Donald Trump convicted: a first for a former president of the United States

31 May 2024 / Jerome Goulon

This is a first in the history of the United States. A former president convicted in criminal court!

After six weeks of intense debate, the first criminal trial of a former president of the United States saw its verdict: the 12 jurors declared Donald Trump guilty this Thursday, May 30. The news shook the political sphere. Indeed, Trump was found guilty of 34 counts of falsifying accounting documents, linked to the payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, in 2016.

The jurors were unanimous: the ex-president sought to conceal a payment of $130 to the actress in order to avoid a sex scandal in the middle of the 000 presidential campaign. Already a pioneer by becoming the first former head of state American to be tried criminally, Trump is now the first to be convicted.

The judge will pronounce the sentence in the coming weeks. This could reach four years in prison, although alternatives such as suspended sentence with probation are possible.

During his five-hour closing argument, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass tried to persuade jurors that the accounting falsifications were at the heart of a conspiracy and cover-up to win the November 2016 presidential election against Hillary Clinton. According to him, the money was used to buy Stormy Daniels' silence regarding an alleged sexual relationship in 2006 with Trump, then married to Melania. Trump has denied the allegations.

Michael Cohen, Trump's former trusted lawyer, paid the sum to the actress. Once Trump was in the White House in 2017, Cohen was reimbursed through fraudulent means, disguising the payments as "legal fees" in the Trump Organization's accounts, leading to accusations of accounting falsification.

The defense, for its part, rejects this version of the facts. According to them, Trump, as President of the United States, was unaware of the details of these transactions. They argue that there was no intent to defraud or conspire to influence the election, and that the payment to Daniels was the result of an extortion attempt against Trump.

Concluding his three-hour closing argument, attorney Todd Blanche urged jurors not to turn their verdict into a referendum on Trump. He insisted that if the evidence was properly examined, a not guilty verdict was required.