On the jury’s guilty verdict

Former President Donald Trump walks to make comments to members of the media after a jury convicted him of felony crimes for falsifying business records in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election, at Manhattan Criminal Court, Thursday, May 30, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)

In a ruling unheard of in this nation’s history, a former president has been convicted of multiple felonies.

This ruling must serve as a catalyst for healing from our ever-broadening political divide, not as cause for further division. It must serve as evidence that even the most powerful among us can, and will, be held accountable under the law.

Former President Donald Trump was convicted of falsifying business records in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election by paying off porn star Stormy Daniels, who sought to share the story of their alleged sex. He was found guilty on 34 counts by a 12-person jury in a Manhattan courtroom Thursday.

This case was ugly, the crimes unbefitting of the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, much less a person who held the highest office in our nation. It was not long ago that such a conviction would sink a presidential nominee’s reputation and sow doubt in his decision-making abilities. But this is a changed era, one where reality is viewed through drastically different lenses and those with great power seek to distort the facts with false narratives.

Trump’s legal team is expected to appeal the verdict, but as of now, Trump faces potential prison time. The charges stemming from his falsifying of business records could carry up to four years in prison. Judge Juan Merchan is expected to decide Trump’s sentence on July 11.

In a statement released minutes after the jury’s decision was read in court, North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik — who is believed to be in the running to become Trump’s running-mate — has called the verdict “rigged.” She panned the American justice system as a whole under President Joe Biden, alleging that this case only happened because Biden’s allies were making a “desperate attempt” to save the current president’s “failing campaign.”

This rhetoric does nothing but earn Stefanik political points with Trump’s most ardent supporters, sow doubt in an American institution and inflame divisions among her constituents. This is not the mark of a leader; instead, it signals allegiance to one man’s campaign over the nation’s wellbeing.

These are not the only felony counts lodged against Trump. There are three other cases against him in Atlanta and Washington — where he’s charged with conspiring to reverse the 2020 election — and Florida, where he’s charged with illegally hoarding confidential government records.

Is this conduct what our great nation deserves from a presidential nominee and former president? Any rational person should be able to admit that the United States deserves better than this.

“The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people,” Trump told reporters after the verdict was read.

This jury’s verdict was real, but Trump is right in one regard: Voters will decide what sort of conduct is acceptable by our nation’s leader on Nov. 5.


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