Donald Trump: A felon 34 times over

By Mayank Chhaya

The fact that a New York jury found former President Donald Trump unanimously guilty and that too on all 34 counts underscores how it was from the get-go be an open-and-shut case.

The 12 members of the jury took just nine hours spread over two days, May 29 and 30, to stamp against Trump’s name “Felon” for now and history. Even though the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit felons from becoming the country’s commander-in-chief, the verdict lends the 78-year-old Trump a permanent ignominy.
Going by the media reports and some visuals, he looked sullen and severe in the immediate aftermath of the verdict, perhaps feeling the early weight of what had just happened.

There are no serious expectations that the verdict would adversely impact his standing within the Republican Party and eventually his foregone nomination as its candidate for the 2024 presidential election.
However, in the event he is indeed elected president again it would have a profound impact on America’s global stature where leaders of questionable antecedents and even with criminal conviction would tell off Washington under him pointing out how there is a felon in office. America’s dubious moralizing to the rest world would lose all its potency under a felonious Trump.

Many around the world would be incredulous to confront the possible reality of a convicted Trump running the country. According to legal experts, he faces a maximum of up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each of the 34 felony charges of falsification of business records.
Justice Juan Merchan, who has set July 11 as the sentencing day, has considerable leeway in deciding the quantum and kind of sentence, which include actual imprisonment, probation, house arrest, fines and conditional discharge. Since Trump is a first-time offender held guilty of a non-violent crime, it is possible that he may receive a relatively light punishment.

In a broad sense, the conduct of the six-week-long trial does America a great deal of credit for treating a former president like an ordinary citizen facing a comparable set of charges. To that extent Washington still has some moral high ground to stand on even though the decision to prosecute Trump was entirely that of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

By any measure, this an extraordinary verdict even as Trump predictably spun his plight as that of a “political prisoner.” Polls in the runup to the verdict have suggested that a criminal conviction would turn many potential voters away from him. Reports say that seven percent of his base have said they will not vote for him in the event of conviction. Now that it is upon him, it could have a significant impact in a closely fought race with President Joe Biden.

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