Some Republicans call Trump’s guilty verdict ‘a sham.’ Here’s what NC lawmakers say.

Published May 30, 2024

By News and Observer

Note: This article was first published in The News and Observer, May 30, 2024. Written by Danielle Battaglia

Rep. Richard Hudson called the verdict in former President Donald Trump’s hush-money trial “a complete and total SHAM” after a jury found Trump guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Rep. Deborah Ross, a Democrat from Wake County, said the historic conviction shows that “no one is above the law.”

On Thursday, Trump became the first former U.S. president convicted of a felony.

North Carolina lawmakers reacted quickly in both social media posts and news releases. Many defended Trump, insulted the prosecution and spread conspiracy theories. Others applauded the functioning of the judicial system.

And Rep. Dan Bishop, a Republican from Waxhaw, created a stir on social media by posting: “Lawfare has reached its Waterloo. A reckoning is coming for gangster government.”

Bishop chose not to run for reelection and instead is running for state attorney general.

Hudson, who leads the National Republican Congressional Committee, posted on social media: “The American people know that this verdict is election interference.”

He repeated false conspiracy theories about President Joe Biden, who will face Trump in the general election. “I stand with President Trump,” Hudson wrote.

The trial was in a state-level case spearheaded by a New York district attorney, not one brought by the Biden administration at the federal level.

Trump faces another 54 charges across three cases, including some stemming from his role in the attempts to overturn Biden’s election.

Since April 22, jurors have listened to evidence and testimony accusing Trump of falsifying business records connected to $130,000 spent to stop adult film star Stormy Daniels from discussing an alleged sexual encounter she and Trump had prior to the 2016 election.

On Thursday, those jurors found Trump guilty on all counts. The verdict announcement came just moments before the judge was set to send them home for the evening.

Rep. Deborah Ross, a Democrat from Wake County, wrote on social media that “this is how the legal system is supposed to work.” “A jury of his peers deliberated the facts and came to this unanimous decision,” Ross posted on social media. “The bottom line is that no one is above the law.”

The prosecution laid out a case to the jurors that Trump made the payments to illegally influence the 2016 presidential election and committed tax fraud.

Defense attorneys argued that Trump, who pleaded not guilty, made the payments to shield family members from embarrassment.

Trump served as president from 2017 to 2021, but lost his 2020 reelection bid to Biden. That led to conspiracy theories of voter fraud and an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, where supporters of Trump tried to stop the certification of Biden’s election.

Trump will be sentenced in this case at 10 a.m. July 11, just days before the Republican National Committee’s convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He is 77 years old.

Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican, posted that he was shocked by the verdict and that the case should have never been brought forward.

“From the beginning, it was clear that a radical, politically-motivated state prosecutor was using the full weight of his office to go after President Trump at the same time he turned a blind eye to violent criminals,” Tillis said. “I expect and hope that President Trump will appeal this verdict to address fundamental questions, including whether President Trump received a fair trial and whether the Manhattan D.A. even had jurisdiction on a federal election matter.”

Republican Sen. Ted Budd called the verdict, “a total disgrace” and said other officials turned down prosecuting the case because Trump “committed no crime.”

“President Trump deserves the same Constitutional rights as any American,” Budd said. “But from the start, this was a rigged charade designed to weaponize the justice system to interfere in the presidential election and hurt President Trump. If Americans can be found guilty of a crime based on underlying allegations that were never charged, all of our constitutional rights are at risk.”

Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican, said in a news release that the district attorney “engaged in legal alchemy that has set a very damning precedent” and said that the verdicts are “steeped in partisan animus.”

She said she believes the verdicts will be thrown out on appeal, but the damage to Trump has been done.

“This is beyond outrageous,” Foxx said. “The rule of law has long served as the foundation for our country, but today, a dark, new chapter has been opened — one where judicial warfare is given a higher priority than fairness.”

Rep. David Rouzer, a Republican, said the trial had weak evidence, questionable witnesses and bent rules. He called it “a failure of what is suppose to be an impartial judicial process.”

Bishop, earlier had said Americans will have the ultimate verdict when they vote Trump back into office. Election Day is Nov. 5, and the conviction does not prevent Trump from running for office.

Rep. Greg Murphy, a Republican recovering from surgery on a tumor near his brain, said, “We are officially now a banana republic,” using a derogatory term used to describe tyrannical countries in the tropics.

Rep. Wiley Nickel, a Democrat, said in a news release that the American people had been “lied to enough by the former President.”

“It’s no wonder that trust in government is at an all-time low,” Nickel said. “I’m glad to finally have some honesty and truth from this verdict so that our country can begin to heal from President Trump’s divisive rhetoric and extremism. Donald Trump should never be in a position of power again.”

Trump’s trial began on April 15 with jury selection. Trump was required to attend each day, and was the first former president to ever be held in contempt of court for violating a gag order. The judge found Trump in violation of the gag order 10 times.

Video cameras were not allowed in the courtroom, leaving the public to rely on reporters inside to detail what was happening. Trump chose not to testify during the trial.

This story was originally published May 30, 2024, 6:19 PM.