Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump AFP

Former President and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has been found guilty of all 34 charges against him in the so-called hush money case, in which he stood accused of alsifying business records to reimburse a $130,000 payment to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels, when her account of an alleged sexual encounter could have imperiled his 2016 presidential campaign.

The verdict means that Trump is now a convicted criminal. The 12-people jury made the decision in its second day of deliberations and after weeks of testimony from over 20 witnesses, including Stormy Daniels and the former president's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen. Their identities have been kept anonymous for their own safety.

"You must set aside any personal opinions you have in favor or against the defendant," said Judge Juan Merchan, before they began discussing the decision. They ended up siding with prosecutors, who said the fraud was motivated by a plot to prevent voters from knowing about his behavior.

Trump has already denied any wrongdoing and described the charges as politically motivated. "These charges are rigged," Trump said on Wednesday. "Mother Teresa could not beat these charges."

"This was a disgrace, a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt. A disgrace. The real verdict is going to be on November 5 by the people. Everyone knows what happened here. We didn't do a thing wrong. I'm a very innocent man. It's OK, I'm fighting for our country, our constitution. This was done by the Biden administration to hurt a political opponent. We'll fight until the end and we will win," said Trump after the verdict.

Judge Merchan has set Trump's sentencing for July 11, days before the Republican National Convention is set to formally nominate him as its presidential candidate for the November elections. He could face up to four years in prison on each of the 34 counts, but legal experts have said that, as a first-time offender, he is unlikely to actually get jail time.

Republicans have been quick to criticize the verdict. House Speaker Mike Johnson said that "today is a shameful day in American history" as "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."

"The American people see this as lawfare, and they know it is wrong—and dangerous. President Trump will rightfully appeal this absurd verdict—and he WILL WIN!," he added on a publication on X.

The Biden campaign, on its end, released a statement of its own saying that the verdict proved "no one is above the law."

"Donald Trump was always mistakenly believed he would never face consequences for breaking the law for his own personal gain. 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. Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president," reads a passage of the statement.

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