Home Entertainment The presidential election has just caught fire: ANDREW NEIL’s expert instant analysis...

The presidential election has just caught fire: ANDREW NEIL’s expert instant analysis of Trump’s explosive guilty verdict – and why the real battle for the soul of America begins NOW

13
0


Donald Trump becomes the first ever former President of the United States to be convicted of a crime.

A unanimous New York jury found him guilty on all 34 counts of illegally trying to cover up a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to stifle a sex scandal that he feared would derail his 2016 presidential campaign only days before America went to the polls.

Paying the hush money was not in itself illegal but the prosecution successfully argued that it was designed to influence the outcome of the election — a violation of election laws and, argued the prosecutors, the underlying crime.

This is highly contentious territory — especially since the trial heard next to nothing about campaign law violations — which is why the guilty verdict will be immediately appealed. Trump’s defense lawyers have 30 days to prepare an appeal.

Guilty on 34 counts sounds worse than it is. It only refers to the number of instalments by which Trump arranged for his then lawyer and sleazy fixer, Michael Cohen, to be reimbursed for paying Daniels.

Donald Trump becomes the first ever former President of the United States to be convicted of a crime.

Donald Trump becomes the first ever former President of the United States to be convicted of a crime.

In the current sour mood in America, I would not rule out this rebounding to Trump's advantage.

In the current sour mood in America, I would not rule out this rebounding to Trump’s advantage.

The prosecution argued convincingly that Trump and his people had covered up these repayments to hide their true purpose. But doctoring corporate book-keeping entries under New York law is only a misdemeanor or minor crime, usually involving just a slap on the wrist.

It was linking the payments to a breach of campaign finance law which elevated the matter to proper criminality. For many observers the link is highly tenuous. It was barely discussed during the trial and nobody testified that such a link even existed.

Those salivating at the prospect of Trump now doing jail time will have to be patient.

Trump will not be held in remand pending sentencing. He is hardly a flight risk. It was a white-collar crime involving someone with no previous convictions. Jail would be an unusual outcome.

But then this whole trial has been unusual.

Sentencing will not take place until July 11, when Trump could face anything from probation to four years behind bars.

But even if the judge decides on jail, the guilty verdict will be appealed and Trump will remain free until the appeal process is concluded.

This will take a long time — months, if not years — certainly long enough to leave Trump free to campaign for president all the way through to polling day in November.

He will be sentenced four days before the Republican convention opens in Milwaukee, where Trump will be crowned as the party’s presidential candidate.

By that time President Biden will have regularly referred to him as a ‘convicted felon’. That could damage him among independent voters and non-MAGA republicans. But it will make no difference to his core vote.

A short time after the verdict was delivered, the Trump campaign website went down, such was the volume of traffic trying to send donations.

Within minutes of the verdict Trump was already declaring it a ‘rigged’ trial and a ‘disgrace’. He will position himself as the victim of a political witch hunt organized by a Democratic Justice Department, a Democratic judge, a Democratic Manhattan prosecutor, and a Democratic New York jury.

There have been enough oddities about the prosecution for this to have legs.

Judge Juan Merchan, who has sole say in sentencing, was regarded by many (and not just Trump supporters) as unduly partisan, regularly overruling defense challenges and nearly always siding with the prosecution.

Trump did not help matters by regularly attacking him. Even so, Merchan’s judgments and the controversial conduct of the case will be at the core of the appeal process.

But for now, and through to election day, the law takes a back seat and politics takes over.

America will have to decide if Trump is, as his opponent and enemies will stigmatize him, a convicted criminal unfit for any public office, never mind the highest in the land. Or someone seriously traduced by a politicized legal system that undermines the credibility of America’s justice system, making it more akin to a banana republic than a mature democracy.

The Biden campaign is already saying the outcome shows nobody is above the law in America.

Trump folks will argue that the convoluted legal shenanigans required to turn a misdemeanor into a felony was especially designed for Trump and would never have been deployed against anybody else.

In the current sour mood in America, I would not rule out this rebounding to Trump’s advantage.

Whatever the justice of the jury’s decision, he will be pumped up as never before. So will his supporters. The presidential election of 2024 has just caught fire.



Source link

Previous articleJetstar plane slides off the runway at Christchurch Airport
Next articleWhat OTHER criminal cases does Trump face now he has been found guilty in the hush money trial? How ex-president’s legal battles are still going after his conviction

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here