Former President Trump’s New York Trial Results

What does former President Trump’s recent legal outcome mean for the rule of law and the coming election? 

PRAY FIRST for Americans across the nation to seek God’s guidance in understanding the law and how to vote in the coming months.

“For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” – Luke 8:17

What Happened?

On Thursday, May 30th, a New York jury issued a unanimous verdict on a case involving former President Donald Trump. The jury found him guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records, attempting to cover up negative press, and an unlawful payment.     

The official sentencing hearing is set for July 11th at 10 am. New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan, the judge presiding over the case, said he is not interested in jail time as a sentence and acknowledged the gravity of this verdict, “You are the former president of the United States and possibly the next president, as well.”  


New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg filed the indictment, and the case went to court before a jury all while the nation prepares for an upcoming and expected divisive presidential election. The case and timing have exacerbated the polarizing differences across the country. 

Presidents throughout history have been surrounded by controversies and legal strife, but legal accountability varied. 

President Richard Nixon, on the brink of impeachment, resigned, and received a blanket pardon from successor Gerald Ford, which prevented any subsequent indictment for his role in the Watergate scandal. Forty federal officials, including administration staff and the attorney general, were indicted, but Nixon escaped any prosecution due to the pardon. 

President Bill Clinton was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice for his testimony regarding his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinski but was acquitted by the Senate. He was fined for false testimony in the Paula Jones case. President George W. Bush had allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses stemming from Operation Iraqi Freedom. President Barack Obama also was fined by the Federal Election Commission for campaign reporting violations.

Due to the complicated legal methodology required to bring political actions to trial, it is rare for politicians to face legal consequences for their choices while in office. President Trump’s case is unique because it involved mundane financial paperwork rather than political misconduct. In addition to this case, President Trump has faced several state cases saying he is ineligible to run for office due to his pending cases regarding the handling of classified documents and alleged 2020 election interference. This is the first time in U.S. history that a sitting or former president has been convicted of a felony or that a president has been criminally convicted after leaving office. 

The Rule of the Law  

President Trump faced 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, which is a felony in New York. Prosecutors dug into payments made by the former president’s then-attorney, Michael Cohen, to Stephanie Gregory Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) before the 2016 election in exchange for her to remain silent about her and the former president’s affair. The charges were not directly related to that action but focused on the paperwork generated when Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment. 

Article 175 of New York’s penal code identifies the falsification of business records as a felony. This law states that it is a felony if there is any intent to misrepresent, omit, erase, or destroy business expense records. The law also states that no one can try to mask the intent of the expenses.  

Each of the 34 charges corresponded to a specific check, invoice, and voucher generated to reimburse Cohen for payments and how they were billed, accusing the former president of acting in a way that knowingly misrepresented them. 

President Trump’s legal team stated that the business records were correct and that the former president had not attempted to hide or cover up the real intent of the payments. “Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer … from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA,” the former president said previously, “With respect to the Stormy nonsense, it is very old and happened a long time ago.”

The jury reviewed the evidence of invoices, vouchers, checks, phone logs, audio recordings, text messages, and the testimony of 22 witnesses. They determined that President Trump had been involved in intentionally falsified business records and deliberately tried to cover up the true intent of the expense and was therefore guilty on all 34 counts.

President Joe Biden said following the verdict, “Our justice system has endured for nearly 250 years, and it literally is the cornerstone of America.” The president added, “It’s reckless, it’s dangerous, it’s irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don’t like the verdict.” The president highlighted the importance of the appeal process by saying that President Trump “will be given the opportunity, as he should, to appeal that decision, just like everyone else has that opportunity.” 

President Trump confirmed that he and his team plan to appeal the case, saying, “We’ll keep fighting.” 

The Road Ahead

Following the verdict, leaders from around the country commented on the importance of this coming election, and many highlighted the division ripping at the heart of the nation. At political campaign rallies around the nation, the words “save and protect our democracy and our constitution” are used by both parties as fuel for their platforms. Republicans say that President Biden will be the downfall of America. Democrats say that if President Trump is elected, he will destroy the nation. Both sides paint the other as a villain, a strategy as old as time. 

While the United States has a history of name-calling and attack ads, and while candidates often use information against each other to paint the other in a poor light, this marks the first time that both a former president and a major candidate has been convicted in court while running for president. Ultimately, many experts believe the conviction will have little impact on voters’ opinions. This is why all sides are urging Americans to get involved and to vote.  

President Biden called on Americans to vote, stating that real justice happens “at the ballot box.”  

President Trump echoed this sentiment stating, “The real verdict is going to be November 5 by the people.” 

The Christian Response

In 1972, theologian Billy Graham gave a speech in which he stated “The ballot box is one of the greatest weapons. It can be a deterrent to war, an instrument of peace, and a means of continued prosperity.” He urged Christians especially to exercise their right to vote—even if they are disillusioned with politics, stating that “a vote withheld is a vote against Christ.” 

A fuller context of his words is that God cares about everything that affects our lives, which includes who our leaders will be and how our society will be governed. That is one reason why He commanded us to pray for our government and its leaders. 

We will have to evaluate the choice ahead and make the best one that we can in the upcoming election. This is why prayer is so critical as we near election day. We must pray for humble hearts to hear the truth, to be open to the truth, and to accept the truth that is shown to us. We must also pray that our nation will turn to God and that we may experience a true spiritual revival. Increasingly, we seem to be pushing God out of our lives as a nation—and this will continue to have tragic consequences. 

While those around the nation wrestle with the emotions from last week’s verdict, our hope must remain in God alone. In divided and unprecedented times, on dark and difficult roads, and in times of favor and blessing, we must remember that God is in control and His hands are on our nation. Nothing that happens is beyond His reach or understanding. 

As Christians, we must remember our calling to pray. As 1 Timothy 2:1-2 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” And in response to those we don’t agree with and to those who seek to do us harm, Jesus commanded, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). 


— Pray for God to continually bring to light all things that are done in the darkness and make His perfect truth known. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible. – Ephesians 5:13
— Pray that Americans across our nation would seek God’s guidance in how they prepare to vote in the upcoming presidential election. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. – 1 John 5:14


  • Pray for the judges and justices in the federal court system to seek God’s will as they rule on cases with such critical outcomes.
  • Pray that all leaders in our government would seek to act in morally and ethically upright ways.
  • Pray for the families of politicians as they, too, must face the outcomes of the political decisions made by those in office.
  • Pray for all citizens to seek civil discourse in the heat of political division.

Sources:, White House, Politico, AP News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, Business Insider, The Hill, New York Time, Washington Examiner, Washington Times, NPR, Just Security


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