Trump's guilty verdict: a stress test for democracy

Historic… unprecedented… and guilty. You couldn't escape those words last week, after a former president of the United States was convicted of 34 crimes in New Yorka city he called home for a long time.

But beyond all the drama, CBS News legal assistant Rebecca Roiphe said, it was simply a jury of seven men and five women doing their duty — and respecting the statement: “No one is above the law.”

“You can have all kinds of power, you can have all kinds of wealth, but when you're in the courtroom, you're just like anyone else,” Roiphe said. 'Of course there are people who will look into this case not Look at it this way.”

Donald Trump is one of them.

“It was a rigged trial,” he claimed a day after he was found guilty. “We wanted a change of venue where we could get a fair trial. We didn't get that.”

Trump New York Manhattan Criminal Court
Former President Donald Trump walks out to deliver remarks to the press at Trump Tower, a day after being found guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, in New York, Friday, May 31, 2024.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images


President Joe Biden, meanwhile, defended the justice system. “The jury has heard five weeks of evidence,” he said Friday. “They found Donald Trump guilty on all 34 crimes. Now he will have the opportunity – as he should – to appeal that decision.”

The gravity of this moment is clear: a stress test for democracy just as the race between Trump and Biden is heating up. Less obvious is what happens next.

For example, can a convicted felon still become president? “Yes,” said Roiphe. “We have certain limitations [in the Constitution] about the presidency, and that's not one of them. … There is nothing stopping anyone from running for president, or becoming president, as a convicted felon.”

Trump will be sentenced on July 11, days before Republicans will nominate him again.

Trump attorney Todd Blanche admits it's possible his client could be in jail while the Republican National Convention is being held: “That's something I don't want to think about,” he said Friday. “I don't think it will happen. But of course it is possible.”

Either way, summer — with its debates, conventions and other political fireworks — will likely be a season of Trump's displeasure.

Trump's campaign says it raised more than $50 million 24 hours after the conviction. And Trump has kept the top Republicans (some appearing in court, wearing loyal red ties) on his side.

Author Michael Wolff covered the trial and has written several books about Trump. “This is a campaign, and this is a political career based on conflict, conflict, conflict, conflict,” Wolff said. 'Other politicians will run away from conflict. He's absolutely running towards it.

“The fact that this person continues to stand up to these things that no one could stand makes him somehow – strangely – heroic to a lot of people,” Wolff said.

For Wolff, this intersection is a reckoning with Trump – and with the combative New York world of notorious lawyers and fixers, hush money and tabloids that Trump has now made ours.

Costa asked Wolff, “What do you think of him, as a longtime observer and writer on Trump, someone who built his career in the 1970s and 1980s alongside a New York lawyer like Roy Cohn, and is now a convicted felon in Lower Manhattan ? Manhattan?”

“I mean, it's almost poetic,” Wolff replied. “If you were a writer and you were writing this story, it could end like this. The anomaly is that this is not necessarily where it ends, but it could very well end in the White House.”

cbs-nieuwspoll-trump-trial.jpg

CBS News



For more information:


Story produced by David Rothman. Editor: Chad Cardin.


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