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Trump found guilty in hush money case, becomes first ex-president to be criminally convicted

Donald Trump has become the first former US president to be criminally convicted.

In a historic decision, a New York jury has found him guilty of falsifying business records to commit election fraud.

The former president is set to be sentenced on 11 July – days before the start of the Republican National Convention on 15 July where Trump is expected to be formally nominated for president.

The verdicts plunge the country into unexplored territory ahead of the election on 5 November as opinion polls show Trump and Joe Biden locked in a tight race for the White House.

Trump faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison, though others convicted of the same crime often receive shorter sentences, fines or probation.

Speaking outside the court, the former president said the conviction was a “disgrace” and that he is “a very innocent man”.

Trump’s allegations.

He said the trial was “rigged” and that the judge was “conflicted” and “should never have been allowed to try this case”.

“This is long from over,” Trump added.

After the conviction, he travelled in a convoy of black jeeps to dinner in New York City.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Joe Biden said, “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,” said Michael Tyler, the Biden-Harris campaign’s communications director.

“The threat Trump poses to our democracy has never been greater. He is running an increasingly unhinged campaign of revenge and retribution, pledging to be a dictator ‘on day one’ and calling for our Constitution to be ‘terminated’ so he can regain and keep power,” he added.

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“A second Trump term means chaos, ripping away Americans’ freedoms and fomenting political violence – and the American people will reject it this November.”

Donald Trump’s supporters outside the court. PHOTO/ Reuters.

Alvin Bragg, the New York district attorney who brought the case against Trump, said in a press conference after the verdicts that his team “followed the facts and the law without fear or favour”.

He thanked the NYPD, court staff and the jury, saying the latter was “careful and attentive”.

I feel a deep gratitude to work alongside them to be a part of this system,” he said.

“While this defendant may be unlike any other in American history, we arrived at this trial and ultimately today at this verdict, in the same manner as every other case,” Mr Bragg added.

Meanwhile, Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer and a key witness in the trial, said: “Today is an important day for accountability and the rule of law.

“While it has been a difficult journey for me and my family, the truth always matters.”

He also posted on X celebrating the verdicts.

Trump’s hush money case

The former president was at the centre of a scheme to cover up “hush money” payments to buy the silence of a porn star in the days before the 2016 election.

When revelations by Stormy Daniels of a sexual liaison with Trump threatened to upend his presidential campaign, he directed his lawyer to pay her $130,000 (£102,000) to keep her quiet.

The payment buried the story, and Trump was later elected to be the 45th president of the United States.

He watched the jurors dispassionately as they were polled to confirm the guilty verdict. They had deliberated for nine-and-a-half hours.

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Judge Juan Merchan thanked the jurors for their service, saying: “Nobody can make you do anything you don’t want to do. The choice is yours.” Jurors are now free to speak about the trial.

Both supporters and protesters gathered outside and could be heard in the hallway on the 15th floor of the courthouse, where the case had been heard.

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