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‘No one is above the law’: Virginia political leaders weigh in on Trump convictions

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Former president Donald Trump is now a convicted felon, after a Manhattan jury found Trump guilty on all 34 counts in his hush-money trial on Thursday.

Even Richard Nixon was able to escape the “convicted felon” label.

Let that sink in.

“The Trump verdict is proof that no one is above the law in this country,” said U.S. Sen Tim Kaine, D-Va., who ran for vice president on the ticket with Hillary Clinton, of “lock her up” fame, in the 2016 election cycle.

Trump, who took unusual glee in leading those “lock her up” chants at his campaign rallies back in 2016, faces up to four years in a New York state prison on each of the 34 convictions.

The next phase in his legal case is a July 11 sentencing hearing.

A week later, the Republican National Convention is scheduled to pick its presidential nominee, and assuming he doesn’t decide to drop out of the running, Trump is going to be the guy, as hard as that is to believe – that a major political party will be putting its nomination on a guy with 34 felony convictions on his criminal record.

Trump has been trying to cast the prosecution in this case, and two others – those others related to his theft of classified documents, and his efforts after the 2020 election to overturn the results so that he could remain in office, despite losing to Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes – as political persecution.

The message repeated over and over by Democrats in reaction to the verdict on Thursday followed along the lines of what Kaine had to say about no one being above the law.

“It is tragic that an American president has been convicted of crimes, but Donald Trump is responsible for his own actions,” Eighth District House Democrat Don Beyer said. “If a jury finds those actions were criminal after due process in a court of law, he must be held accountable. In the United States, no one is above the law.”

“It is a somber day when a former president is convicted of numerous felonies, but it also shows that no one is above the law,” said Bobby Scott, a Democrat who represents Virginia’s Third District in the U.S. House.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican who publicly flirted with the idea of challenging Trump for the Republican nomination, before his embarrassing losses in the 2023 Virginia General Assembly elections effectively ended his political career, offered up boilerplate from the GOP playbook on the verdict.

“The American people see this for what it is: a politically motivated prosecution orchestrated by those who want to ‘get’ President Trump. On Nov. 5th, Americans will render their verdict on Joe Biden’s failed leadership based on the issues that affect them every day,” Youngkin said.

Ninth District House Republican Morgan Griffith called the guilty verdict “a bad decision” based “in large measure” on unspecified trial errors by the judge presiding over the case, Juan Merchan.

“Based on what was presented, I do not see evidence of a crime taking place,” Griffith said.

Fifth District House Republican Bob Good, who two weeks ago stumped for Trump outside the Manhattan courthouse where the case was being tried, ahead of Trump repaying that favor by endorsing Good’s opponent in next month’s Republican primary, John McGuire, oddly still weighed in on the verdict in Trump’s favor.

“Today’s egregious verdict represents the most prominent miscarriage of ‘justice’ in modern American history,” Good said. “This corrupt sham of an NYC judicial system demonstrates the extreme danger of placing individuals in power who will abuse that power to accomplish a political objective. This is election interference at the highest level, and points directly to unlawful and unconstitutional collusion by Joe Biden and Merrick Garland. This obscene verdict will certainly be overturned on appeal, and that must happen expeditiously.”

Good, who Trump called, in his endorsement of McGuire, “bad for Virginia, bad for the USA,” has to know that neither Biden nor Garland, the U.S. attorney general, were involved in the trial, which involved state charges, and was prosecuted by a New York City-based district attorney, Alvin Bragg.

One would presume that Good would have to know that the next steps in the case can’t happen until after Judge Merchan issues his sentence in the case next month.

The expected appeals from Trump’s legal team can’t be filed until a sentence is handed down, which is to say, nothing will be happening “expeditiously.”

Trump will, in all likelihood, be running for president this summer and into the fall as a convicted felon, and if he were to win the November election, he would almost certainly be sworn in next January as a convicted felon.

Now, let that sink in.

“Americans put the reins of leadership in the hands of a person whose character is so far beneath the office that no rational adult would ever encourage young people to emulate his behavior,” Kaine said.

“Trump’s lack of character has caught up to him. And Americans, once again, have received a clear warning about a person who wants to seize leadership.

“I pray that we heed the warning.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].