What was Trump convicted of? Details of the 34 charges and his guilty verdict

Former president Donald Trump's conviction in New York came from a $130,000 “hush money” payment his attorney Michael Cohen hooked up with adult film star Stormy Daniels in the days before the 2016 election. Prosecutors said the deal was intended to keep voters in the dark about Daniels' claim that she had sex with Trump years earlier, which he denies.

But the actual charges Trump faced were far less outrageous and related to the relatively mundane paperwork generated when he reimbursed Cohen for the payment.

Here's what you need to know about the charges Trump faced:

What was Trump convicted of?

Trump was charged with 34 counts of first-degree falsification of corporate records, which is a felony in New York. When he was brought to trial last year, he pleaded not guilty.

In 2017, Cohen and Allen Weisselberg, an executive at the Trump Organization, reached an agreement how Cohen would be repaid for the $130,000 he sent to Daniels in exchange for her silence. Weisselberg has described the calculations in detail in handwritten notes which were shown to the jury during the trial.

Cohen would receive $130,000 for Daniels' payment, plus $50,000 earmarked for a technology company that did unrelated work for Trump. That amount was doubled to take into account taxes Cohen would have to pay on the income. Weisselberg then added an additional $60,000 as a bonus for Cohen, who was upset that his regular year-end bonus had been cut. The total came to $420,000.

Handwritten notes from Allen Weisselberg showing the math behind payments to Michael Cohen as shown during former President Donald Trump's trial in New York on Monday, May 13, 2024.
Handwritten notes from Allen Weisselberg showing the math behind payments to Michael Cohen as shown during former President Donald Trump's trial in New York on Monday, May 13, 2024.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office


Cohen would be paid in a series of monthly payments of $35,000 over the course of 2017. The first check was for $70,000, for two months. Cohen sent an invoice to the Trump Organization for each check, portraying the payment as his “commission.” Accountants then generated a record for the company's books, known as a voucher, with the description “legal fees” each time he was paid. The first three payments were made from Trump's trust, while the remaining nine came from his personal account.

Each of the 34 charges against Trump corresponded to a check, invoice and voucher generated to reimburse Cohen. The prosecutor laid out the charges in a table that jurors saw several times during the trial:

The charges against former President Donald Trump are shown in a chart prepared by prosecutors in Manhattan.
The charges against former President Donald Trump are shown in a chart prepared by prosecutors in Manhattan.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office


Prosecutors said Trump knew the payments were to reimburse Cohen for paying Daniels, not for his legal fees.

The jury voted to convict on all 34 counts. While Trump watchedthe clerk of the court asked the foreman of the jury for the verdict.

“What are your thoughts on the first count of the indictment, which charges Donald J. Trump with the crime of falsifying corporate records in the first degree, guilty or not guilty?” the clerk asked.

“Guilty,” the foreman replied, repeating the answer 33 more times.

Why were the charges a crime?

Under New York law, falsifying business records is a crime when the records are altered with the intent to defraud. To be charged as a crime, prosecutors must also prove that the perpetrator intended to “commit another crime” or “aid or conceal” another crime in falsifying records.

In Trump's case, prosecutors said other crimes violated a New York election law that makes it illegal for “two or more persons” to “conspire to unlawfully interfere with the election of any person to public office.” promote or prevent”. ', as Judge Juan Merchan explained in his statement instructions to the jury.

What exactly those “illegal means” were in this case was up to the jury to decide. Prosecutors have raised three areas they could consider: a violation of federal campaign finance law, falsification of other corporate documents or a violation of tax laws.

Jurors did not have to agree on what the underlying “illegal means” were. But they were forced to unanimously conclude that Trump arranged for the company's records to be falsified and that he did so “with the intent to defraud, including the intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission.”

What was Trump's defense?

Attorney Todd Blanche presents his closing argument in the criminal trial of former President Donald Trump in New York on Tuesday, May 28, 2024.
Attorney Todd Blanche presents his closing argument in the criminal trial of former President Donald Trump in New York on Tuesday, May 28, 2024.

Jane Rosenberg


Trump's lawyers argued that the payments to Cohen were for his work as Trump's lawyer, and not reimbursements for the Daniels payment.

The defense argued that the descriptions on the invoices and documents were accurate — Cohen held the title “personal attorney to the president” when Trump took office, and was paid for his legal services under an unwritten retainer agreement. Therefore, their argument went, no company data was falsified.

They also focused much of their firepower Painting Cohen as a liar, with the aim of discrediting his testimony. Cohen was the only witness to testify that Trump knew about the true purpose of the refunds, a crucial pillar in prosecutors' efforts to prove Trump's intentions.

Ultimately, jurors rejected the defense's arguments and sided with prosecutors in finding Trump guilty.

When will Trump be convicted?

Shortly after the verdict was handed down, Judge Merchan set Trump's sentencing date for July 11, just days before the start of the Republican National Convention.

Under New York law, each charge of falsifying business records in the first degree carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison and a $5,000 fine. But Merchan has broad discretion when it comes to imposing a sentence. Most legal observers to expect him to punish Trump with little or no time behind bars, based on factors such as Trump's status as a first-time offender and his age. Merchan could instead rely on options such as probation, house arrest or just a fine.

Trump has vowed to appeal the verdict, and any sentence could be delayed until that trial is completed.

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