In response to his conviction, Trump falsely criticizes a “rigged trial” and attacks a key witness

NEW YORK – Donald Trump attacked the judge and the main witness his criminal trial for hush money and on Friday he tried again to undermine New York’s criminal justice system, seeking to turn his 34-count felony conviction into fuel – rather than an obstacle – in his bid to return to the White House.

Trump spoke to reporters at his namesake tower in Manhattan on Friday, returning to the campaign a day after he was convicted of trying to illegally influence the 2016 election by falsifying business records to conceal money paid to a porn actor who claimed to have had sex.

The former GOP president, defiant as ever, argued that the ruling was illegal and political, and sought to downplay the facts behind the case.

“This is not quiet money. This is a confidentiality agreement. Completely legal, completely common,” he said.

In a message intended to mobilize his supporters, he described himself as a martyr, suggesting that if it could happen to him, “they could do it to anyone.”

He said he was “very honored to be involved” because “someone has to do it.”

“I am ready to do everything in my power to save our country and our constitution. It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “So we will continue to fight.”

President Joe Biden, in response to the White House verdict, said the former president “had every opportunity to defend himself” and criticized his rhetoric.

“It’s reckless, dangerous and irresponsible for anyone to claim it’s rigged just because they don’t like the verdict,” Biden said.

One sec conviction seemed to motivate Trump’s faithful base of supporters, including those who have begun donating to his campaign, it is unclear whether any of this will lend a hand him win over the independent voters who will decide the November election.

No former president or the party’s presumptive nominee has ever faced a criminal conviction or the prospect of prison time, and Trump is expected to focus attention on his legal problems in his campaign. He has long maintained without evidence that the four impeachments against him were orchestrated by Democratic President Joe Biden to keep him out of the White House. The hush money case was brought by local Manhattan prosecutors who do not work for the Justice Department or any White House office.

Trump, who has portrayed himself as a supporter of law enforcement and even talked about how officers can brutalize suspects, has spent the last two years attacking parts of the criminal justice system that affect him and raising questions about his fairness and motives. agents and prosecutors.

” READ MORE: Donald Trump’s conviction: will he go to prison? Can he still run for president? What will happen now?

After weeks of appearances mostly in an aging Manhattan courthouse, Trump decided to return to campaign mode on Friday in the atrium of his Trump Tower, a brass and pink marble lobby where he descended a golden escalator to announce his campaign for the year nine years ago next month 2016 .

“We will fight,” Trump said. “I am programmed in such a way that many people would have left long ago.”

When Trump emerged from the courtroom immediately after Thursday’s verdict, he appeared tense and deeply angry, his words sharp and sharp. But he seemed more relaxed at Trump Tower on Friday, especially as his speech continued and he transitioned into standard rally mode, complete with role-playing stories. He did not answer any questions from journalists.

Despite the historic ruling, the convicted Trump sounded almost the same as the previously convicted Trump, as he delivered what amounted to a truncated version of his usual speech at the rally.

In his rambling remarks, Trump initially began attacking Biden over immigration and tax policies, then moved on to his case, growling that he could face prison time if he violated gag order. He considered complex parts of the case and the court proceedings unfair, and made false and misleading statements.

Trump stated that he wanted to testify, but chose not to exercise this right. This would allow prosecutors to question him. The former president on Friday raised the specter of a perjury charge for a mistake in words, saying: “The theory is that you never testify because as soon as you testify – anyone, if it was George Washington – don’t testify because they will lead you at something you said slightly wrong.

Testing the limits of a gag order that prohibits him from publicly criticizing witnesses including Michael Cohen, Trump called his former fixer, the prosecution’s star witness in the case, “cool.”

” READ MORE: What Donald Trump’s conviction means for his chances in November

He also returned to the same authoritarian themes he has repeatedly focused on in speeches and rallies, portraying the United States under Biden as a “corrupt” and “fascist” nation.

He was joined by his son Eric Trump and daughter-in-law Lara Trump, but his wife Melania Trump, who has remained publicly silent since the verdict, was not seen.

Outside on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, supporters gathered across the street hung a giant red “TRUMP OR DEATH” sign that flew in front of an upscale boutique. A small group of protesters held signs reading “Guilty” and “Justice Matters.”

On Friday morning, the Trump campaign announced it had raised $34.8 million in an influx of donations in the hours after the verdict until midnight. That’s more than $1 million for each felony charge and more than his political operation combined in January and February.

Trump and his campaign had been preparing for days for a guilty verdict, although they had hoped for a hung jury. On Tuesday, Trump complained that even Mother Teresa, a nun and saint, could not overcome the allegations, which he repeatedly called “false.”

On Wednesday, his top advisers released a memo maintaining that the verdict would have no impact on the election, regardless of whether Trump was convicted or acquitted.

Nevertheless, the news caused a shock. Trump listened as the jury returned a guilty verdict in each case. As the verdict was read, Trump sat with a straight face.

His campaign launched a flurry of fundraising appeals, and GOP allies rallied behind him. One text message called him a “political prisoner,” although he has yet to learn whether he will be sentenced to prison. The campaign also began selling black “Make America Great Again” hats instead of the usual red ones to reflect “a shadowy day in history.”

Aides reported an immediate influx of donations so intense that WinRed, the platform the campaign used to raise funds, crashed. The $34.8 million raised on Thursday did not include what Trump raised at an in-person fundraiser or any donations that continued to come in online Friday.

Over the next two months, Trump will hold his first debate with Biden, announce his running mate and formally accept his party’s nomination at the Republican National Convention. However, before Trump goes to Milwaukee for the RNC meeting, he will have to return to court on July 11 for a ruling. He faces a penalty ranging from a fine or probation to four years in prison.

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