Trump Guilty on All Counts in Hush-Money Case (2024)


Jonah E. Bromwich and Ben Protess

The former president’s sentencing is scheduled for July. Here’s the latest.

Donald J. Trump was convicted on Thursday of falsifying records to cover up a sex scandal that threatened to derail his 2016 presidential campaign, capping an extraordinary trial that tested the resilience of the American justice system and will reverberate into November’s election.

Mr. Trump was convicted on all 34 counts of falsifying business records by a jury of 12 New Yorkers, who deliberated over two days to reach a decision in a case rife with descriptions of secret deals, tabloid scandal and an Oval Office pact with echoes of Watergate. The former president sat largely expressionless, a glum look on his face, after the jury issued its verdict.

His sentencing was scheduled for July 11.

The jury found that Mr. Trump had faked records to conceal the purpose of money given to his onetime fixer, Michael D. Cohen. The false records disguised the payments as ordinary legal expenses when in truth, Mr. Trump was reimbursing Mr. Cohen for a $130,000 hush-money deal the fixer struck with the p*rn star Stormy Daniels to silence her account of a sexual liaison with Mr. Trump.

The felony conviction calls for a sentence of up to four years behind bars, but Mr. Trump may never see the inside of a prison cell. He could receive probation when he is sentenced, and he is certain to appeal the verdict — meaning it may be years before the case is resolved. Still, the jury’s decision is an indelible moment in America’s history, concluding the only one of four criminal cases against Mr. Trump that was likely to go to trial before Election Day.

Here’s what to know:

  • Trump can still be president: Nothing in the Constitution prevents a felon from running for president, or serving in the White House. Mr. Trump — who has long claimed the case against him is politically motivated — is expected to try to leverage the verdict to his advantage on the campaign trail, painting himself as the victim of a Democratic cabal. But the verdict ended Mr. Trump’s run of good fortune with criminal cases.

  • Inside the courtroom: Mr. Trump showed little emotion as the verdict was read, shaking his head as the jury’s foreman recited “Guilty” 34 times. The recitation took less than two minutes, a sudden end that came at the end of the second day of deliberations — after the judge in the case said he was planning to send the jury home for the day. Here’s what it was like inside the courtroom.

  • Celebration and outrage: Reaction to the historic verdict was immediate. A demonstrator outside the courthouse raised a large “Trump Convicted” sign, while others pumped their fists. Mr. Trump’s campaign emailed out a fund-raising appeal calling him a “political prisoner.” And President Biden’s campaign urged supporters not to sit idle, saying on social media that the only way to keep Mr. Trump out of the White House was by voting. Here’s how voters around the country greeted the verdict.

  • A proud prosecutor: The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, thanked the jury for convicting Mr. Trump, who he said had falsified business records to “conceal a scheme to corrupt the 2016 election.” He added, “There are many voices out there but the only voice that matters is the voice of the jury, and the jury has spoken.” Read an analysis of how prosecutors won the case.

  • An 8-year odyssey: The first inkling of the crimes committed by Mr. Trump emerged eight years ago, with a tip to The Wall Street Journal about another hush-money deal: $150,000 to a Playboy model who said she’d had an affair with the man who was then on the cusp of the presidency. Read a reporter’s account of the efforts to untangle the story.

  • Trump’s response: Mr. Trump appeared somber during brief remarks outside the courthouse, in which he repeated a litany of complaints about the case, including that the judge, Juan M. Merchan, was biased against him. “The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5, by the people,” he told reporters, without responding to a shouted question about why Americans should vote for a felon. This is what he had to say.

  • The jury deliberated for roughly 10 hours: The jurors asked to again hear portions of testimony by Mr. Cohen and David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer, who prosecutors say was part of a conspiracy to suppress unflattering stories on Mr. Trump’s behalf during the 2016 campaign. Read about what the jury wanted to hear again.

  • Dueling views of the case: A prosecutor from the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Joshua Steinglass, said in closing arguments that Mr. Trump had tried to “hoodwink the American voter” Todd Blanche, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, told jurors the case hinged on the testimony of Mr. Cohen, whom he called “the greatest liar of all time.” Take a look back at the words that defined the closing arguments.

May 30, 2024, 9:50 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 9:50 p.m. ET

Jonah E. Bromwich and Matthew Haag

‘The jury has spoken’: Bragg speaks after guilty verdict.


In February 2022, two months into his tenure, the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, made a momentous decision: He would not pursue a criminal case against Donald J. Trump.

He was criticized then for seeming to drop his office’s long-running investigation into the former president. He was criticized later that year, when he appeared to have refocused the investigation on a hush-money payment to a p*rn star who said she’d had sex with him.

And he was criticized once more several months later, in March of last year, when he became the first prosecutor to indict an American president, charging Mr. Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records. Critics at the time — including some prominent Democrats — said the case was not strong enough to have brought against a former president.

But on Thursday, shortly after 5 p.m., Mr. Bragg won one of the most consequential trials in American history: Mr. Trump was found guilty on all counts. Jurors determined that he had coordinated an unlawful conspiracy to win the White House in 2016 and had falsified records to cover up his scheme.

“I did my job, and we did our job,” Mr. Bragg said at a news conference on Thursday after the verdict, when asked about the criticism he received about his handling of the investigation and then the case. “There are many voices out there, but the only voice that matters is the voice of the jury, and the jury has spoken.”

The Trump Manhattan Criminal Verdict, Count By CountFormer President Donald J. Trump faced 34 felony charges of falsifying business records, related to the reimbursem*nt of hush money paid to the p*rn star Stormy Daniels in order to cover up a sex scandal around the 2016 presidential election.

Throughout his office’s investigation and the trial, Mr. Bragg had declined to speak publicly about the facts of the case or Mr. Trump himself. On Thursday, Mr. Bragg answered only a few questions and refused to respond to Mr. Trump’s sharp criticisms of him and his office.

Throughout the trial, staff members have said, Mr. Bragg has remained remarkably tranquil, showing little sign of the strain that comes with prosecuting a former president. One staff member who spent time with Mr. Bragg during the last several weeks described him as having been eerily calm.

Despite the momentous stakes of the trial, he remained steady on Thursday — though he appeared to be holding back emotion.

The legal battle pitted two opposites against each other: Mr. Bragg, a Harvard-trained prosecutor who often dodges the media spotlight, and Mr. Trump, the reality-television star turned Republican former president who craves and shapes it.

Mr. Bragg, 50, Manhattan’s first Black district attorney, vowed when he ran for office to bring a new approach to criminal justice in the borough. He said he would take the same approach to prosecuting the rich and powerful as he would to anyone else. And so he brought the case against Mr. Trump, charging the former president with the mundane-sounding crime of falsifying business records.

But as is typical of Mr. Bragg — a legal wonk above almost anything else — the case was more complex than it appeared. In New York, charges of falsifying business records are misdemeanors, unless they are used to commit or conceal another crime. And the district attorney determined that the crime could be the violation of a little-known state election measure that forbids anyone from aiding an election by unlawful means.

The criminal case, despite its critics and complexity, achieved his goals. The jurors delivered a guilty verdict on all 34 counts after roughly 10 hours of deliberations.

While this defendant may be unlike any other in American history,” Mr. Bragg said on Thursday, “we arrived at this trial, and ultimately today at this verdict, in the same manner as every other case that comes through the courtroom doors: by following the facts and the law, and doing so without fear or favor.”

Mr. Bragg grew up on Strivers’ Row in Harlem and graduated from Harvard Law School with a commitment to service, which he displayed first as a federal prosecutor and then as a deputy New York attorney general. At each turn, he impressed his colleagues with his open-minded, careful consideration of the law.

In his campaign for district attorney, Mr. Bragg was somewhat less cautious than had previously been his practice. On the trail, he brought up Mr. Trump’s name often and played up his history of taking him on in the attorney general’s office.

But asked on Thursday about what sentence he would seek for Mr. Trump, Mr. Bragg sidestepped. His office would answer eventually, he said. It would do so in court.



Trump Guilty on All Counts in Hush-Money Case (6)

May 30, 2024, 9:32 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 9:32 p.m. ET

Kate Christobek,Jesse McKinley,Olivia Bensimon,Anusha Bayya and Wesley Parnell

Here’s a look at how jurors reacted when they convicted Trump.


As the 12 jurors entered into the courtroom to deliver the verdict against Donald J. Trump, 11 of them looked ahead. But one looked in the direction of the defendant.

At that moment, the juror knew what was about to happen. Mr. Trump did not.

Moments later, the foreman would read the verdict convicting Mr. Trump of all 34 counts of falsifying business records with which he had been charged, making him the first American president to become a felon.

The jurors — seven men and five women — remained expressionless as they were individually polled to confirm the verdict, even as Mr. Trump looked at them.

Justice Juan M. Merchan then thanked them for their service, and then they filed out, going directly past Mr. Trump, who kept his eyes downcast as they walked by.

Before they left, Justice Merchan told them they were free to discuss the case if they so pleased, but no juror has yet spoken to the news media. Because of the sensitivity of the case, their identities were kept secret to all, except the lawyers in the case, and the defendant.

As news that the jury had reached a verdict spread beyond the courthouse, uniformed officers and sergeants standing outside could be seen speaking furtively to one another, as the whirring of helicopter blades droned on overhead.

Parts of Columbus Park behind the courthouse were blocked off to reporters, with court officers scolding some that they risked tampering with the jury by being so close.

The jurors piled into black vans with tinted windows that zipped north along Baxter Street, cutting against traffic as they zoomed away from the courthouse, and the first conviction of an American president.

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May 30, 2024, 9:22 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 9:22 p.m. ET

Jesse McKinley and Kate Christobek

Ex-president, felon, candidate: 5 takeaways from Trump’s conviction.


It was an end like no other for a trial like no other: a former American president found guilty of 34 felonies.

The conviction of Donald Trump, read aloud shortly after 5 p.m. by the jury foreman as the former president sat just feet away, ended months of legal maneuvering, weeks of testimony, days of deliberation and several nervous minutes after the jury entered the Manhattan courtroom.

The former president and the presumptive Republican nominee was convicted of 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a scheme to cover up an extramarital tryst with a p*rn star, Stormy Daniels, in 2006. That encounter — which the former president denied — led to a $130,000 hush-money payment whose concealment gave rise to the 34 counts of falsifying business records that made Mr. Trump a felon.

Mr. Trump’s sentencing is scheduled for July 11; he has indicated he will appeal.

Here are five takeaways from the last day of Mr. Trump’s momentous trial.

A grueling trial ended suddenly.

Thursday, the second day of deliberations, seemed to be moving toward a quiet conclusion. Then, suddenly the word came from the judge, Juan M. Merchan: There was a verdict.

Less than an hour later, the headlines reading “guilty” began to be written.

The decision came just hours after the jury had asked to hear testimony involving the first witness — David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer — including his account of the now infamous 2015 meeting at Trump Tower where he agreed to publish positive stories and bury negative stories about Mr. Trump’s nascent candidacy.

They also wanted to hear testimony from Michael Cohen, whose account closely hewed to Mr. Pecker’s.

Those two witnesses may have spelled doom for Mr. Trump’s defense.

The Trump Manhattan Criminal Verdict, Count By CountFormer President Donald J. Trump faced 34 felony charges of falsifying business records, related to the reimbursem*nt of hush money paid to the p*rn star Stormy Daniels in order to cover up a sex scandal around the 2016 presidential election.

Trump and his supporters are furious.

Mr. Trump, 77, was relatively subdued when the verdict was read, wearing a glum expression.

That sedate mask fell away. After he left the courtroom, he expressed disgust at the verdict in the hallway and suggested that voters would punish Democrats at the ballot box.

“The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people,” he said. “And they know what happened here.”

Allies chimed in. Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative group, suggested that Republican district attorneys should investigate Democrats. “How many Republican DAs or AG’s have stones?” he said in an online post, adding, “Indict the left, or lose America.”

Alvin Bragg was vindicated.

Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, had risked his reputation, reviving a prosecution that was derided by some as a “zombie case.” It was alive, then dead, then alive again.

Now, Mr. Bragg has cemented his place in history as the first prosecutor to convict a former president. That victory came after he had been viciously attacked, again and again, by Mr. Trump, who portrayed the case as politically motivated while sometimes personally insulting him.

In a news conference late Thursday afternoon, Mr. Bragg was restrained in his remarks, thanking the jury and calling their service the “cornerstone of our judicial system.” He also reiterated that “this type of white-collar prosecution is core to what we do at the Manhattan district attorney’s office.”

“I did my job,” he said.

Trump will now experience life as a felon.

Before his sentencing July 11, Mr. Trump will have the same experience as anyone else convicted of a felony in the New York court system.

The New York City probation department will conduct an interview and generate a sentencing recommendation for Justice Merchan. During the interview, a convict can “try to make a good impression and explain why he or she deserves a lighter punishment,” according to the New York State Unified Court System.

Justice Merchan, whom Mr. Trump has spent the last several months excoriating, could sentence the former president to up to four years in prison. Another option is probation, which would require Mr. Trump to regularly report to an officer.

Any punishment could be delayed when Mr. Trump appeals the conviction. It’s unlikely any appeal will get resolved before Election Day, and he could remain free until the appeal is resolved.

The nation is now in uncharted waters.

It’s too early to know how the verdict will affect the presidential campaign. Nothing in the Constitution prevents a felon from serving as president.

Both Mr. Trump and President Biden immediately tried to capitalize on the guilty verdict in fund-raising emails, including one from Mr. Trump declaring “JUSTICE IS DEAD IN AMERICA!” and calling himself “a political prisoner.”

Mr. Biden also posted a fund-raising appeal shortly after the verdict: “There’s only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: At the ballot box.”

Whether the conviction will resonate with voters in November is impossible to predict. One thing is certain: Mr. Trump’s conviction will test the American people, and the nation’s fealty to the rule of law.



May 30, 2024, 9:08 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 9:08 p.m. ET

Rebecca Davis O’Brien

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., echoing Trump, calls the Manhattan case politically motivated.


The independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. criticized the Manhattan district attorney’s prosecution of former President Donald J. Trump shortly after it ended in a conviction on Thursday, describing it as a politically motivated and “profoundly undemocratic” case that would only strengthen Mr. Trump’s support.

“The Democratic Party’s strategy is to beat President Trump in the courtroom rather than the ballot box,” Mr. Kennedy said in a statement on X. “This will backfire in November.”

His response echoed many of Mr. Trump’s Republican allies, who have for months described the charges against him as a partisan “witch hunt.”

In recent weeks, Mr. Kennedy has amplified his criticism of Mr. Trump, focusing particularly on his Covid-19 policies and his “coziness” with corporate America. Mr. Trump, in turn, has attacked him, with recent polling indicating that Mr. Kennedy could draw voters equally from Mr. Trump and President Biden in swing states.

But Mr. Kennedy has stayed largely silent on Mr. Trump’s legal troubles, occasionally appearing to suggest that the Justice Department under Mr. Biden has been used to political ends. In April, Mr. Kennedy questioned the motivations of the federal prosecutors who had brought charges against Trump supporters who participated in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. Mr. Trump has been charged in a federal case related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, a case entirely separate from the one brought in Manhattan.

In his statement on X on Thursday evening, Mr. Kennedy said that he was also “running against President Trump in this election,” adding, “The difference is I’m challenging him on his record.”

Earlier, shortly after the verdict came down, Mr. Kennedy was speaking at a cryptocurrency conference in Austin, Texas, where he was asked about the conviction.

“I think this is probably the weakest case that people brought against him,” Mr. Kennedy told the audience. “My belief is that it will end up helping President Trump among a large part of the American public, who believes that the judicial system and the enforcement system have been weaponized politically.”

Trump Guilty on All Counts in Hush-Money Case (11)

May 30, 2024, 8:58 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 8:58 p.m. ET

Benjamin Protess

Reporting on the Trump trial

A lawyer for Michael Cohen, the prosecution’s star witness, said that he “demonstrated remarkable courage throughout the proceedings.” The lawyer, Danya Perry, added: “The jury’s unanimous verdict is a testament to his credibility and the truthfulness of his testimony.”

Trump Guilty on All Counts in Hush-Money Case (12)

May 30, 2024, 8:33 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 8:33 p.m. ET

Emma Fitzsimmons

Mayor Eric Adams of New York City released a statement three and a half hours after the verdict: “Our criminal justice process must be respected. As we await the next steps, New Yorkers should rest assured that the NYPD stands ready to respond to any and all circ*mstances, including large-scale protests. While peaceful protests and assembly will always be protected, we will not be a city of any form of lawlessness.”



May 30, 2024, 8:20 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 8:20 p.m. ET

Reid J. Epstein and Nicholas Nehamas

Reporting from Washington

Hopeful yet cautious, Biden’s team aims to exploit Trump’s conviction.


For more than a year, President Biden has sought to cast the 2024 election not as a referendum on his four years in office but on whether voters want to return Donald J. Trump to office after a first term in which he undermined abortion rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Now, Mr. Trump’s guilty verdict on all 34 counts in his hush-money trial on Thursday has given Mr. Biden’s campaign a fresh way to frame the race: a stark choice between someone who is a convicted felon and someone who is not.

Mr. Trump’s conviction could well shake up U.S. politics, serving as a convening moment that cuts through a fragmented news media ecosystem even if it does not change pessimism about inflation and the cost of living. Mr. Trump has led many polls, with voters holding dim views of Mr. Biden’s stewardship of the economy, the southern border and foreign wars.

The Manhattan jury’s verdict is likely to focus attention on Mr. Trump in a way that Mr. Biden’s supporters have long hoped it would. Even if Mr. Biden does not directly affix the title “felon” to his rival, scores of his allies are planning to do so in their communications about Mr. Trump through the end of the campaign.

The Trump Manhattan Criminal Verdict, Count By CountFormer President Donald J. Trump faced 34 felony charges of falsifying business records, related to the reimbursem*nt of hush money paid to the p*rn star Stormy Daniels in order to cover up a sex scandal around the 2016 presidential election.

“Donald Trump is a racist, a hom*ophobe, a grifter and a threat to this country,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, a top Biden surrogate and an influential billionaire donor for Democratic causes. “He can now add one more title to his list — a felon.”

Mr. Biden has to this point said virtually nothing about the New York case against Mr. Trump or any of the other three criminal indictments he faces, trying to stay above the fray as his rival baselessly claims that Mr. Biden orchestrated the charges. And the White House demurred after the verdict: “We respect the rule of law, and have no additional comment,” said Ian Sams, a spokesman for the White House Counsel’s Office.

The Biden campaign was less circ*mspect. Its aides tried to tie the verdict to the choice voters will face in November.

“Donald Trump has always mistakenly believed he would never face consequences for breaking the law for his own personal gain,” said Michael Tyler, the campaign’s communications director. “Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president.”

Mr. Biden, who spent Thursday in Delaware with his family honoring the anniversary of his son Beau’s death, posted a fund-raising appeal on X that read, “There’s only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: At the ballot box.”

But there were signs that the Biden campaign was seeking to restrain fellow Democrats’ jubilation, signaling to surrogates that they should not be overly partisan in their responses to the conviction. Many of the campaign’s usual cadre of top supporters — including Govs. Gavin Newsom of California, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Tim Walz of Minnesota and Wes Moore of Maryland — said nothing immediately in public and declined to comment about the verdict early Thursday evening.

Jim Messina, the campaign manager for President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, urged caution about the impact of the trial’s outcome.

“Even though he’s a convicted felon, Trump can still win,” Mr. Messina said.

Other allies of the president said Democrats should hammer home the message that Mr. Trump was found guilty of committing crimes to cover up a sex scandal that could have derailed his 2016 campaign.


“All Democrats should be calling this a finding of guilt on election interference,” said Representative Ro Khanna of California.

The president’s campaign expected a fund-raising boost in the immediate hours after the verdict, though officials also expected Mr. Trump to raise significant sums. MoveOn, the progressive advocacy group, took orders for 10,000 free “Trump is a felon” stickers in the first two hours after his conviction. The Republican fund-raising platform WinRed was not working after Mr. Trump’s conviction.

Within minutes of the verdict, Democratic groups began publishing pre-written statements and social media posts. Many referred to Mr. Trump as a “convicted criminal” or “convicted felon,” previewing how outside allies of Mr. Biden intended to use the verdict politically.

Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, who led two Trump impeachment efforts in the House, called the former president “unfit to serve in any elected office.” Representative Robert Garcia of California, a member of the Biden campaign’s advisory board, said Mr. Trump was “a con man and a criminal.” And Representative Nikema Williams of Georgia said the verdict would make Mr. Trump “an unhinged and even more dangerous candidate.”

Yet the political fallout is uncertain. For weeks, Democratic operatives have debated the utility of polling that suggested a conviction would hurt Mr. Trump among some voters. The former president’s allies are hoping for a prolonged surge of Republican anger that will juice turnout in November.

David Axelrod, an architect of the Obama campaigns, called Mr. Trump’s conviction “uncharted waters” and said the political ramifications were unknowable.

“The question isn’t just how voters react but how Trump himself reacts,” Mr. Axelrod said. “If it causes him to retreat further into rage and self-pity, obsessing over his own grievances rather than addressing the concerns of voters, it may make the difference for people on the bubble.”

How much the verdict breaks through will depend in part on how successful the campaign is at focusing attention on the stakes of the election. Mr. Biden and his campaign have for months sought to make their case on abortion and democracy. In the hours after the conviction, surrogates began working out how to include Mr. Trump’s conviction in their talking points.

“I think this makes the choice even clearer: Do you want a president like Joe Biden, who delivers for working-class people?” Lt. Gov. Austin Davis of Pennsylvania said in an interview. “Or do you want a president who’s, quite frankly, a convicted felon who’s willing to break the law, who believes he’s above the law?”

And Representative Jasmine Crockett, a Texas Democrat who on Wednesday traveled with Mr. Biden to Philadelphia for a campaign event focused on Black voters, said she hoped the conviction would be a “rallying cry for the left,” at a time when the president has lost support from some progressives over the war in Gaza.

Speaking from the perspective of a hypothetical progressive voter, Ms. Crockett said: “We’ve got to show up because what will we look like in this world if the president of the United States is a doggone 34-count convicted felon?”

She continued, “We may not love Joe Biden, but we know that Joe Biden is absolutely on a whole other top-tier shelf level than Trump.”

Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting from Rehoboth Beach, Del.

Trump Guilty on All Counts in Hush-Money Case (16)

May 30, 2024, 8:16 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 8:16 p.m. ET

Emma Fitzsimmons

Yusef Salaam, a New York City council member and one of the Exonerated Five, a group of Black and Latino men who were wrongly convicted of raping a jogger in Central Park when they were teenagers, said in a statement: “Even though Donald Trump wanted us executed even when it was proven that we were innocent, I do not take pleasure at today’s verdict.” He added: “We should be proud that today the system worked. But we should be somber that we Americans have an ex-President who has been found guilty on 34 separate felony charges.”

May 30, 2024, 8:11 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 8:11 p.m. ET

Michael M. Grynbaum and John Koblin

A historic verdict made for riveting T.V. Then the punditry began.


At 5:06 p.m. on Thursday, shortly after NBC News broke in with a special report, Savannah Guthrie and Lester Holt told viewers that a verdict in the first criminal trial against an American president was imminent. After weeks of dramatic testimony that, with no cameras in the courtroom, made little impact on TV, the tension spilled onto the airwaves all at once.

“Oh, here we go,” Ms. Guthrie said abruptly, as the off-camera voice of Laura Jarrett, NBC’s senior legal correspondent, could be heard in the background. “Guys! We need to go,” Ms. Jarrett said. “We need to go.”

“Go,” Ms. Guthrie exhorted. The camera jumped to Ms. Jarrett, outside a Manhattan courthouse, who over the next 87 spellbinding seconds read off each count, one by one, followed by the same two-syllable verdict:


The Trump Manhattan Criminal Verdict, Count By CountFormer President Donald J. Trump faced 34 felony charges of falsifying business records, related to the reimbursem*nt of hush money paid to the p*rn star Stormy Daniels in order to cover up a sex scandal around the 2016 presidential election.

On every major TV network, anchors reeled off the outcome for former President Donald J. Trump with an auctioneer’s rapid-fire cadence. “Count 1, guilty; Count 2, guilty; Count 3, guilty,” intoned Ari Melber, the MSNBC legal correspondent, as a sober-faced Rachel Maddow sat beside him jotting notes on a pad. An on-air graphic totted up the final score: 34 guilty, 0 not guilty.

It was the kind of riveting moment that Mr. Trump, a TV connoisseur himself, might have appreciated if he were not its subject. “It is a remarkable moment in American history,” Anderson Cooper said as CNN broke the news.

The announcement of the verdict, however, quickly yielded to sharply divergent reactions in the partisan corridors of cable news.


“There is something that is very wrong here; we have gone over a cliff in America,” said Jeanine Pirro, the Fox News host and a longtime Trump loyalist. She called the case “riddled with errors” and castigated the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, and the trial judge for what she deemed a politically motivated prosecution. “God help America after what I’ve seen in the last few weeks,” she said.

Trey Gowdy, another Fox News host, had already primed his viewers to be skeptical of a guilty verdict by calling the instructions given to the jury “pro-prosecution.” The top headline on blended the news of the guilty verdict with Mr. Trump’s accusation that the trial was “rigged” and “disgraceful.”

On MSNBC, the mood was different.

“This is a definitive and an irreducible verdict,” said Ms. Maddow, who warned that the country now faced a “test” of whether Mr. Trump can “undermine the rule of law, so that people reject this as a legitimate function of the rule of law in our country.” She said the jury “deserves to be thanked for their efforts and to be protected from the kinds of attacks and recrimination that the president and his allies have tried to bring down on this process.”

“The rule of law is mortal,” said the host, Nicolle Wallace, echoing earlier commentary by Ms. Maddow. “It needs to be protected. It isn’t an abstract thing.”

Other anchors took a moment to underline the day’s historical significance. “To hear that word ‘guilty’ not just once but 34 times about a former president of the United States in any context is completely uncharted territory,” the CBS correspondent Major Garrett said. “It is a moment where everything about politics and law and our orientation to both are convulsed as never before.”

On CNN, Jake Tapper declared the day “an unbelievable moment in American history,” while also acknowledging that there was little immediate understanding of how the verdict would play out in this year’s presidential race.

“For those wondering about the political consequences of these 34 guilty verdicts, the short answer is, nobody has any idea,” Mr. Tapper said. “Period.”

Fox News, which employs several of Mr. Trump’s top media allies, is often watched as a benchmark for how the former president’s supporters will react to adverse news. The news anchor Shannon Bream led the channel’s coverage of the verdict, followed later by its chief political anchor, Bret Baier. Several conservative pundits on “The Five” weighed in shortly after 5:30 p.m.

Rather than rail against the jury’s verdict, the host, Greg Gutfeld, said he thought it would redound to Mr. Trump’s benefit. “Americans love a story of a lone man battling a corrupt system with his back against the wall,” he said. “They just gave Popeye a gallon of spinach.”

Jesse Watters, his co-host, concurred. “I thought I’d be angry, but I feel this cool resignation,” he said. “We’re going to get back up, we’re going to regain our strength, and we’re going to vanquish the evil forces that are destroying this republic.”

By the time the evening lineups began at 7, less than two hours after the verdict, the parallel realities of cable news split-screen were on full display.

Laura Ingraham opened her Fox News show by declaring “a disgraceful day for the United States, a day America may never recover from.” And on MSNBC, Joy Reid called Mr. Trump “a hateful, angry man who hates the same system he wants to lead.”

Tiffany Hsu contributed reporting.



May 30, 2024, 8:06 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 8:06 p.m. ET

Chris Cameron

Trump’s campaign donor website crashes after guilty verdict.


WinRed, the payment processor for Republican campaign donations, crashed after former President Donald J. Trump’s felony conviction, a technical issue that his campaign attributed to the number of people trying to donate in the immediate aftermath of the verdict.

“So many Americans were moved to donate to President Trump’s campaign that the WinRed pages went down,” the Trump campaign said in a statement on social media.

The website no longer shows an error message when visiting the donation page for Trump’s campaign, though it is unclear if the website is properly functioning and processing donations. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Trump began soliciting donations off his felony conviction almost immediately after the verdict was read from the Manhattan courthouse. In statements on his social media website, Truth Social, Mr. Trump posted links to the campaign’s website; it redirected to the WinRed page, which was not working properly.

That donation page features a large image of Mr. Trump’s mug shot, which was taken in Atlanta after Mr. Trump surrendered at the Fulton County jail in his Georgia criminal case, with the caption “Never surrender.” The page also describes Mr. Trump as a “political prisoner” and called on “TEN MILLION pro-Trump patriots” to donate by the end of the day.

May 30, 2024, 7:47 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 7:47 p.m. ET

Michael Rothfeld

How an 8-year reporting trail connected the dots that led to the conviction.


As the 2016 presidential election approached, reporters around the country chased the stories of a string of women who were speaking about unsavory encounters they said they had with Donald J. Trump. In the middle of this scrum, a different kind of tip came into The Wall Street Journal: a lawyer was arranging payoffs to silence other women from Mr. Trump’s past.

That tip led The Journal, where I worked then, to report that The National Enquirer had paid $150,000 to suppress a Playboy model’s account of her affair with Mr. Trump. The article, published four days before Mr. Trump won the election, was the first inkling of the crimes that have resulted eight years later in the unprecedented criminal conviction of a U.S. president.

The road in between was long and circuitous, upending numerous lives before a Manhattan jury voted on Thursday to find Mr. Trump guilty of falsifying records at his company to cover up a hush-money scheme. The Manhattan district attorney’s office characterized the plot as part of a conspiracy to illegally tilt the 2016 election in his favor.

The Trump Manhattan Criminal Verdict, Count By CountFormer President Donald J. Trump faced 34 felony charges of falsifying business records, related to the reimbursem*nt of hush money paid to the p*rn star Stormy Daniels in order to cover up a sex scandal around the 2016 presidential election.

Details of Mr. Trump’s involvement emerged slowly, over the course of years, through the work of reporters and investigators, and ultimately, through revelations from some of his closest associates. It was a story vigorously pursued by countless media organizations, from its beginning until what now seems like its end.

One focal point was David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer and Mr. Trump’s decades-long associate, whose company paid the Playboy model, Karen McDougal, for the rights to her story of a 10-month affair with Mr. Trump that began in 2006.

At The Journal, we obtained firm evidence of that deal. The tip we received led us to Keith Davidson, a Los Angeles lawyer who represented Ms. McDougal. My former colleague, Joe Palazzolo, obtained a copy of her contract with The Enquirer’s parent company, in a brown folder tied with a ribbon, during a clandestine meeting with a source near the brass clock in Grand Central Terminal.


In our Nov. 4, 2016, article, we used the phrase “catch and kill” to describe the old tabloid tactic The Enquirer had used to suppress a negative story on Mr. Trump’s behalf. But we couldn’t get to the bottom of what role Mr. Trump had played, if any.

Another mystery lingered: We reported then that Mr. Davidson had also represented Stormy Daniels, a p*rn star who had been shopping her own story before the election about a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump a decade earlier, but had gone silent. It took Joe and me more than a year to figure out why. On Jan. 12, 2018, in the second year of Mr. Trump’s presidency, The Journal reported that Ms. Daniels had been paid $130,000 to keep quiet by Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, shortly before the election.

Mr. Cohen, like Mr. Pecker had before him, initially insulated Mr. Trump, who has maintained he did not have sex with Ms. McDougal or Ms. Daniels. Mr. Cohen acknowledged making the hush-money payment, but said at the time that he was responsible for it. He told Maggie Haberman, my current colleague at The Times, that he had not been reimbursed by The Trump Organization or the Trump campaign. But Mr. Cohen pointedly avoided addressing whether he’d been repaid by Mr. Trump personally, as he had in fact been.

In April 2018, F.B.I. agents raided Mr. Cohen’s apartment, office and a hotel room. On the same day, other agents arrived at Mr. Pecker’s home in Greenwich, Conn., and the Manhattan apartment of The Enquirer’s editor, Dylan Howard, bearing subpoenas and search warrants to seize the men’s cellphones.


The next month, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who had just joined Mr. Trump’s legal team, casually linked the president to the $130,000 payment to Ms. Daniels. The disclosure on Fox News seemed to take the host, Sean Hannity, by surprise. Mr. Giuliani said the money had been “funneled through a law firm, and the president repaid it.”

“Oh. I didn’t know that,” Mr. Hannity said. “He did?”

That summer, The Times reported the existence of direct evidence of Mr. Trump’s involvement: a recording Mr. Cohen had secretly made speaking to him about the McDougal deal before the election. He had left the recording on a device that federal agents seized.

Mr. Trump’s insulation began to thin. Mr. Pecker hired a lawyer and began talking to federal prosecutors. And Mr. Cohen’s relationship with Mr. Trump began to erode as the Trump Organization balked at paying his legal fees.

Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in August of that year to federal campaign finance violations, along with tax evasion and making false statements to a bank in his private business dealings. In court, he said Mr. Trump had directed the hush-money payments.

After Mr. Trump left office in 2021, the Manhattan district attorney’s office started investigating the hush-money scheme, leading to Mr. Trump’s indictment last year.

Over the years, new bits and pieces of Mr. Trump’s personal involvement with the hush-money deals emerged through media reporting and court filings. And as the trial began in April, new details emerged from witnesses connected to the deals.

As Mr. Trump watched from the defense table, his lawyers tried to maintain the distance between him and all the sordidness. Mr. Cohen was the “greatest liar of all time,” Mr. Trump’s lead lawyer, Todd Blanche, declared in his closing statement. He claimed Mr. Davidson had extorted Mr. Trump in the hush-money deal reached with Ms. Daniels, which the lawyer, in his testimony, had called a “settlement.”

In the end, one of the women who had been paid for her silence used her voice to effectively push back.

During cross-examination, it was suggested to Ms. Daniels that she had lied about having sex with Mr. Trump.

“You have a lot of experience in making phony stories about sex appear to be real, right?” another one of his lawyers, Susan Necheles, asked Ms. Daniels.

“The sex in the films, it’s very much real,” Ms. Daniels retorted. “Just like what happened to me in that room.”



May 30, 2024, 7:38 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 7:38 p.m. ET

Christopher Maag

Reporting on the Trump trial

Donald Trump appeared briefly outside Trump Tower, raising his right hand above his head and pumping his fist to a crowd of about 500 people, who rained down a mix of cheers and jeers from across Fifth Avenue. “Where are the fireworks?” said Christian Torres, a lawyer who lives in the Bronx and left his office in Midtown early to cheer the verdict. Victoria Arnstein, of Midtown, called the verdict “a sham.” “It was all very political,” she said.

May 30, 2024, 7:35 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 7:35 p.m. ET

Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan

political memo

Trump had good fortune so far with his four cases. Then came a verdict.


Donald J. Trump’s run of luck in his criminal cases has expired.

Before the conviction on Thursday in Manhattan, the former president had drawn what some of his closest advisers regarded as a defense lawyer’s equivalent of an inside straight: something close to perfection. Mr. Trump had lost civil cases with costly damages, but the four criminal cases that threatened his freedom were stumbling along so badly that his advisers were often incredulous at his good fortune.

In the Florida case in which he was charged with obstruction of justice and unlawfully holding onto classified documents, a Trump-nominated judge had spent so much time puzzling over minor issues that the trial would almost certainly be delayed beyond the presidential election in November.

In the Georgia case, the prosecutor who had charged Mr. Trump as part of a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election was caught in a romantic affair with the man she had hired to help her prosecute Mr. Trump.

And with the federal charges over his efforts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, the Supreme Court has significantly narrowed the chances of a trial before the election, having taken up the presidential immunity arguments put forth by Mr. Trump’s lawyers.

His streak ended minutes after 5 p.m. on Thursday, as 12 jurors found Mr. Trump guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up a sex scandal that could have imperiled his 2016 presidential campaign.

As the verdict was announced by the jury foreman, there was almost no reaction from Mr. Trump’s two rows of friends, family and aides. Mr. Trump sat slack and glum at the defense table. On the bench behind him, his son Eric shook his head from side to side. The courtroom was silent as the foreman repeatedly announced, “Guilty. Guilty.”

The Trump Manhattan Criminal Verdict, Count By CountFormer President Donald J. Trump faced 34 felony charges of falsifying business records, related to the reimbursem*nt of hush money paid to the p*rn star Stormy Daniels in order to cover up a sex scandal around the 2016 presidential election.

When Mr. Trump got up to leave court, his face looked as if he’d been punched in the solar plexus. As he entered the aisle of the courtroom, he reached for Eric Trump’s hand and they clasped their hands together. The former president left with an entourage that included his longtime friend, the real-estate investor Steve Witkoff. “He is my dear friend,” Mr. Witkoff said later. “I stand with him.”

Mr. Trump exited the courthouse in his motorcade, smiling out the window at his fans as he typically does. But days of predictions from his allies that the case would end in a hung jury or even in an acquittal did not come to pass.


Such an outcome seemed almost unthinkable to the Trump team as recently as last summer, according to several people with knowledge of the discussions.

Back then, the conventional wisdom among Mr. Trump’s lawyers was that the Manhattan case would never see daylight. Mr. Trump’s lawyers spent relatively little time thinking about it. Instead they focused on the cases they viewed as far more serious and perilous: in particular, the two federal cases brought by the special counsel Jack Smith.

The Trump team liked its chances in the Florida documents case, with a perceived friendly judge and a friendly jury pool, the people with knowledge of the discussions said. But the team was pessimistic about the Washington trial, in which Mr. Trump would face charges of scheming to hold onto power through lies and intimidation. There, they met a judge, Tanya Chutkan, who seemed to them as hostile as the city’s residents, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic and had a close-up perspective on the violence that was committed on the former president’s behalf at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Mr. Trump’s lawyers thought that the Washington trial would surely be held before the election, and they didn’t like their chances.

Then, their delay tactics — and moves made by Mr. Smith’s team — meant that the two federal cases were stalled. And the Manhattan trial was suddenly the first one on deck.

Some close to Mr. Trump noted an irony: Inside the Manhattan district attorney’s office, the hush money case was nicknamed the “zombie case.” It kept being killed off and then resurrected, according to Mark Pomerantz, who had worked in the office but resigned in early 2022 after the new district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, declined to immediately proceed with prosecuting Mr. Trump. Mr. Bragg was skeptical of relying on the testimony of Michael D. Cohen, who had pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, and people close to Mr. Trump assumed that Mr. Bragg was being pressured into a prosecution that he never truly believed in.

But here the case was — back on the calendar, set for an April trial, just three months before the Republican National Convention. And the former president and New York native was forced to face a jury in a city that widely despises him. He will now be sentenced on July 11, just a few days before the start of the convention where he is set to be nominated for a third time.

In private conversations with his advisers in recent days and weeks, Mr. Trump, who was found liable by two civil juries in the last year and a half in Manhattan, had often seemed resigned to the notion that he would be convicted in this case. He has insisted privately that the verdict can play to his political advantage, just as the indictments energized and consolidated his support in the Republican primaries.

He has telegraphed for almost a year now his playbook for managing the fallout.

Mr. Trump and his allies on Capitol Hill and in conservative media assiduously prepared their audiences to be outraged, whatever the outcome. There was no need for talking points to be distributed. Everyone knew what to think and what to say. Minutes after the verdict, Mr. Trump’s allies said roughly the same thing in simultaneous posts on social media: This was a threat to the U.S. system of justice.

His allies whom he endorsed were asked by his team to post on social media in support of him. And one of his top advisers warned on the X platform that a Republican candidate for Senate had “ended” his campaign after having urged people to respect the verdict.

Mr. Trump has asserted, relentlessly and without evidence, that the Manhattan charges are part of a sweeping conspiracy against him, orchestrated by President Biden and unnamed henchmen around him. His allies, chief among them his former strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have already called for congressional Republicans to issue subpoenas to anybody involved in any of the prosecutions of Mr. Trump.


For over a year, Mr. Trump’s political campaign and legal woes have been completely entwined.

Yet while his indictments empirically helped him in Republican primaries — boosting his standing in the polls and turbocharging his online fund-raising — it’s less clear what effect a conviction might have for the broader electorate to whom Mr. Trump must appeal to win in November.

The public’s views of Mr. Trump have long been remarkably stable. Mr. Trump currently holds a lead over Mr. Biden in five of the six closest swing states, according to the latest New York Times/Siena College polls of the states likely to decide the presidential election. Most swing-state voters said that they were not paying much attention to the trial, but Mr. Trump has an opening among undecided voters, who were about evenly divided on whether he could get a fair and impartial trial.

Working in Mr. Trump’s favor is the fact that, of the four criminal cases Mr. Trump is facing, voters across the country consider the hush money charges to be the least serious. In a national poll taken a month into the trial, Quinnipiac University asked voters if Mr. Trump’s conviction in the Manhattan hush money case would influence their vote. Just 6 percent of his supporters said that a conviction would make them less likely to vote for him. While the share is small nationally, such voters could be decisive in closely fought states.

“Voters have short memories and even shorter attention spans,” Neil Newhouse, a Republican pollster, said. Just as the former president’s two impeachments have faded from memory, he said, “a guilty verdict in the hush money trial may be overshadowed by the first presidential debate.”

“There’s nothing that has come out in this trial that has been a shocker or a surprise to throw this back into the court of public opinion,” Mr. Newhouse added.

It’s almost a certainty that the conviction will intensify what is already a burning Republican anger across the country. In a Fox News poll taken during the trial, the vast majority of Mr. Trump’s supporters said that he was not being treated fairly by the legal system, and half said he had done nothing wrong regarding the payments.

“So many Republican voters — even those who were maybe lukewarm on Trump — have been angry in a way I’ve never seen our base — more angry than after the 2020 election, more angry than after any impeachment trial,” Senator J.D. Vance, Republican of Ohio, said.

“There’s a sense of personal resentment,” added the senator, who is on a shortlist to be Mr. Trump’s running mate. “Here is this symbol of American law and order — the courtroom — weaponized against the only candidate who ever gave a damn about them.”

Nobody is working harder to stoke that MAGA fury than Mr. Trump.

On Wednesday, the day after the actor Robert De Niro joined Biden campaign staff for a news conference outside the Lower Manhattan courthouse, Mr. Trump regaled reporters about how Trump supporters had shouted down Mr. De Niro.

“He got MAGA’d. He got MAGA’d yesterday,” Mr. Trump said in the hallway outside the courtroom. “He got a big dose of it.”

Ruth Igielnik contributed reporting.

May 30, 2024, 7:32 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 7:32 p.m. ET

Michael Rothfeld

Stormy Daniels “is relieved that this case is now over,” her lawyer, Clark Brewster, said in a statement Thursday. Daniels, the p*rn star whose $130,000 hush-money deal was at the center of the charges against Donald Trump, had testified at his trial. “She always had great faith in our justice system and in the solemn oath jurors take in undertaking their service,” Brewster said. “No man is above the law, and the selfless hardworking service of each of these jurors should be respected and appreciated.”



May 30, 2024, 7:32 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 7:32 p.m. ET

Jonah Bromwich

Reporting on the Trump trial

Outside the courthouse, I just caught a remarkable moment: A phalanx of blue-shirted court officers whooping, cheering and hugging as they celebrated the end of a trial that has forced them to spend long hours on their feet, and many nights with very little sleep. Court officers, essentially the court system’s police force, patrolled the courtroom and the hallways, escorting reporters and members of the public to and fro. They were essential in coordinating the remarkably complicated choreography of the Trump trial.

May 30, 2024, 7:24 p.m. ET

May 30, 2024, 7:24 p.m. ET

Kate Christobek

This is how prosecutors constructed their case against Trump, and won.


For years, prosecutors debated, fought and even, in at least two cases, resigned over the fate of the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into Donald J. Trump. Some legal experts predicted it would be the downfall of the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg.

But on Thursday, a jury swiftly and decisively vindicated the risky strategy that Mr. Bragg employed to bring 34 felony counts against the former president.

Prosecutors were helped by state election law, two judges who allowed their novel legal theory to proceed and their ability to make the most of a high-risk witness, Mr. Trump’s former fixer, Michael D. Cohen.

The jury’s verdict — guilty on all 34 felony counts — represented a landmark victory for Mr. Bragg, who claimed a place in history as the first prosecutor to indict, prosecute and convict a former U.S. president.

“I did my job,” he said at a news conference after the verdict. “Our job is to follow the facts without fear or favor and that’s what we did here.”

The Trump Manhattan Criminal Verdict, Count By CountFormer President Donald J. Trump faced 34 felony charges of falsifying business records, related to the reimbursem*nt of hush money paid to the p*rn star Stormy Daniels in order to cover up a sex scandal around the 2016 presidential election.

Prosecutors had to persuade jurors that Mr. Trump had falsified records to cover up a sex scandal that threatened to derail his 2016 presidential campaign. They faced an uphill battle, taking jurors on a complex and winding decade-long journey from a Lake Tahoe, Nev., celebrity golf tournament all the way to the Oval Office.

They were buoyed by the fine print of New York State law. Prosecutors needed to show only that Mr. Trump “caused” the business records to be false, rather than orchestrating the scheme or personally falsifying them.

But to make the case that Mr. Trump’s actions rose to the level of a felony, they also had to show that Mr. Trump falsified the records to conceal a second crime. This element of the case discouraged Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., from moving forward. But Mr. Bragg, a career prosecutor and something of a legal wonk, pushed his prosecutors to scour the penal code for a workable theory.

After months of internal deliberations, Mr. Bragg settled on an argument that Mr. Trump had violated an obscure state election law. This novel and untested theory — applying a state election law to a federal campaign — became fodder for Mr. Trump’s lawyers, who argued that the prosecutors’ case was flimsy at best. Two judges ruled that the prosecutors had legal grounds to pursue the case, but it will also have to withstand an appeal, which Mr. Trump has already indicated he will file.

Over the course of six weeks and the testimony of 20 witnesses, prosecutors wove a sprawling yet granular story of election interference and falsified business records, convincing 12 New Yorkers beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Trump was guilty of felony crimes. They called many of Mr. Trump’s former employees and allies who, as the prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said in his closing argument, had no motive to fabricate their testimony. If anything, he added, they had an incentive to skew it to help the former president.

Their testimony, coupled with thousands of pages of documentary evidence and Mr. Trump’s own words, allowed prosecutors to bolster their case before the jurors heard from two key witnesses whose credibility would be aggressively attacked: Mr. Cohen and the p*rn actress Stormy Daniels.

“There is, literally, a mountain of evidence of corroborating testimony that tends to connect the defendant to the crime,” Mr. Steinglass said during his closing argument on Tuesday. “It’s difficult to conceive of a case with more corroboration than this one.”

Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors kicked off the testimony on April 22 by calling David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer and a friend of Mr. Trump, to the witness stand. Mr. Pecker spent days testifying to the bigger picture prosecutors were trying to convey: Mr. Trump’s scheme to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

Prosecutors described for the jurors the now infamous 2015 meeting in Trump Tower where Mr. Trump and members of his inner circle devised a plot to protect his first presidential campaign. Jurors heard compelling testimony from Mr. Pecker about the scandalous stories he purchased and buried to prevent embarrassment to the Trump campaign, a practice prosecutors referred to as “catch-and-kill.”

While the jurors heard that practice was common in the supermarket tabloid world, prosecutors elicited testimony from Mr. Pecker about how his scheme with Mr. Trump — designed to aid his campaign and influence the election — was extraordinary.

From there, prosecutors methodically revealed the crux of their case: the $130,000 hush-money payment from Mr. Cohen to Ms. Daniels to cover up a sex scandal and the reimbursem*nts to Mr. Cohen that resulted in the fake records.

Hope Hicks, Mr. Trump’s former campaign spokeswoman, described the panic in the Trump campaign just before the 2016 election, following the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Mr. Trump was caught speaking in vulgar terms about women. Keith Davidson, Ms. Daniels’s former lawyer, described how he capitalized on that concern and negotiated with Mr. Cohen to get the hush-money deal for Ms. Daniels. And Jeffrey McConney, the former Trump Organization controller and longtime loyal employee of Mr. Trump, testified about the reimbursem*nt payments to Mr. Cohen.

Other former and current employees followed suit, slowly explained the accounting minutiae and the path of Mr. Cohen’s reimbursem*nts with checks making their way to Mr. Trump in the Oval Office.

Prosecutors corroborated weeks of testimony with documents, recordings, emails, social media posts, phone records and text messages. Notably, jurors saw — several times — a handwritten note from the former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen H. Weisselberg reflecting the details of the repayment plan to Mr. Cohen (which Mr. Steinglass referred to as a “smoking gun”), and heard conversations that Mr. Cohen recorded that demonstrated Mr. Trump’s knowledge of the hush-money deal.

By reading passages of Mr. Trump’s books, prosecutors depicted the former president as a frugal micromanager who always questioned his invoices, distrusted his employees and had a penchant for revenge. Because Mr. Trump decided not to take the stand in his own defense, this image was never rebutted.

By the time Ms. Daniels and Mr. Cohen were called to the witness stand, they needed only to fill in the gaps.

Ms. Daniels painted a vivid picture of what Mr. Trump was trying to hide from voters: a consensual yet uncomfortable sexual encounter in 2006 in a Lake Tahoe, Nev., hotel room, where Ms. Daniels said there was a power “imbalance” between her and Mr. Trump.

Prosecutors portrayed Mr. Cohen as “the ultimate insider” to Mr. Trump and a “tour guide through the physical evidence.” Mr. Cohen described Mr. Trump’s directive to pay off Ms. Daniels (“Just do it,” Mr. Cohen recalled Mr. Trump’s saying) and their meeting in the Oval Office where Mr. Trump confirmed the plan to reimburse him.

Prosecutors were also helped by Mr. Trump’s lawyers’ decision to call to the stand Robert J. Costello, once Mr. Cohen’s informal legal adviser. One of the defense’s two witnesses, Mr. Costello was uneven and irascible on the stand. Outside the presence of the jury, the judge called him “contemptuous.”

In an intense cross-examination, prosecutors portrayed Mr. Costello as an agent of Mr. Trump who tried to prevent Mr. Cohen from cooperating with law enforcement.

It effectively closed the loop on prosecutors’ narrative of Mr. Trump’s conduct. “The name of the game was concealment,” Mr. Steinglass said in his closing argument, “and all roads lead inescapably to the man who benefited most, the defendant, former President Donald Trump.”

Trump Guilty on All Counts in Hush-Money Case (2024)


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