Former U.S. President Donald Trump found guilty in hush money trial

Donald Trump returns to court for his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Former U.S. President Donald Trump had been found guilty of falsifying business records in his hush money trial

The jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial reached a verdict on Thursday (May 30), signalling a highly anticipated culmination of the first criminal case against a former US president.

A jury found him guilty of falsifying business records to conceal a hush-money payment made to former porn star Stormy Daniels.

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He becomes the first former president to be convicted of a crime. The jury found the former US president guilty on all 34 counts.

The verdicts from the 12-person jury were delivered in the Manhattan courtroom where prosecutors spent weeks presenting allegations that Trump had participated in a hush money scheme aimed at suppressing stories he feared could be harmful to his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records at his company in connection with an alleged scheme to hide potentially embarrassing stories about him during his 2016 presidential election campaign.

The charge, a felony, arises from reimbursements paid to then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen after he made a 130,000 dollar (£102,000) hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to silence her claims that she and Trump had sex in 2006.

Trump is accused of misrepresenting Mr Cohen’s reimbursements as legal expenses to hide that they were tied to a hush money payment.

Trump pleaded not guilty and contended the Cohen payments were for legitimate legal services. He also denied the alleged extramarital sexual encounter with Ms Daniels.

After the verdicts, Trump is now expected to quickly appeal and will face an awkward dynamic as he seeks to return to the campaign trail as a convicted felon.

It is likely to take several months for Judge Juan Merchan, who oversaw the case, to decide whether to sentence Trump to prison.

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.

The conviction, and even imprisonment, will not bar Trump from continuing his pursuit of the White House.