Donald Trump convicted on all counts in hush money case: What happens next?

Donald Trump was convicted of falsifying business records to commit election fraud following a so-called 'hush money' trial in New York
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

06.41 31 May 2024

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Donald Trump convicted on all...

Donald Trump convicted on all counts in hush money case: What happens next?

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

06.41 31 May 2024

Share this article

Donald Trump has become the first former US president to be criminally convicted following a so-called 'hush money' trial.

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

He was found guilty of all 34 counts he faced with unanimity required for any verdict.


The former president is set to be sentenced on July 11th - just days ahead of the Republican National Convention where Trump is expected to be formally nominated for US president.

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


Ahead of the verdict, a new poll found 67% of registered US voters said it would make no difference to their vote if Mr Trump was found guilty.

Some 17% said they would be less likely to vote for him if he is convicted, and 15% said they would be more likely to vote for him.

Conversely, 76% of voters said a not guilty verdict would not impact their vote. Some 9% percent would be less likely to vote for him and 14% would be more likely to vote for him.

The NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll of 1,261 adults was carried out from May 21st through May 23rd.

Former US President Donald Trump walks outside of Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, 30-5-24 Former US President Donald Trump walks outside of Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, 30-5-24. Image: Associated Press / Alamy

Mr 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, Mr Trump said the conviction was a "disgrace" and that he is "a very innocent man".

He claimed 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," he added.

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

'Threat to our democracy'

A spokesperson for President Biden said in a statement: "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.

Alvin Bragg, the New York District Attorney who brought the case against Mr 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.

Michael Cohen leaving his apartment for his day on the stand of the Trump hush money trial in New York, 20-5-24 Michael Cohen leaving his apartment for his day on the stand of the Trump hush money trial in New York, 20-5-24. Image: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy

Michael Cohen, Mr 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."

Mr Cohen said the former president had a "total disregard for the jury" during his trial.

Speaking to MSNBC, he said: "I believe the antics that went on in the courtroom, whether it was by (Todd) Blanche or by Donald himself with the eye closing, the leaning back, the total disregard for the jury, I don't think he engendered any positive feelings."

"Thirty-four counts one after the other, one after the other of guilty. It's accountability, it's exactly what America needs right now," Mr Cohen said.

"We need for accountability to be had by all those that break the law because we like to continuously state, no one is above the law and today's verdict demonstrates that."

Posting on X, Mr Cohen wrote: "While it has been a difficult journey for me and my family, the truth always matters".

Mr Trump was at the centre of a scheme to cover up so-called 'hush money' payments to buy the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels in the days before the 2016 election.

When revelations by Ms Daniels of a sexual liaison with Mr Trump threatened to upend his presidential campaign, he directed his lawyer to pay her $130,000 (€120,173) to keep her quiet.

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

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

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."

Inside 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.

The five-week trial in the Manhattan Criminal Court heard how the backdrop to the crime was a scandal in the Trump campaign a month before the 2016 election.

A video tape from the TV show 'Access Hollywood' was made public, in which Mr Trump was caught on a microphone talking in lewd terms about groping women.

The trial heard how it was viewed as a "crisis" within Team Trump and that the campaign was soon facing another.

Ms Daniels, an adult film actor, claimed she had a sexual encounter with Mr Trump in Lake Tahoe, Nevada in 2006.

Fast-forward 10 years and, as he ran for office, she was looking to sell her story.

The details, as heard in this trial, were that she had met Mr Trump at a golf tournament and he had invited her to dinner.

She arrived at his hotel suite to find him dressed in satin pyjamas, until she asked him to change.

At one point he produced a magazine and she told the court she spanked him "right on the butt".

Later, she emerged from the bathroom to find him lying on the bed in a T-shirt and boxer shorts, and they ended up having sex.

Mr Trump denies the liaison took place.

'Catch and kill'

Ms Daniels plan to sell her story was communicated to Mr Trump by David Pecker, former publisher of the National Enquirer magazine.

He was a friend of Trump and operated a "catch and kill" scheme on his behalf, to catch negative stories and kill them before they could be published.

He'd already paid $150,000 (€138,660) to silence Karen McDougal, a Playboy model with a story of a 10-month affair with Mr Trump.

Mr Trump also denies that affair ever took place.

Mr Pecker told the court he'd attended a meeting at Trump Tower in New York in August 2015 with Mr Trump and Mr Cohen.

At the meeting, Mr Pecker told Mr Trump he'd be his "eyes and ears".

Mr Cohen testified that, upon learning that Ms Daniels planned to sell her story, Mr Trump told him: "This is a disaster, a total disaster. Women are going to hate me.

"This is really a disaster. Women will hate me. Guys, they think it's cool. But this is going to be a disaster for the campaign."

Subsequently, Mr Cohen paid Ms Daniels to buy and bury the story.

Critically, he testified that he did so at Mr Trump's direction, placing the former president at the heart of the conspiracy.

Hush money

Paying hush money isn't illegal; the crime was the way in which Mr Trump reimbursed his 'Mr Fix-It' and the reason the money was paid.

After Trump was elected president, he repaid Cohen $420,000 (€388,249) which accounted for the $130,000 and other payments and bonuses, "grossed up" to account for tax liability.

The repayment was made in a series of cheques, which were recorded as legal expenses.

That was the crime - the falsification of business records, aggravated by the reason for it - the effort to conceal from voters a negative story that could have harmed Mr Trump's election chances.

Mr Cohen served prison time after pleading guilty to various federal charges, including lying to Congress and a bank and engaging in campaign finance violations related to the hush money scheme.

Reporting by: IRN

Main image: Former US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he leaves his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, 30-5-24. Image: UPI / Alamy

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