thursday drew swift reaction from across the political spectrum.

The campaign of Trump's election opponent and Democratic presidential nominee, President Joe Biden, said the New York jury's decision to convict a former president showed that no one is above the law.
"Donald Trump has always mistakenly believed he would never face consequences for breaking the law for his own personal gain," the Biden-Harris campaign said in a statement. "But today's verdict does not change the fact that the American people face a simple reality. There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box."
The Trump campaign alleged in a statement that he was not able to have a fair trial in one of the more liberal areas of the nation.
"This was a disgrace. This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt. It's a rigged trial, a disgrace. They wouldn't give us a venue change. We were at 5% or 6% in this district, in this area. This was a rigged, disgraceful trial," Trump said in a statement.
U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, a top-ranking Republican, said in a statement, "Today is a shameful day in American history. Democrats cheered as they convicted the leader of the opposing party on ridiculous charges, predicated on the testimony of a disbarred, convicted felon. This was a purely political exercise, not a legal one."
Strength of system
Congressional Democrats said the verdict proved the strength of the American legal system.
"An individual who has been convicted of 34 felony counts and shows zero respect for the rule of law is not fit to lead the greatest nation in the world," said Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, chair of the Senate judiciary courts subcommittee. "It's only in honest courtrooms that the former president has been unable to lie and bully his way out of trouble. Americans trust juries for good reason."
The verdict marked the first time a former U.S. president has been convicted of a felony. The decision, however, does not prevent Trump from running for office, and it faces a lengthy appeals process, reports VOA.
Barbara Perry, co-chair of the Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, told VOA that if the appeal fails, Trump will mark another historic first for a U.S. president.
"Let's say that this felony conviction stands all the way through November 5, this upcoming presidential election day. It would be the case that if he maintains his residency in Florida, a state where convicted felons are not allowed to vote, that he literally would not be allowed to vote for himself. The other irony of this, in addition to it being unprecedented … is that he and many Republicans have typically tried in recent years to suppress votes."
Trump could also face a jail sentence or could be put under house arrest if the conviction stands.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, in a statement, criticized the process that led to the guilty verdict.
"A political hack prosecutor manufactured charges in one of the most liberal legal venues in the country. An obnoxious and biased judge who should have been disqualified conducted a trial in a way to ensure Donald Trump's conviction. A jury pool that comes from one of the most liberal areas of America," Graham said.
Perry disputed Republican allegations that the trial was a sham.
"Most objective observers would say [this] was a very fair judge. And even if they thought the judge was unfair, did they think that all 12 jurors were unfair? Did they think they were all partisan?" she said. "All 12 of these jurors were approved by both sides in this trial, and to say that our entire legal system is a sham, I would indicate that that borders almost on treason."
White House counsel spokesperson Ian Sams said, "We respect the rule of law, and have no additional comment." The White House had not yet responded to VOA's question on whether it had prepared for a heightened threat assessment after the verdict.
Trump faces criminal cases on unrelated charges in Florida, Georgia and Washington.