Donald Trump guilty on all counts: Michigan reacts. He’s still on ballot

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  • Trump is first former president convicted of a felony after jury finds him guilty of 34 counts of financial crimes 
  • Prison time is possible but may be remote
  • Trump is running again for president; reaction to the conviction fell along partisan lines

Donald J. Trump has become the first former U.S. president to be convicted of felonies, after a New York jury on Thursday convicted him of 34 counts of financial crimes related to a hush money scheme.

Trump is the likely Republican candidate for president and locked in a tight race in Michigan against President Joe Biden. His conviction will not impact his place on the ballot in Michigan or elsewhere.

Immediate reaction after the 5 p.m. verdict fell largely along partisan lines, including among Michigan lawmakers gathered at the Mackinac Policy Conference, where word of the guilty verdict quickly spread. 

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“Donald Trump is not above the law,” said U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, Flint Township. “He can’t take the position because he’s rich and powerful that he gets to make the rules for himself.”

The decision shows Trump is “unfit for office,” said state Rep. Alabas Farhat, D-Dearborn. 

“A jury of his peers found him guilty,” Farhat told Bridge Michigan. “That should be resonating with a lot of Americans right now, that this man is guilty of a hush money scandal and a hush money scheme. We ought to hold leaders to a better standard than accepting that.” 

Republicans disagree, including Senate Minority Leader Aric Nesbitt, a Porter Township Republican who has endorsed Trump. He called the case “continued lawfare against President Trump” and predicted a quick appeal. 

“I don’t think independents are following it at all,” Nesbitt told Bridge Michigan, predicting that the verdict could lead to an “energized” Republican base heading into the November general election.

State Rep. Tom Kunse, R-Clare, echoed those comments, dismissing the verdict after what he called a “show trial” that was unfair to Trump. 

Former Michigan U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, who is now running for U.S. Senate with Trump’s endorsement, blasted what he called a “rigged trial” and called the case against Trump “an indelible stain on our nation.”

“I have no doubt that this affront to justice will be successfully appealed, and President Trump will be cleared, “ Rogers said in a statement.

State Rep. Matt Maddock, R-Milford, told Bridge Michigan in a text he believed “the only thing our next president is guilty of is loving America and loving Americans.” 

Leaving the Manhattan courtroom Thursday, Trump lashed out at the judge, the trial itself and his likely opponent Democratic President Joe Biden, the last of whom he falsely claimed was responsible for the guilty verdict.

“This was a rigged, disgraceful trial. … I’m a very innocent man,” Trump said, claiming that the real verdict would come during the Nov. 5 presidential election.

“We’ll fight to the end, and we’ll win,” he said. 

Trump’s fate remains uncertain. Each count includes a maximum four-year sentence, but prison time is rare for those convicted of falsifying business records, according to Reuters.

There is no law against those convicted of felonies of serving as president. 

Trump was accused of falsifying business records to conceal another crime, with prosecutors alleging Trump violated New York laws in order to skirt federal campaign finance limits.

His attorney, Michael Cohen, testified he paid $130,000 in a three-way deal with Stormy Daniels, a former adult film actress, and the National Enquirer to ensure her silence over claims she had sex with Trump in 2006.

The deal was cut just days before Trump won the 2016 election. Daniel’s payout from Cohen and Trump was not revealed until 2018. 

Michael Tyler, a spokesperson for Biden’s re-election campaign, said Thursday’s verdict leaves voters with a “simple reality.”

“There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box,” Tyler said in a statement. “Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president.”

National polls conducted before Thursday’s verdict suggested it could have little impact on voters, with two-thirds saying it wouldn’t affect who they’d vote for in November — and with 25% of Republicans saying it would make them more likely to support Trump.

Trump has consistently rejected claims he had sex with Daniels and had attacked the judge handling the case on social media while his attorneys hammered Cohen, the prosecution’s star witness, calling the former Trump attorney “the greatest liar of all time.”

The New York case was the first of four potential criminal trials that Trump faces. 

He faces two federal cases, one related to his handling of classified documents and another accusing him of obstructing the 2020 election. A Georgia case accuses him of “criminal racketeering” for allegedly working to upend the Georgia 2020 presidential election results.

But even long-time Republicans opposed to Trump questioned the legal path sought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in the New York case. 

To get a conviction, prosecutors needed to prove Trump violated New York law in order to skirt federal election law. The case is likely headed to an appeal on those questions and others, experts said.

In Michigan, state Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks reacted to the verdict by urging Americans to “respect the decision of the court.” 

Trump got a fair trial and “is now going to be held accountable for his crimes,” Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, wrote on social media. 

Bridge staffers Mike Wilkinson, Lauren Gibbons, Jordyn Hermani and Laurén Abdel-Razzaq contributed.

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