Trump, in post-conviction remarks, falsely claims 'trial was rigged'

Donald Trump held a press conference Friday morning, a day after he was found guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in his hush money trial – becoming the first president in history to be convicted of a crime.

"If they can do this to me, they can do this to anyone," Trump lamented from the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. "And these are bad people. These are in many cases, I believe, sick people."

In his disjointed remarks, Trump initially started attacking President Joe Biden on immigration and tax policies before pivoting to his case, growling that he was threatened with jail time if he violated a gag order. He picked apart intricate parts of the case and trial proceedings as unfair, making false statements and misrepresentations as he did so.

"It was a rigged trial," the former president and 2024 Republican nominee falsely claimed. "We wanted a venue change where we could have a fair trial. We didn't get it. We wanted a judge change, we wanted a judge that wasn't conflicted, and obviously he didn't do that."


Former U.S. President Donald Trump holds a press conference following the verdict in his hush-money trial at Trump Tower on May 31, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In addition to attacking Judge Juan Merchan, who presided over the case – and then saying that doing so would violate his own gag order from the court – Trump went after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. 

"Crime is rampant in New York," Trump said. "And Bragg is down watching a trial."

Trump also claimed, without proof, that Biden was behind the charges brought against Trump in New York. The hush money case was filed by local prosecutors in Manhattan who do not work for the Justice Department or any White House office.

The former president repeatedly insisted "there was no crime here." 

"Falsifying business … That's a bad thing for me. I've never had that before," Trump said during the press conference. 

RELATED: Biden on Trump conviction: 'The American system of justice works'

Trump could have testified in his own defense during the trial, but opted not to. Friday, he said, "I would have loved to have testified."

"To this day I would have liked to testify," he said. 

Regarding Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney and the prosecution's star witness, Trump said "he wasn't a fixer." Attacking Cohen tests the limits of Trump's gag order, which prevents him from publicly criticizing witnesses. Trump was held in contempt of court during his trial and fined $9,000 for violating the gag order on multiple occasions. 

"I never thought of him as a fixer. The media called him a fixer … he was a lawyer, and he was fairly good. Later on, I didn't like what he did," Trump said. 

His son Eric Trump and daughter-in-law Lara Trump joined him, but his wife, Melania Trump, who has been publicly silent since the verdict, was not seen.

On Friday morning, his campaign announced it had raised $34.8 million as donations poured in after the verdict. That's more than $1 million for each felony charge and more than his political operation raised in January and February combined.

Former President Donald Trump and his attorney Todd Blanche exit the courthouse and speak to media after Trump was found guilty following his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 30, 2024 in New York City.(Photo by Mark Peterson - Pool/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump and his attorney Todd Blanche exit the courthouse and speak to media after Trump was found guilty following his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 30, 2024 in New York City.(Photo by Mark Peterson - Pool

What's next?

Next comes the sentencing, which was scheduled for July 11 – just days before the Republican National Convention – as well as a lengthy appellate process. 

All the while, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee still has to deal with three more criminal cases and a campaign that could see him return to the White House.

The Manhattan jury spent more than nine hours deliberating before finding Trump guilty of falsifying business records in the case stemming from a hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign.

After the verdict was read, Trump angrily denounced the trial as a "disgrace," telling reporters he’s an "innocent man."

Will Donald Trump go to prison? 

The big question now is whether Trump could go to prison. The answer is uncertain, according to the Associated Press. 

Judge Merchan set sentencing for mid July, days before Republicans are formally set to nominate Trump for president.

The charge of falsifying business records is a Class E felony in New York, the lowest tier of felony charges in the state. It is punishable by up to four years in prison, though the punishment would ultimately be up to the judge, and there’s no guarantee he would give Trump time behind bars. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg declined to say whether prosecutors would seek prison time.

It’s unclear to what extent the judge may factor in the political and logistical complexities of jailing a former president who is running to reclaim the White House. 

Other punishments could include a fine or probation. And it’s possible the judge would allow Trump to avoid serving any punishment until after he exhausts his appeals.

Trump faces the threat of more serious prison time in the three other cases he’s facing, but those cases have gotten bogged down by appeals and other legal fights, so it remains unclear whether any of them will go to trial before the November election.

Can Trump still be president? What his conviction means for the election

The conviction doesn’t bar Trump from continuing his campaign or becoming president. The Constitution only states that presidential candidates must be at least 35 years old, be "natural born" citizens and have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

There are no restrictions based on a criminal record.

He can also still vote for himself in his home state of Florida as long as he stays out of prison in New York state.

Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who serves as co-chair of the Republican National Committee, said in a FOX News Channel interview on Thursday that Trump would do virtual rallies and campaign events if he’s convicted and sentenced to home confinement.

In a deeply divided America, it’s unclear whether Trump’s once-unimaginable criminal conviction will have any impact at all on the election.

Leading strategists in both parties believe that Trump still remains well-positioned to defeat President Joe Biden, even as the Republican now faces the prospect of a prison sentence and three separate criminal cases still outstanding.

In the short term, at least, there were immediate signs that the guilty verdict was helping to unify the Republican Party’s disparate factions as GOP officials across the political spectrum rallied behind their presumptive presidential nominee and his campaign reported a flood of fundraising dollars within hours of the verdict.

There has been some polling conducted on the prospect of a guilty verdict, although such hypothetical scenarios are notoriously difficult to predict. A recent ABC News/Ipsos poll found that only 4% of Trump’s supporters said they would withdraw their backing if he’s convicted of a felony, though another 16% said they would reconsider it.

Ron DeSantis, other politicians react

The Biden-Harris campaign has released a statement on the verdict, saying in part: "In New York today, we saw that no one is above the law." A White House Counsel’s Office spokesperson said "We respect the rule of law, and have no additional comment," per Ian Sams.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wrote, "Today’s verdict represents the culmination of a legal process that has been bent to the political will of the actors involved: a leftist prosecutor, a partisan judge and a jury reflective of one of the most liberal enclaves in America — all in an effort to ‘get’ Donald Trump."

Donald Trump Jr. took to X to rip his father's guilty verdict in the New York trial, slamming the decision in a series of posts.

"Such bullsh--t," Trump Jr. said in one post.

Eric Trump, the former president's other son, wrote "May 30th, 2024 might be remembered as the day Donald J. Trump won the 2024 Presidential Election."

RELATED: Politicians react after Trump guilty verdict in hush money trial

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who served as the prosecution's key witness in the New York trial, struck a celebratory tone on social media following the verdict.

"Guilty On All Counts! #TeamCohen," Cohen said on X.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who has long had a tense relationship with Trump but recently endorsed his 2024 campaign, refrained from attacking the judge or jury. But he said the charges "never should have been brought in the first place."

"I expect the conviction to be overturned on appeal," McConnell said in a post on X.

Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock wrote "No one is above the law — including Donald Trump."

What’s next for Trump? The avenues for appeal

After Trump is sentenced, he can challenge his conviction in a New York appellate court and possibly the state’s highest court. Trump’s lawyers have already been laying the groundwork for appeals with objections to the charges and rulings at trial.

The defense has accused the judge of bias, citing his daughter’s work heading a firm whose clients have included Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other Democrats. The judge refused the defense’s request to remove himself from the case, saying he was certain of his "ability to be fair and impartial."

Trump’s lawyers may also raise on appeal the judge’s ruling limiting the testimony of a potential defense expert witness. The defense wanted to call Bradley Smith, who served on the Federal Election Commission, to rebut the prosecution’s contention that the hush money payments amounted to campaign finance violations.

But the defense ended up not having him testify after the judge ruled he could give general background on the FEC but couldn’t interpret how federal campaign finance laws apply to the facts of Trump’s case or opine on whether Trump’s alleged actions violate those laws. There are often guardrails around expert testimony on legal matters, on the basis that it’s up to a judge — not an expert hired by one side or the other — to instruct jurors on applicable laws.

The defense may also argue that jurors were improperly allowed to hear sometimes graphic testimony from Daniels about her alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump, which he denies ever happened. The defense unsuccessfully pushed for a mistrial over the tawdry details prosecutors elicited from Daniels. 

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche argued Daniels’ description of a power imbalance with the older, taller Trump, was a "dog whistle for rape," irrelevant to the charges at hand, and "the kind of testimony that makes it impossible to come back from."

The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this report.