Convicted, Trump Blames Judge, Jury and a Country ‘Gone to Hell’


Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

For the first time in his 77 years, Mr. Trump was a felon. Thirty-four times over, he was told. It was unambiguous. It was certain. It was happening.

Before he emerged into the dimly lit hallway on the 15th floor of that dingy Art Deco courthouse, he huddled, for a spell, with his team. There was his son Eric Trump and a longtime loyalist, Boris Epshteyn. There was one of his lawyers from a different case, Alina Habba, and also his campaign spokesman, Steven Cheung. They put their heads together, but there was little mystery as to what the message might be. For months, Mr. Trump has cast himself as a martyr. And now, the moment had come. It was 5:19 p.m.

His advisers stepped aside, and he lumbered to the middle of the hall to face the cameras arranged there. Todd Blanche, Mr. Trump’s lead lawyer, stood a half-step behind, mimicking his client’s scowl.

“This was a disgrace,” Mr. Trump began.

He went on to lay out the story at the heart of his campaign for the White House, his conviction folding neatly into the narrative. These are not his problems. They are the nation’s. This is happening not because he hid payments to a porn star but because “our whole country is being rigged” and “has gone to hell.”

“We’re a nation in decline, serious decline. Millions and millions of people, pouring into our country right now, from prisons and from mental institutions, terrorists,” he said, his eyes narrowed. “And they’re taking over our country.”

In contrast, Mr. Trump said, “I’m a very innocent man. And it’s OK. I’m fighting for our country. I’m fighting for our Constitution.”

In Mr. Trump’s telling, he was doomed from the start — a New York jury would never have acquitted him.

He had talked so differently about the city just days earlier, when he held a rally in the Bronx, calling his “hometown” the “bustling center of a confident, glamorous American culture.” On that day, he had told his supporters that to be a New Yorker meant you “had smarts, you had grit, you had energy and above all else, you had heart.”

But now, that jury wasn’t full of his New Yorkers, Mr. Trump seemed to suggest. They were Democrats. “They wouldn’t give us a venue change. We were at 5 or 6 percent in this district, in this area,” he said.

Mr. Trump pointed to the next battle — not an appeal but an election. “This is long from over. Thank you very much.” He turned on his heel and stalked out.

“Are you going to drop out?” a reporter shouted after him.

Members of the news media from around the world were camped outside, hungry for a shot of him leaving the courthouse. When news of the verdict had gone up, the little park across the street had erupted in cheers. “Lock him up!” some people shouted. At the same time, Mr. Trump’s campaign was busy blasting out fund-raising emails describing Mr. Trump as “a political prisoner.” A short while later, at 7:33 p.m., his campaign refined its message, sending out a text to supporters: “JUSTICE IS DEAD IN AMERICA! Our country has fallen!”

The usual parade of Trump supporters who populated that park all week were nowhere to be found. When Mr. Trump emerged, his head was hung, his blue tie glinting in the early evening light. He climbed into a Chevy Suburban and took off for his fortress on Fifth Avenue.

He posted on his Truth social account, writing “VICTORY ON NOVEMBER 5TH. SAVE AMERICA!!!” (Meanwhile, shares in the company that owns that platform began to plummet immediately after the verdict.)

Back at Trump Tower, crowds had gathered. Before he walked inside, he turned around and raised his fist above his head, grimacing but silent. He had said his piece in public for the day.

His campaign scheduled a news conference for the next morning.



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