Trump's Stoic Verdict: A Historic First

Donald Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, expressed surprise at Trump's composed reaction to the guilty verdict for falsifying business records. The former president, convicted on 34 counts, vowed to appeal. As Trump's legal battles continue, he maintains the trials are politically motivated. Sentencing is scheduled for July 11.


PTI | Newyork | Updated: 01-06-2024 07:18 IST | Created: 01-06-2024 07:18 IST
Trump's Stoic Verdict: A Historic First
Donald Trump

Donald Trump's lawyer told The Associated Press he was surprised at Trump's stoic demeanour as he listened to the verdict that made him the first former US president convicted of a crime.

Todd Blanche was sitting to Trump's left in the Manhattan courtroom as the verdict was read — the jury foreman repeating the word "guilty" 34 times.

''I was shocked at how he took the verdict,'' Blanche said. ''He just stood there and just kind of took it. And I think had a lot of appropriate solemnness for the moment that made me very proud to be sitting next to him when it, when it was happening,'' said Blanche, adding that he thought Trump was still handling himself well on Friday, the day after the verdict, even as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee railed that the trial was unfair.

"He's not happy about it, but there's no defendant in the history of our justice system who's happy about a conviction the day after. But I think he knows there's a lot of fight left and there's a lot of opportunity to fix this and that's what we're going to try to do," said Blanche, Trump's lead attorney in the New York case and his classified documents federal criminal case in Florida.

A jury of a dozen New Yorkers convicted Trump on all counts of falsifying business records, a felony punishable by either incarceration, probation or a fine. As the foreman read the verdict, Trump shook his head slightly, but didn't vent his frustration until he left the courtroom. Trump has vowed to appeal.

Speaking to reporters Friday, Trump portrayed himself as a victim of a "rigged" trial, which he claimed was orchestrated by Democrats to stop his presidential campaign. Afterward, President Joe Biden said it was "reckless", "dangerous" and "irresponsible for anyone to say this is rigged just because they don't like the verdict".

Blanche pushed back on Biden's comments, saying it was natural for Trump to believe the law was being used unfairly against him. He cited the three other criminal cases pending against Trump: two cases in Georgia and Washington where he is accused of trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election and the one in Florida, where he is charged with illegally possessing classified records after he left the White House.

"I believe in the justice system, and I always will. And I don't think that that one case should change anybody's view,'' said Blanche, a former federal prosecutor who left his job at an elite law firm to represent Trump. "But if you were Donald J. Trump and you have four indictments ... you don't think you would say you thought it was rigged? OK." "I think it's easy to say, Oh, that's dangerous. Just keep on showing up at your four indicted cases, sir. Stop saying it's rigged.' You know. 'Nothing to see here. Totally normal.' I don't think it's dangerous. I think it makes the system better,'' Blanche said.

The jury reached its verdict around 4:20 p.m. on Thursday, just as it appeared deliberations were going to be stretching into a third day. Just a few minutes earlier, Judge Juan M. Merchan had returned to the courtroom to announce that, in lieu of a decision, he'd be sending jurors home for the evening at 4:30 p.m.

"I'm a trial attorney and I've had a lot of trials and I had a lot of verdicts. And this one was by far the most kind of surprising in the timing of it,'' Blanche said. "We were all ready to go home. I think it was pretty clear that they were going to keep on working. There hadn't been any notes. The first note was a pretty complicated one about testimony, and then asking to have the charge read back to them. So that's a jury that's kind of in it for the long haul." Blanche and Trump were having a pleasant conversation as they sat at the defence table waiting out what they thought were the last few minutes of the court day.

"We were kind of getting our minds right,'' Blanche said. ''Having a jury deliberate is stressful for everybody involved, but for sure for President Trump. And so we're trying to get his mind right, that everything was proceeding like it should. And then the judge said we have a verdict.'' Asked about his handling of the case, Blanche said the defence team had done its best.

On Trump's decision not to testify, Blanche said that decision ultimately fell to the former president.

"He definitely wanted to testify," Blanche said. But he said they knew that prosecutors were going to be able to cross examine Trump on areas "that are very complicated'', because they are the subject of legal appeals.

"There would have been a lot of sideshows if he were to testify that would have, I think, made it a challenge for him," Blanche said. ''He was elected president and he's running again, and so he obviously connects with people and connects with voters, and I think certainly can connect with a jury as well. But it wasn't quite as simple as that in reaching that decision." Among the things Trump could have been asked about by prosecutors were a USD 455 million judgment pending against him in a fraud lawsuit brought by New York's attorney general and other judgments against him in lawsuits brought by E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of sexual assault.

Blanche acknowledged there was a chance Trump might be sentenced to jail time.

"On the one hand, it would be extraordinary to send a 77-year-old to prison for a case like this. A first-time offender who was also president of United States, I mean, I think almost unheard of," Blanche said.

On the other hand, Blanche said, "this is a very highly publicized case" in which some might argue Trump deserves a harsher punishment because he faces charges elsewhere. "So it's going to be a very, I think, contentious sentencing where we're going to obviously argue strenuously for a non-incarceratory sentence.'' Trump's sentencing is scheduled for July 11.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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