West Virginia politicians comment on Trump conviction

MORGANTOWN – Reaction among West Virginia politicians to the New York City conviction of former President Trump on 34 felony counts not unsurprisingly aligns with their party affiliations.

Here’s a look at the reactions and a look at the case that prompted them.

Delegate Mike Pushkin, chair of the West Virginia Democratic Party: “Dems did not convict Trump. Biden did not convict Trump. He was convicted by a jury of his peers who heard the evidence, deliberated, and reached that conclusion unanimously. We should be proud to live in a nation of laws, not men, not despots. This is what makes America great.”

The WV Federation of Democratic Women: “Thank you to the 12 jurors who diligently served and followed the evidence where it led to 34 guilty verdicts while under extreme pressure.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito: “The case against President Trump was politically motivated from the start. Americans deserve to have their voices heard through the ballot box, not expressed through a rogue prosecutor. I fully expect this will be overturned.”

Rep. Alex Mooney: “The only person cheering today is communist sympathizer George Soros whose biased New York District Attorney brought these very old charges against President Trump in a heavily Democrat area. President Joe Biden’s endless spending policies are fueling record inflation and hurting American families. I am certain Trump will appeal this verdict and will prevail in the end. He retains my full support and the support of most Americans.”

Rep. Carol Miller: “This is a sad day for the United States. This verdict is clearly politically motivated, and it’s terrible that politics has corrupted our justice system. When President Trump is reelected in November with Republican majorities in the House and Senate we will ensure that people are punished for committing crimes and not because of their politics.”

Gov. Jim Justice: “What is happening in America? The guilty verdict against President Donald Trump is a deeply troubling and a politicized decision that undermines the principles of justice. The witch hunt against President Trump continues today.

“President Trump has always put America First and fought for the values that make our nation great. He and the entire Trump family are champions for America. I will always treasure my friendship with Donald J. Trump and the Trump family and never waiver in my support. We must do all we can to help re-elect President Trump in November.”

State GOP chair Matt Herridge: Biden and the Democrats tried to take trump off campaign trail. “Democrats don’t think that Joe Biden can win at the ballot box.” Do they resorted to lawfare and sham show trials. “I hope that we turn this travesty into a massive fundraising week for the Trump campaign.”

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey: “This isn’t justice. It’s a political persecution at the highest level. The entire process has been tainted by improper, political, motives.”

Treasurer Riley Moore (GOP nominee to succeed Mooney in Congress): “This verdict is a disgrace. A sad day for our country. But President Trump will emerge from this stronger and he WILL win in November.”

Sen. Mike Stuart (former state GOP chair and former U.S. attorney under Trump): Biden’s lawfare and weaponization of our justice system against political opponents is now complete. It’s truly disgusting and demoralizing that politics, not justice, is the basis for today’s orchestrated witch hunt. They are destroying a nation for pure political power.”

The case

Not every Republican who decried the case and its outcome is a Trump fan or thinks he remotely approximates a saint. National Review columnist Jim Geraghty describes him this way: “Trump is a boor, a creep, a pathological liar, a rage-aholic, a guy who watched television while an angry mob that he ginned up chanted ‘Hang Mike Pence.’ His mind has all the stability of a Jenga Tower made of Jello in the back of a pickup truck with a blown suspension, driving over the San Andreas Fault.”

He said this while the National Review editors described the case this way: “In a case that will eventually be remembered as a textbook instance of selective prosecution, the Manhattan district attorney breathed life into an alleged bookkeeping misdemeanor that the statute of limitations had expired on and, Merlin-like, transformed it into 34 felonies.”

We summarize the case issues from various media sources ranging politically from left to right.

Trump had a one-night-stand with porn star Stormy Daniels while his wife – future First Lady Melania Turmp – was pregnant with their son, Barron. He had his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pay Daniels $130,000 to keep mum on the affair leading into the 2016 election.

Trump was charged with falsifying business records in a conspiracy with Cohen and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker hide the tryst. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had to convince the jurors that the falsified business records concealed an underlying crime of attempting to defraud voters by not properly recording the payments to Daniels and other women as campaign finance spending, but as an ongoing legal fee.

People who find fault with the case point out several problems. Falsifying business records in New York is a misdemeanor and generally charged as a secondary offense, but Bragg questionably elevated it to a felony by alleging the underlying campaign-finance crime, they say.

They say Bragg also questionably skirted the statute of limitations by discounting Trump’s time out of state and in the president’s office. And Bragg wrongly violated the U.S. Constitution by prosecuting federal election law – which falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice.

Critics note that Bragg came into the case biased, having campaigned for his office on the promise of prosecuting Trump. He is quoted saying, “I have investigated Trump and his children and held them accountable for their misconduct with the Trump Foundation. I also sued the Trump administration more than 100 times for the travel ban, the separation of children from their families at the border. So I know that work. I know how to follow the facts and hold people in power accountable.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is not a Trump fan, having voted to convict him in the Jan. 6 impeachment case. But she sides with those alleging Bragg’s preexisting bias. “The district attorney, who campaigned on a promise to prosecute Donald Trump, brought these charges precisely because of who the defendant was rather than because of any specified criminal conduct.”

And Trump’s Vice President, Mike Pence, who has said he won’t endorse Trump, said of the case, “No one is above the law, but our courts must not become a tool to be used against political opponents. To millions of Americans, this was nothing more than a political prosecution driven by a Manhattan DA who ran for office on a pledge to indict the former president and this conviction undermines confidence in our system of justice.”

Critics also complain that while Bragg chose to elevate a minor misdemeanor to prosecute Trump, he also chooses to reduce violent felonies, such as robbery with a deadly weapon, to misdemeanor secondary offenses if no one gets seriously injured.

Critics also allege that Judge Juan Merchan had the fix in for Trump. They point out several issues.

One, in 2020, Merchan gave $15 to the Biden campaign and $10 each to two progressive Democratic causes. But people familiar with New York state judicial conduct rules say that while this appears to be a violation, it’s so minor it doesn’t merit Merchan’s recusal.

They also consider Merchan guilty by association because his daughter, Loren Merchan, leads Democratic fundraising firm Authentic Campaigns, which has worked for Biden and for Rep. Adam Schiff, who led impeachment efforts against Trump.

And they allege that Merchan gave jurors confusing instructions that didn’t require unanimous votes to convict. But a readout of the instructions shows that they had to be unanimous on each of the 34 counts, but not necessarily on which of three underlying crimes he committed for each count.

Trump will be sentenced on July 11, four days before the GOP National Convention. He has already said he will appeal his conviction, but it’s not yet clear how long that process might take and how many lower courts it might go through before reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.

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