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Trump verdict reaction: From 'no one is above the law' to 'a failure of democracy'

Donald Trump after verdict
Seth Wenig/AP
Former President Donald Trump walks to make comments to members of the media after being found guilty on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree at Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday, May 30, 2024, in New York.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Reaction was strong and swift Thursday as Donald Trump became the first former president to be convicted of felony crimes in the nation's nearly 250-year history.

"I’m not happy about the crimes, the corruption, or the convictions — yet I am joyful for our democracy," said U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Democrat who represents parts of Montgomery and Berks counties. "Because no one is above the law. We are a system of laws, not of men."

A New York jury found Trump guilty of falsifying business records in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election through hush money payments to a porn actress who said the two had sex.

Jurors convicted Trump on all 34 counts after deliberating for nearly 10 hours over two days.

“The prosecution’s frivolous case against Donald Trump was a weaponization of our justice system and a blatant attempt to undermine democracy," said U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, a Republican whose 9th Congressional District covers parts of northeast Pennsylvania.

In April, Meuser introduced Trump to a crowd of thousands during a campaign rally in Schnecksville in Lehigh County. He said the charges were politically motivated.

"Prosecuting political opponents happens in third-world countries not in America," he said. "Our adversaries are viewing this as a failure of democracy. Americans should take notice.

"If America can do this to a former president and leading GOP candidate for president, Americans should ask ‘Who’s next?'"

“I think this is definitely going to help him.”
Glenn Geissinger, chairman of the Northampton County Republican Committee

The verdict exposes Trump to potential prison time. Sentencing is set for July 11, a few days before the Republican National Convention at which Trump is prepared to accept the party's nomination as he seeks a return to the White House in this year’s election.

Glenn Geissinger, chairman of the Northampton County Republican Committee, said Trump was the victim of a politically tainted miscarriage of justice.

“I think the bottom line is many of us felt that this kangaroo court was going to convict him and that’s exactly what happened," said Geissinger, a former county councilman.

"There’s no validity to the charges. This is obviously a political attack on the former president and it’s going to continue to play out.”

Geissinger said while opponents may claim the conviction damages Trump and his chances of defeating President Joe Biden in November, Trump's poll numbers and campaign war chests will grow.

“I think this is definitely going to help him,” Geissinger said.

Dave McCormick, a Republican seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., in the general election, said he looked forward to Trump's appeal of his conviction.

Trump announced his endorsement of McCormick at the Lehigh Valley rally last month.

“This is a terrible day for America and for trust in our justice system," said McCormick, who made a campaign stop in Nazareth on Wednesday hosted by the Northampton County chapter of Moms for Liberty.

"This case should never have been brought in the first place, and this miscarriage of justice is despicable."

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 Manhattan Judge Juan Merchan — who earlier in the trial warned of jail time for gag order violations — would impose that punishment even if sought by prosecutors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.