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EXPLAINER: What does Trump’s conviction mean for his presidential bid?

Donald Trump, former US president Donald Trump, former US president

Since leaving the White House in January 2021, Donald Trump has been plotting a return to power — unfazed by the legal tangle his life has become.

With four criminal charges, the former president’s conviction on May 30 was the latest addition to his collection of firsts, making him the first former president in US history to be convicted of a felony.

The businessman is also the first former US president to have a mugshot, to face federal charges, and the first presumptive Republican nominee to become a convicted felon. 

With his third presidential bid underway, the stakes are indeed high for Trump and country.

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A QUICK GLANCE AT THE CASES

Hush money trial

The case against Trump was also a novel application of state and federal fraud and campaign finance laws, predicated on a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

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Daniels said she was paid $130,000 to remain quiet after having sex with Trump. The former president denies the encounter took place.

Hush money is not illegal. The technicality stems from how Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer who disbursed the money to Daniels, had his reimbursement recorded in the former president’s accounts.

Trump was accused of falsifying his business records by saying the payment was for legal fees and faced 34 counts of fraud under campaign finance laws. 

Falsifying business records charges come with up to four years behind bars.

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Prosecutors have not said whether they intend to seek imprisonment, and it is unclear if the judge — who earlier in the trial warned of jail time for gag order violations — would impose that punishment even if pressed. 

Trump’s sentencing on the guilty verdict is scheduled for July 11.

Classified documents

Trump was indicted in June 2023 by a federal grand jury in Miami for taking classified national defense documents from the White House after he left office.

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According to prosecutors, Trump resisted the government’s attempts to retrieve the materials.

An indictment released by the US department of justice showed that the former president is facing 37 criminal counts over retaining national defence information, nuclear secrets, exposing information, and obstruction of justice.

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The former president has denied the allegations.

Aileen Cannon, presiding judge, indefinitely postponed the trial on May 7, citing “significant issues” around classified evidence that would need to be worked out before the federal criminal case goes to a jury.

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Election interference

Trump is being investigated for attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

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The indictment alleges that Trump and a co-conspirator “attempted to exploit the violence and chaos at the Capitol by calling lawmakers to convince them… to delay the certification” of the election. 

It also alleges another co-conspirator pushed then-Vice President Mike Pence to “violate the law” to delay President Joe Biden’s victory. The Trump campaign issued a statement shortly after the indictment denying the allegations. 

A date for the trial has not been fixed.

Election interference (again)

Last year, an Atlanta-based grand jury indicted Trump and 18 others on state charges, stemming from their alleged attempts to overturn the former president’s 2020 electoral defeat. 

Fani Willis, Fulton county district attorney, charged the former president on accounts of false statements and filing false documents.

In March, Scott McAfee, superior court judge, dismissed six of the 41 counts from the indictment, including three that applied to Trump. 

A date has not been fixed for the trial.

CAN TRUMP STILL RUN FOR PRESIDENCY?

According to the US constitution, a candidate is only required to be a natural born citizen, at least 35 years old, and a resident of the US for at least 14 years, to have their name on the ballot for the presidency. 

Trump ticks all boxes.

In theory, he could be sworn in from jail if he were to unseat President Joe Biden from the ballot. 

Whether being convicted is enough to dissuade voters and ‘Trumpists’ is subject matter for another day. 

A recent poll of registered voters found 67 percent as saying that convicting Trump for hush money will not be a factor in how they vote. 

While 15 percent said a guilty verdict could more likely make them vote for Trump, 17 percent said it would make them less likely to vote for him come November.

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