A plan for all verdicts? How will Trump, voters respond to the outcome of his trial?

The Trump campaign has remained resolute in its assertion that the case, like the other prosecutions involving him, are political in nature and insists the proceedings will not stop his victory in November.

Published: May 25, 2024 10:59pm

The defense has rested in former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial and closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday, meaning a verdict could come as early as next week. The jury’s decision remains the subject of considerable speculation as does the impact of either a conviction or an acquittal.

But a verdict will come eventually and the Trump campaign will have to respond accordingly. Trump is almost certain to appeal a conviction while an acquittal could conceivably lend legitimacy to his claims of a broader, baseless political witch hunt designed to derail his 2024 bid to return to the White House.

Alternatively, if the verdict comes in against him, Trump could file for a "Judgement of Acquittal." Judges have the ability to overturn a jury verdict if there is insufficient evidence to support that verdict.  

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has brought the first criminal prosecution of a former president in U.S. history. He charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a 2016 payment that his then-attorney, Michael Cohen, made to Stormy Daniels. Trump has pleaded not guilty and the trial has proceeded for the past several weeks.

The Trump campaign, for its part, has remained resolute in its assertion that the case, like the other prosecutions involving him, are political in nature and insists the proceedings will not stop his victory in November.

“President Trump has established a commanding polling lead and Crooked Joe Biden is on the ropes. His Democrat Party allies are desperate, so they continue to try and push their ongoing Witch Hunts by abusing and misusing the power of their offices to interfere in the 2024 presidential election,” Trump Campaign National Press Secretary Karoline Leavitt told Just the News.

“President Trump and his legal team will continue to fight and crush the Biden Hoaxes all across the country and the American People will hold Crooked Joe and his comrades to account this Fall,” she continued.

Whether Trump is convicted or acquitted, the trial’s outcome could conceivably provide Trump with rhetorical fodder to advance his campaign.

Trump has repeatedly categorized the myriad prosecutions against him as part of a larger political witch hunt and has linked the prosecutors pursuing each case together as part of a so-called “Fraud Squad.

He currently faces two criminal cases, one in federal court brought by special counsel Jack Smith and one one in Georgia state court from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. He has appealed a civil fraud verdict in a case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Bragg’s was the first case to go to trial and an acquittal in that case would almost certainly see Trump cast doubt on the legitimacy of the remaining cases.

In the event of a conviction, Trump has already laid the groundwork for his messaging in how he has used some of his prior legal woes to campaign. Among the most notable instances was his incorporation of his mugshot from the Fulton County jail into campaign merchandise. He has also used Merchan’s imposition of fines for violating a gag order to solicit donations.

The case itself has had legal experts and media pundits struggling to find an underlying crime in the matter, a point Trump has repeatedly highlighted throughout the trial. Without the jury being convinced beyond a reasonable doubt there was an underlying crime, acquittal is a certainty.

“Every single legal scholar that I see, maybe there's somebody out there some whack job, but virtually everyone that I've seen have said that there's absolutely no case. It's a case that shouldn't have been brought,” Trump said earlier this month.

The former president has long sought to paint the case as a legal farce and, should he be convicted, would almost certainly use the conviction to claim the proceedings had been politicized and biased against him.

Judge Juan Merchan, who has overseen the case, twice refused Trump’s requests that he recuse himself in light of his daughter’s employment with Authentic, a firm that boasts both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as clients. Merchan’s handling of the case and Trump’s messaging on the matter already appears to have struck a chord with some legal analysts.

"The judge in Donald Trump’s trial was an absolute tyrant, though he appeared to the jury to be a benevolent despot," Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz wrote this week in an op-ed for the New York Post.

One week prior, Dershowitz told the “Just the News, No Noise” television show that he was “fairly confident this case will be reversed on appeal.”

“But the goal was to get a down and dirty conviction to influence the election, along with a gag order, and keeping him in the courtroom,” he added. “And they're achieving those political goals, even if they are using improper legal means to do it."

Trump’s message of a politicized prosecution appears to have resonated more with the public than his own protestations of his innocence. Some polling data has shown that, while a majority of the public believes Trump did commit crimes, they still believe that the Democrats are using the legal system to attack a political opponent.

In a recent Harvard/Harris survey, for example, 55% of respondents expressed that Trump had committed crimes for which he should be convicted, compared to 45% who believed he had not committed crimes. The same split occurred, however, on the nature of the cases. Fifty-five percent said the Democrats were using the legal system to attack Trump for political reasons while 45% said the cases were not political.

Polling data from John McLaughlin, moreover, has painted a similar picture, with 66% of voters saying "politics has played a role in the indictments.” Fifty-nine percent, moreover, said that Biden had played a role. Fifty-three percent said that Biden wants to prevent a Trump victory by “putting him in jail.”

Public opinion may change, however, in light of a felony conviction. An ABC News/Ipsos survey released earlier this month indicated that 16% of Trump’s supporters would “reconsider supporting him” if he were to be convicted, while 4% said they would “no longer support him.”

A Quinnipiac University survey, however, appeared to show more optimistic prospects for Trump in the event of a conviction, with 24% of his supporters indicating such a development would make them more likely to vote for him. A further 68% said it would make no difference, while only 6% said they would be less likely to vote for him in light of a conviction.

Will a conviction sink Trump? The vast majority of his supporters say it would be no big deal. But in an extremely tight race, that 6 percent could tip the balance," Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X.

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