Trump Bedeviled by Company's Conviction and Senate Candidate's Defeat




Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Delaware, Ohio, on Saturday, April 23, 2022.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Delaware, Ohio, on Saturday, April 23, 2022.  

Tuesday's conviction of the Trump Organization on charges of financial impropriety, coupled with the loss by former President Donald Trump's candidate in the Georgia Senate runoff, marked one of the worst days for Trump since he announced his presidential candidacy roughly three weeks ago.

First came the events in the city where he was born and raised.

In New York, the jury that heard the case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg deliberated over two days before returning guilty verdicts on all 17 counts related to a tax-fraud scheme, a sweeping condemnation of the company that bears Trump's name.

A lawyer for the company said officials will appeal the verdict, which was due in part to testimony from its longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to failing to pay taxes on company perks.

Trump said that he was "disappointed" with the verdict and pointed the finger at Weisselberg, suggesting he was a lone wolf. But in a morning post on his social media website, Truth Social, Trump had criticized the district attorney and accused him of running a "Witch Hunt for D.C. against 'Trump' over Fringe Benefits, something that in the history of our Country, has never been so tried in Court before."

In his statement after the trial ended, he wrote, "New York City is a hard place to be 'Trump,' as businesses and people flee our once Great City!"

The company will face a seven-figure fine, and the verdict could hinder its future endeavors. While convicting a company is not convicting a person - Trump himself was not charged in connection with the case - the taint of criminality is something that the former real estate developer and promoter has sought to avoid for decades.

Since the late 1970s, when the federal prosecutor in Brooklyn investigated Trump in a possible fraud case, he has succeeded in avoiding criminal charges. While Bragg chose not to pursue charges against Trump earlier this year, which prosecutors investigating the company had hoped to see happen, the criminal convictions represent a kind of defeat Trump has never faced.

On Tuesday night, as the trial's impact sank in, attention turned to Georgia. Herschel Walker, a former professional football player who was a member of the New Jersey Generals, a United States Football League team owned by Trump in the early 1980s, was waging an uphill battle in the state's Senate runoff against incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat. In the end, Warnock prevailed in a tight election.

Trump endorsed Walker early in the campaign, even as some Republicans in Washington were squeamish about a personal history that included allegations of abuse. Yet Trump was adamant that Walker would not face consequences with voters for his history, appearing to see the athlete as living proof that the ex-president himself, who survived one scandal after another, had changed the alchemy of campaigns.

But the runoff proved otherwise. The race was close run. Warnock won with overwhelming support from Black voters. Walker's defeat, even with Trump's history of calling any loss "rigged," will be hard to spin away.

Taken together, the two major political and legal losses on one day underscores the new reality Trump faces as he attempts a third national campaign.

He is not the favorite of most major donors anymore; that honor is currently bestowed on Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida. He is not the sole focus of conservative media; again, DeSantis is the heir. And a series of legal threats continue elsewhere.

© 2022 The New York Times Company

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