Donald Trump

Donald Trump set to speak at Trump Tower after being found guilty in hush money case

His top aides on Wednesday released a memo in which they insisted a verdict would have no impact on the election, whether Trump was convicted or acquitted

Donald Trump plans to return to the campaign trail Friday morning with a news conference at his namesake tower in Manhattan a day after he was convicted of trying to illegally influence the 2016 election through a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels who claimed they had sex.

The press conference time is scheduled for 10 a.m. CST.

No former president or presumptive party nominee has ever faced a felony conviction or the prospect of prison time, and Trump is expected to keep his legal troubles central to his campaign. He has long argued without evidence that the four indictments against him were orchestrated by Democratic President Joe Biden to try to keep him out of the White House.

“There is nobody who is more defiant,” said Trump spokesman Jason Miller on Fox News hours after the verdict was read. “He’s ready to get out there and start fighting again."

Trump and his campaign had been preparing for a guilty verdict for days, even as they held out hope for a hung jury. On Tuesday, Trump railed that not even Mother Teresa, the nun and saint, could beat the charges, which he repeatedly labeled as “rigged.”

His top aides on Wednesday released a memo in which they insisted a verdict would have no impact on the election, whether Trump was convicted or acquitted.

The news nonetheless landed with a jolt. Trump, his team and reporters at the courthouse had been under the impression that the jury on Thursday would wrap up deliberations for the day at 4:30 p.m. Trump sat smiling and chatting with his lawyers as the proceedings seemed to be coming to a close.

Trump had spent the hours before the verdict was announced sequestered in the private courtroom where he had spent breaks throughout the trial, huddled with his attorneys and campaign aides, eating from a revolving lunch menu of McDonald’s, pizza, and subs.

As the jury was deciding his fate, he filled his time making calls, firing off social media missives and chatting with friends, including developer Steve Witkoff, who joined him in court, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who is considered a top vice presidential contender.

In a sign that they expected deliberations to continue, Trump’s holding room was outfitted with a television Thursday, according to two people familiar with the setup who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the case.

Instead, it was announced that a verdict had been reached. Thirty minutes later, Trump listened as the jury delivered a guilty verdict on every count -- all 34 of them. Trump sat stone-faced while the verdict was read.

His campaign fired off a flurry of fundraising appeals, and GOP allies rallied to his side. One text message called him a “political prisoner,” even though he hasn't yet found out if he will be sentenced to prison. The campaign also began selling black “Make America Great Again” caps to reflect a “dark day in history.”

Aides reported an immediate rush of contributions so intense that WinRed, the platform the campaign uses for fundraising, crashed.

Trump campaign spokesman Brian Hughes cited the outpouring as a sign “that Americans have seen this sham trial as the political election interference that Biden and Democrats have always intended.”

“November 5th,” he said, echoing Trump, “is the day Americans will deliver the real verdict!”

What was Trump found guilty of?

Prosecutors accused Trump of falsifying internal business records to cover up hush money payments tied to an alleged scheme to bury stories that might have torpedoed his 2016 White House bid.

At the heart of the charges were reimbursements paid to Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels in exchange for not going public with her claim about a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.

Prosecutors said the reimbursements were falsely logged as “legal expenses” to hide the true nature of the transactions.

The charges Trump faces are punishable by up to four years in prison. He has denied any wrongdoing and had pleaded not guilty.

Trump is expected to quickly appeal the verdict.

When will Trump be sentenced and what could his sentence be?

Judge Juan Merchan, who oversaw the case, set sentencing for July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

The falsifying business records charges carry up to four years behind bars, though prosecutors have not said whether they intend to seek imprisonment, and it is not clear whether the judge — who earlier in the trial warned of jail time for gag order violations — would impose that punishment even if asked.

Can Trump still run for president?

The answer is, simply, yes.

A convicted or imprisoned felon can not only campaign for president and other federal offices, but also be elected.

The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly prohibit a presidential candidate from running for office while under indictment, or even while serving time behind bars.

Eligibility requirements for presidents state only that they must be at least 35 years old, be a natural-born citizen of the United States, and have been a resident of the country for at least 14 years.

So, a criminal record, an orange jumpsuit and being on the wrong side of prison bars will not necessarily prevent someone from becoming president. It's the voters who have the power to do that. 

He's set in the upcoming two months to have his first debate with Biden, announce a running mate and formally accept his party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention.

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