Updated May 30, 2024 - Politics & Policy

"Justice!!!!!!": Democrats savor Trump guilty verdict

Former President Trump, wearing a blue suit and standing at the Manhattan Criminal Court.

Former President Trump at the Manhattan Criminal Court on May 30, 2024. Photo: JUSTIN LANE/POOL/AFP via Getty Image.

Democratic lawmakers are cheering the guilty verdict against former President Trump as a win for the rule of law and a potential political windfall.

Why it matters: The party's campaign apparatus is already using Trump's new "convicted felon" status to try to whack vulnerable Republicans.

  • Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio) told Axios: "He's now a convicted felon ... Many voters will be unwilling to vote for a convicted felon for President of the United States."
  • Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) said the presidential race will be a contrast between "a decent, good man" and a "convicted criminal," adding, "We're gonna hit that home."
  • "By standing with a now-convicted criminal, House Republicans are doubling down on their extremism – and it will cost them the House in November," said House Majority PAC President Mike Smith.

What happened: The jury in Trump's New York criminal trial found the former president guilty on all 34 felony counts stemming from charges he falsified business records, a verdict Trump is likely to appeal.

  • It's the first time a former American president has been found guilty of a crime, and presents an unprecedented legal and political scenario.

What they're saying: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a post to X on Thursday night, "No one is above the law. The verdict speaks for itself."

  • Several House Democrats who spoke to Axios reacted to the ruling with jubilation, with one senior lawmaker saying in a text, "Justice!!!!!!"
  • "The rule of law which the United States is founded upon shone bright to the world. In America, no one is above the law," said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.).
  • Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said the public "can feel good that this entire trial process went though with fairness to the defendant and a sense of decorum and dignity."

Between the lines: Many Democrats said they are not particularly fearful of violence in response to the verdict, beyond threats to the jury and judge, though some expressed concerns.

  • Cohen said Trump's speech following the verdict "could incite violence," calling it "completely inappropriate" and urging Trump supporters to "not allow his disgraceful comments to move them to disgraceful conduct."
  • "Of course we're concerned" about violence because Trump "has already shown he has no problem sending a mob of insurrectionists to attack the Capitol," Garcia said.

Zoom in: Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas), a staunch Trump ally, told Axios "there always could be unrest because "did anybody believe Donald Trump was going to get a fair trial in New York?"

  • But, Nehls added, "You may not see the violence because Republicans actually have jobs and go to work and try to raise a family."

What to watch: Despite Democrats' threats to tie them to Trump's conviction, some of the most vulnerable Republicans are still decrying the verdict.

  • Rep. Anthony D'Esposito (R-N.Y.) said New York prosecutors have "completed their shameful witch hunt against President trump by railroading a conviction through a partisan New York court."
  • The National Republican Congressional Committee, meanwhile, said in a fundraising text: "GUILTY? It's a dark day in America."

More from Axios:

Editor's note: This story has updated with comment from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and it has been corrected to reflect that Raskin is a Democrat (not a Republican).

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