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Our View: Trump supporters know better – invoices, signed checks prove guilt

Despite the sizzle and spectacle that was the People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump, the case came down to documents.

The wattage of porn star Stormy Daniels; catch-and-kill story explanations from David Pecker, former publisher of The National Enquirer; and finger-pointing at previous Trump fixer/lawyer Michael Cohen presented some flashy moments in this courtroom drama. Trump, of course, contributed snide comments.

But the proof that Trump falsified – repeatedly – business records to conceal the $130,000 payout to Daniels and unlawful activity from U.S. voters before the 2016 election, came down to fundamental realities.

Figures in a ledger, invoices, emails and checks signed by Trump himself – 34 counts’ worth. Twelve jurors’ only role was to address evidence, with their findings unanimous. With a no-nonsense, disciplined manner, the judge decided the law.

Justice was speedy. No mistrial, no hung jury. Definitive. Guilty.

Despite Trump’s defense, the case was never about whether he had been intimate with Daniels. It didn’t matter whether Cohen lied or Trump was too busy tending to visiting heads of state to notice the checks he signed. Over many years, Trump has made it clear that he personally watched his campaign and personal finances.

He didn’t fool anyone.

Trump’s familiar cries of victimhood, a rigged system and a crooked judge went nowhere. His verbal attacks toward judiciary staff members sounded awfully similar to those he spewed toward 2020 election officials.

A civil society depends on rule of law. Rule of law ruled.

Now, the name Donald Trump will always come before or after the words “convicted felon.”

In the aftermath of the verdict, his followers – both elected politicians and American citizens – are publicly parroting his rants. Many of whom know better. This point is key. It’s blind loyalty with unquestionable evidence ignored.

Other citizens are stunned. A recent New York Times/Siena College poll of swing voters – Republicans, independents, Democrats – showed most did not expect Trump to be convicted.

And while this all happens, a new fissure deepens and widens, splitting our country further over the validity of our legal and democratic systems. This is scary.

What’s next?

We’re as good at looking into a crystal ball as anyone else. Scheduled to be sentenced on July 11, Trump will then join Republicans as they name their presidential nominee. For a first-time, nonviolent felon, jail time is highly unlikely. We’d bet on probation.

Also, we expect to see more energy and interest around restoring voting rights to those convicted of felonies. The Sentencing Project says about 4.4 million people are unable to vote because of past felony convictions, with 1.1 million in Florida, Trump’s adopted state.

Unless he’s incarcerated, Trump could vote in New York. As a felon, voting in Florida would be more complicated. But Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he’ll ensure the state clemency board clears the way for his former rival.

Already sharing a narrative of persecution, Trump has fundraised from the moment he stepped outside that courtroom.

In previous cases, he’s been found liable for fraud, sex abuse and defamation. This felony conviction – historic, unprecedented – is something else.

It has a different smell. The success of a future appeal is improbable. With indisputable evidence, the court of public opinion has no sway. Documents, including signed checks, can’t be spun.