Morning Report — Trump is convicted, but will it matter?


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Former President Trump on Thursday made history as a convicted felon after a New York jury found the presidential candidate guilty on all 34 counts in a hush money trial after 12 jurors deliberated for two days.

Justice Juan Merchan in New York set sentencing on July 11, days before Trump is set to be nominated as the GOP presidential standard-bearer at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

Trump’s legal team plans to appeal the convictions, and the former president vowed to “fight” while campaigning to defeat President Biden — a political aim Trump’s status as a felon will not derail.

Trump does not now and would not as president have authority over the New York conviction or state investigations and prosecutions. Under the Constitution, Trump can campaign for the presidency as a felon, even be sentenced to prison, be nominated to lead his party, be elected by the voters and be inaugurated. As president for another term, Trump could pardon himself, disband all pending Justice Department investigations that affect him and purge federal appointees he perceives as opponents.

“The real verdict is going to be November 5th by the people,Trump said with a stern expression after each “guilty” verdict was read aloud in the courtroom.

“I’m a very innocent man,” he told reporters.

In law, governance and politics, Trump’s conviction puts the country in uncharted waters. The former president will turn next to the court of public opinion, where his supporters share his view that he’s a victim of Democratic enemies, committed no crime and is within his rights to try to trounce his foes. 

The Washington Post: Challenges face the jurors in the Trump trial.

A spokesperson for the Biden campaign warned that Trump remains intent on “revenge and retribution” but can be blocked from the Oval Office “at the ballot box. Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president.”  

Trump faces additional criminal charges in Georgia, Florida and Washington, D.C. It’s doubtful those slow-moving prosecutions will come to trial before November. Some legal experts viewed the Manhattan case as the weakest against Trump.

The Supreme Court will rule within weeks on whether a current or former president has absolute immunity from prosecution. The politician who in 2016 told supporters, I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” was found guilty of class E felony counts in his hometown, which could result in probation, a fine or up to four years in prison per count.

The former president’s conviction on felony falsification of business records launched howls of protest from conservatives who perceived the New York prosecution from the outset as legally precarious and cooked up by Democrats.

But some conservative candidates running in districts and states where Trump fatigue is evident are unsure how Thursday’s news may shift voters’ outlooks about politics and the presidential contenders. Conservatives hope the verdict mobilizes Republican voters who want the House, Senate and White House under GOP control.

“Politically I think that’s going to help President Trump,” conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt told Fox News. “I’ve already seen the donation notices coming out. It’s an avalanche of donations for Donald Trump. I expect the whirlwind will be [a] huge uptick in turnout and contributions.”

Conversely, Democrats who have publicly agonized about recent polls that show Trump leading Biden want to use Thursday’s conviction to try to scare voters, including independents, to get engaged to defeat the Trump ticket.

The Hill’s Niall Stanage: Five takeaways from the Trump verdict.

More reactions and political analyses appear below. 

3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY

▪ Weaker U.S. economic expansion, declining home sales, rising mortgage rates: The news Thursday was discouraging for consumers. But there’s a silver lining: high borrowing costs are likely to ease.

▪ After months of delays, errors and complaints involving a new student financial aid form, the Education Department promises a “full-scale review” of the federal financial aid office. 

▪ There’s been a lot of noise around the future of AM radio during the first two and a half years of Curtis LeGeyt’s tenure as president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters.

🚨 The Hill’s Maternal Mental Health series:

▪ Black women face extraordinary maternal mental health challenges.

▪ The climate crisis is coming for “the CEO of the family‘s health.”

▪ The U.S. faces a deadly maternal mental health crisis — and it may be getting worse.

▪ Widespread disrespect and abuse in maternity care leave mothers with lasting trauma.

LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS

TRUMP’S GUILTY VERDICT is throwing the presidential election into uncharted territory as Republicans and Democrats grapple with how to move forward in the wake of the historic development. Reactions to the verdict from both sides of the aisle poured in on Thursday, with Trump fundraising off of the announcement while the Biden campaign proclaimed the trial’s outcome proves that “no one is above the law.”

But with the verdict out and sentencing scheduled ahead of the GOP convention, both camps will confront a scenario that no other presidential campaign has ever faced (The Hill).

“People tend to be motivated to vote in opposition to something,” said Justin Sayfie, a GOP strategist. “When you get a victory like the conservatives had a victory when Roe was overturned, you kind of feel a little complacent. I think the same thing is happening now with this legal verdict, which is Democrats got what they wanted. Republicans are rip-roaring upset and they’re going to express those emotions at the polls.”

Republicans are already rallying behind Trump after the verdict, especially those on the shortlist for the vice-presidential ticket, which Trump expects to announce ahead of the RNC. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called the verdict “a complete travesty that makes a mockery of our system of justice.”

But even those who have not been among Trump’s most ardent supporters chimed in to back him Thursday. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said in a statement that he was “shocked” by the verdict and laid blame at the feet of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D), whom he called a “radical, politically-motivated state prosecutor … using the full weight of his office to go after President Trump at the same time he turned a blind eye to violent criminals.”

▪ The Hill: Here are the Republicans supporting Trump post-verdict.

▪ The Hill: Trump adviser Chris LaCivita said former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who is running for Senate, ended his campaign with remarks he shared in the lead-up to the decision in the former president’s hush money case.

HOW THE VERDICT WILL INFLUENCE VOTERS in November remains unclear. Polls had suggested that if a jury determined Trump was guilty of a crime, only a small number of voters said they would change their minds about the election (NPR).

And Trump himself has been laying substantial groundwork to discredit the prosecutorial and judicial figures in his hush money trial, write The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Brett Samuels. Trump’s messaging echoes the same tactics he used around the 2020 election, when he spent weeks casting doubt on the reliability of mail-in voting and refused to commit to accepting the election results, ultimately dismissing his defeat as the result of a “rigged” process despite no evidence of widespread fraud.

“He’ll spin the verdict to exactly what he wants,” said one Democratic strategist who expressed concern that while the criminal trials were important, they would ultimately lose meaning because of the man at the center of them. “This is a meta moment because it means so much, and ultimately, because of him and the spin he’ll put on this, it might mean nothing.”

2024 ROUNDUP

Veepstakes: Former GOP presidential primary candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, a Trump supporter, would like to join the Republican ticket. The young conservative businessman has found a way to keep his name in the news: He acquired a nearly 10 percent stake in digital outlet BuzzFeed.

▪ Social platform X and cable news network NewsNation are planning to host live town halls with Trump and independent presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Nexstar owns both NewsNation and The Hill.

▪ New York voters have an especially dim view of New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), according to a new Emerson College Polling/The Hill/PIX11 poll. Biden is leading Trump in the Empire State, but by single digits, the survey finds. The Empire State in 2020 voted for Biden over Trump by a decisive 61 percent to 38.

▪ Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Wednesday he will not enter the governor’s race in West Virginia, shooting down speculation the retiring senator might be considering a last-minute bid for his old job.


© The Associated Press / J. Scott Applewhite | Associate Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has come under fire for flying controversial flags at his house.

SUPREME COURT

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday declined a request to meet with Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) about their push for Associate Justice Samuel Alito to recuse himself from upcoming high court cases dealing with Jan. 6, 2021, and the effort to overturn the 2020 election. Alito declined to recuse himself (The Hill).

The Hill: The Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that the National Rifle Association (NRA) can move forward in a free speech fight against Maria Vullo, who previously ran the New York Department of Financial Services. She began investigating the gun-rights group in 2017, eventually probing NRA-endorsed insurance programs.

WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet at 9:30 a.m. for a pro forma session.

The Senate will convene at 4:30 p.m. for a pro forma session.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 8 a.m. at his home at Rehoboth Beach, Del., before returning to the White House at 11 a.m. Biden at 2:30 p.m. will meet with Prime Minister Alexander De Croo of Belgium. He will welcome the Super Bowl LVIII champion Kansas City Chiefs to the East Room at 4:15 p.m. The president will then depart the White House to return to his Delaware beach home by 8 p.m.  

The vice president is in Los Angeles and heads to San Diego for a campaign fundraiser at 3:40 p.m. PT before returning to her LA home.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Prague where he met this morning with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg before an informal meeting of the North Atlantic Council. The secretary will meet with his counterparts from France, Germany and the U.K. this afternoon before a press conference in Prague.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will meet with De Croo of Belgium at 11 a.m., prior to Biden’s meeting with the prime minister.

First lady Jill Biden will travel to Milwaukee to speak at Festa Italiana at 6:15 p.m. local time. She will then travel to Erie, Pa.

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff will speak at a Los Angeles campaign fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. PT.

ZOOM IN

Congress McConnell 050824 AP J. Scott Applewhite

© The Associated Press / J. Scott Applewhite | Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the Capitol.

CONGRESS

DEFENSE SPENDING: GOP lawmakers are facing an internal battle over defense spending as prominent Republicans — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee — are pushing for big increases in defense spending while conservatives are raising alarms over the debt and pledging to put the brakes on additional spending in Ukraine (The Hill).

The Hill: More than a dozen internet service providers have agreed to continue offering discounted internet plans to low-income households through the end of 2024, as the federal program subsidizing the discounts comes to an end.

Liberal Democrats are going after Biden for his approach to Israel’s incursion into Rafah, accusing the president of caving on his “red lines” warning to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to storm into the city for fear of outsized civilian casualties. The Democrats say Netanyahu has clearly crossed that line and want the president to make good on his vow to halt the delivery of certain weapon systems to Israel as a result of those military operations (The Hill).

“The IDF’s attack on a tent camp of innocents in Rafah is an indefensible atrocity,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) wrote on the social platform X. “This was done in open defiance of @POTUS’s red line and the ICJ’s call for a ceasefire. It is long past time for the President to live up to his word and suspend military aid.”

ELSEWHERE

International Ukraine 021124 AP Evan Vucci

© The Associated Press / Evan Vucci | President Biden traveled to Kyiv in 2023 to show support for Ukraine and President Volodymyr Zelensky.

INTERNATIONAL

Biden has given permission to Ukraine to use U.S.-supplied weapons to strike inside Russian territory, Politico reports. The president has restricted their use so Kyiv can only hit targets over the border close to Kharkiv after Russia made significant advances around the city in the northeastern part of the country close to the Russian border. The loosening of the restrictions marks a break from long-standing policy, and fears of regional escalation, and comes amid growing international pressure from close U.S. allies (The Hill).

“The president recently directed his team to ensure that Ukraine is able to use U.S. weapons for counter-fire purposes in Kharkiv so Ukraine can hit back at Russian forces hitting them or preparing to hit them,” a U.S. official said, adding that the policy of not allowing long-range strikes inside Russia “has not changed.”

Al Jazeera: North Korea has launched multiple short-range ballistic missiles, South Korea’s military said, as it continues to develop its military weaponry in breach of international sanctions.

Conditions in Gaza are “worse now than ever before,” Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said Thursday, as Israel’s offensive into Gaza proceeds and the United Nations says food shipments have dropped by two-thirds. Aid delivery efforts have been hampered by the Israeli push into Rafah, and the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Wednesday that the amount of food entering Gaza since the offensive began has shrunk by nearly 70 percent (The Washington Post).

OPINION

■ Donald Trump, felon, by The New York Times editorial board.

■ Assassination nation: Russia has Zelensky in its crosshairs, by Jonathan Sweet and Mark Toth, opinion contributors, The Hill. 

THE CLOSER

Quiz Paris Olympics 040924 AP Michel Euler

© The Associated Press / Michel Euler | The upcoming Summer Olympics in Paris mean skyrocketing hotel room prices in the City of Lights.

And finally … 👏👏👏 Congratulations to this week’s Morning Report Quiz winners! With warm-weather months ahead, readers flew through The Hill’s puzzle about getaway travel.

Here’s who went 3/3: Susan Reeves, Harry Strulovici, Tom Chabot, Catherine Szkop, Bill Bennett, Pam Manges, Linda L. Field, Sharon Banitt, John Trombetti, Mark Roeddiger, Nicholas Genimatas, Gary Kalian, Rick Schmidtke and Carmine Petracca.

*Note* Technology gobbled up 43 million and a decimal point yesterday morning, so the correct answer for question one did not appear as an option. According to AAA, Memorial Day weekend was the busiest start-of-summer travel weekend in nearly 20 years, with an estimated 43.8 million U.S. explorers.

Prices for Paris hotel rooms are expected to double this summer because of the Summer Olympics.

A U.S. summer travel boom has been fueled by low unemployment, easing inflation and high consumer curiosity, according to travel experts. The best quiz answer: All of the above.

The travel industry predicts long airport lines and possible flight delays this summer because of a persistent 3,000-person shortage of air traffic controllers.

Stay Engaged

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