Former US President Donald Trump held guilty in New York criminal trial; sentencing set for July 11

NEW DELHI: Donald Trump was found guilty in a criminal trial on all 34 counts of falsifying documents to conceal a payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.
The trial judge has set the date of sentencing for July 11, days before the Republicans are scheduled to officially choose him as the 2024 election nominee.
The core of the allegations revolves around payments made to Trump’s previous attorney, Michael Cohen, as compensation for a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.The payment was made to ensure Daniels’ silence regarding her alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.
According to the prosecution, the reimbursements were incorrectly recorded as “legal expenses” in an attempt to conceal the actual purpose of the transactions. The charges brought against Trump carry a potential sentence of up to four years in prison. However, Trump has maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty.
The decision is historic as Trump is the first US president to be found guilty of a crime. The verdict was reached after two days of deliberations by the 12-member jury.
This development comes as Trump, the Republican candidate, prepares to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the upcoming November 5 presidential election. Despite denying any wrongdoing, Trump is expected to appeal the verdict. The maximum sentence for his crime is four years in prison, although lesser penalties such as fines or probation are more common. Incarceration would not prevent him from campaigning or taking office if elected.
According to Reuters/Ipsos polling, the guilty verdict could potentially cost Trump support from independent and Republican voters in what is currently a close race between him and Biden. The jury’s decision came after a five-week trial that included explicit testimony from porn star Stormy Daniels about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, which he denies.
Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, testified that Trump approved a $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels in the final weeks of the 2016 election and a plan to reimburse Cohen through monthly payments disguised as legal work. Trump’s lawyers questioned Cohen’s credibility, highlighting his criminal record, imprisonment, and history of lying.
Prosecutors in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office elevated the charge of falsifying business documents, normally a misdemeanor in New York, to a felony on the grounds that Trump was concealing an illegal campaign contribution. Trump complained that he could not receive a fair trial in his heavily Democratic hometown. This case, known as the “zombie case” because Bragg revived it after his predecessor chose not to bring charges, is considered the least consequential of the four criminal prosecutions Trump faces. It is also likely to be the only one to go to trial before the election, as the others are delayed by procedural challenges.
If elected, Trump could potentially shut down the two federal cases accusing him of illegally trying to overturn his 2020 election loss and mishandling classified documents after leaving office in 2021. However, he would not have the power to stop a separate election-subversion case taking place in Georgia. Trump has pleaded not guilty in all the cases and has portrayed his legal troubles as an effort by Biden’s Democratic allies to harm him politically.
(With agency inputs)


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