New York jury convicts former President Donald Trump on all 34 counts

Former President Donald Trump walks outside of the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York after a jury convicted him of felony crimes for falsifying business records in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election, on Thursday, May 30, 2024. [AP Photo/Steven Hirsch]

Late Thursday afternoon, a jury in New York City found former President Donald J. Trump guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records in relation to a six-figure payment he made to an adult film actress ahead of the 2016 election. After deliberations began on Tuesday, it took the jurors less than 10 hours to reach their unanimous decision on all counts.

Thursday’s conviction marks the first time in US history a former president has been found guilty of a felony. It will intensify the ongoing crisis of the American political system. Barely five months before the November election, it is unclear if either Trump, now a convicted felon, or President Biden, an increasingly senile and hated war criminal, will actually be on the ballot.

While Trump was found guilty of all 34 charges and each charge carries with it a maximum sentence of four years, there is no guarantee that Judge Merchan will sentence Trump to any prison time. He set sentencing for July 11, just four days before the Republican National Convention is to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. No matter what sentence is handed down, Trump will exhaust every opportunity to appeal.

Following his conviction, Trump gave a brief fascistic statement outside the courtroom. He fumed against “the rigged trial” orchestrated by the “Soros-backed DA” Alvin Bragg (a reference to Hungarian American billionaire George Soros, who is Jewish and a financial supporter of the Democratic Party) and “corrupted judge” Juan Merchan. As he does in every campaign speech, Trump attacked immigrants and accused Biden of allowing “millions” to pour “into our country from prisons and mental institutions.”

In a written statement released by Trump, the ex-president complained, “They wouldn’t give us a venue change” and said the “real verdict is going to be November 5 by the people.” Repeating his antisemitic slur, Trump wrote, “And they know what happened here, and everybody knows what happened here. You have a Soros-backed DA and the whole thing, we didn’t do a thing wrong.”

Several leading Republicans released statements after the verdict backing their embattled would-be Fuhrer. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson called the trial “a purely political exercise, not a legal one” and, mimicking Trump, bemoaned the “weaponization of our justice system.”

Georgia Republican Rep. Mike Collins tweeted that it was “Time for Red State AGs [attorney generals] and DAs [district attorneys] to get busy,” i.e., to retaliate by prosecuting Democrats. Fellow Georgia Representative and QAnon fascist Marjorie Taylor Greene retweeted an anti-immigrant statement from former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that read, in part, “Import the Third World, become the Third World. … Anyone who defends this verdict is a danger to you and your family.” 

While there is no question that Trump is a criminal, the charges he was found guilty of pale in comparison to his real crimes against the international working class, above all, the January 6, 2021 fascistic coup.

The current commander-in-chief is commonly referred to around the world as “Genocide Joe” Biden due to his unstinting political, economic and military support for Israel’s genocide in Gaza, which has killed more than 45,000 and injured more than 80,000.

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In a statement issued after the conviction, Socialist Equality Party candidate for US president Joseph Kishore called the jury’s decision “appropriate,” and added:

Many will welcome this verdict as the long overdue blow to a political monster, who has gotten what he deserved. But it would be a mistake to take the symptom, Trump, for the cause of the crisis of American democracy.

The very fact that a fascist like Trump could rise to the top of American politics expresses a profound degradation of democratic forms of rule, which have been hollowed out by decades of unending war and ever-rising social inequality. Even if Trump were to be removed as a candidate for president as a result of his conviction, whoever followed him in the Republican Party would be someone no less reactionary.

Kishore continued:

There can no longer be any “lesser of two evils” argument. The Democrats and Republicans represent the corporate and financial oligarchy, which is careening towards dictatorship. While Trump attempted to overthrow the Constitution on January 6, 2021, Biden is sanctioning and supporting mass murder in Gaza and rushing headlong toward nuclear war with Russia, while carrying out an unprecedented crackdown against peaceful student protesters on college campuses across the US.

Among workers and youth, there is broad dissatisfaction with both political parties and the entire socio-economic system. In a recent poll conducted among young registered voters (aged 18-30) by Blueprint and reported by Semafor, 51 percent of respondents agreed that the political system in the US “doesn’t work for people like me.”

The poll found a “whopping 65 percent agreed either strongly or somewhat that ‘nearly all politicians are corrupt, and make money from their political power,’—only 7% disagreed.”

The guilty verdict comes amidst a massive eruption of US imperialist violence abroad. The Israeli military, backed by the US government, continues its ethnic cleansing campaign in Gaza.

On Thursday, US military officials confirmed that US and British fighter jets carried out airstrikes in Yemen, including in the capital, Sana’a. The Associated Press reported that this is at least the fifth joint operation by the US and British militaries in Yemen since January 12.

It is unclear how many people were killed in the latest military strikes. Also on Thursday, multiple news outlets confirmed that Biden has given Ukraine the green light to strike targets, including “cities,” inside Russia with US-supplied weapons, greatly exacerbating the danger of nuclear war.