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Jurors unanimously agreed Trump was guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records


During each day of his trial, former President Donald Trump gave running commentary to reporters. Yesterday, the jury spoke, and then Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg did.


ALVIN BRAGG: The defendant, Donald J. Trump, is guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records, in the first degree, to conceal a scheme to corrupt the 2016 election.


For the first time, a former president is convicted of a felony, over the way that he paid off an adult film star, but if the trial is over, the argument is not. Bragg made his case that it was a normal prosecution.


BRAGG: 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 that comes through the courtroom doors.

INSKEEP: The defendant will now test that assertion in the courts and in politics. His lawyers talk of an appeal, while Trump talks of appealing to voters. There's a lot to talk about here, and we begin with NPR's Andrea Bernstein. Andrea, good morning.


INSKEEP: OK. Those of us at home had to wait for people to relay the news out of the courtroom with no cameras, out of the courtroom to anchors to tell us, but what was it like for you?

BERNSTEIN: I was sitting in the front of the courtroom, right behind a row of Trump attorneys. In the minutes before the verdict was announced, Trump and his team were absolutely silent and still. You could hear only the buzzing of the fluorescent lights in the shabby courtroom, and then the jury filed back in, and the jury foreperson announced the verdict. How say you? he was asked 34 times, and 34 times, he said guilty. Trump's lawyers unsuccessfully tried to get the judge to set aside the verdict. The judge announced the sentencing date, and then Trump walked out. His son Eric was sitting at the end of the first row, and Trump turned and grabbed his hand, pulled it tightly and grimaced, looking about as stricken as I've ever seen him. That's right before he went out into the hall and blasted the judge and the DA.


DONALD TRUMP: This was a rigged, disgraceful trial. The real verdict is going to be November 5 by the people.

BERNSTEIN: I've watched Trump in all of his court proceedings here in New York, and Trump was visibly unhappy yesterday.

INSKEEP: Andrea, he talks about the election there, and it's amazing to think that this case started before the previous election in 2020 that he lost.

BERNSTEIN: Yeah, the Manhattan DA's office started this investigation in 2018. It went to the Supreme Court twice to get Donald Trump's tax records. The office investigated through two different DAs, and when the case was indicted last year, there was a lot of talk about what a weak case this was and how insignificant, really, but over the course of the criminal trial, a picture of Donald Trump and his business practices emerged that was damning - of a mogul and a political figure who acquired power over people by attracting men like Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney who was willing to cross lines for him. But more than that, Trump silenced people using his money and power and avoided consequences until he could cross the next hurdle. This is the formula that's always worked for Trump - that was until yesterday. And though Trump has been found liable in three civil trials in New York in the past year - his company was convicted of 17 felonies in 2022 - this was different. The one-time president is now convicted of crimes.

INSKEEP: OK. That's NPR's Andrea Bernstein. Thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Andrea Bernstein
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.