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Why Donald Trump’s Conviction Mattered

Recently you might have heard that Donald Trump became a convicted felon, found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records, which is (definitely) not good for his electoral chances. But it is also likely that if you are a person with a normal life and an average interest in politics, the trial has been little more than background noise for the last month and a half. So now that he’s a legally-culpable criminal, it’s nice to add that to the reasons not to vote for him, but it doesn’t make it any easier to explain to a tuned-out friend or stubborn family member why it matters. That’s no problem; I’m here to help.

First, I am not a lawyer and that’s part of the reason this explanation is going to be light on the legal side of things. This is a layperson’s view meant for other people who are not lawyers. I’m just a voter who generally thinks convicted criminals shouldn’t have unfettered access to nuclear weapons, especially ones who actively lied to the government to hide illegal influence campaigns designed to interfere with elections. You know, like Donald Trump.

Hidden in many of the discussions about Trump’s conviction is what he actually did that was so bad. Republicans, predictably, have said that it wasn’t a crime at all. Democrats have been nervous to even delve into the basis of the charges. But it’s actually pretty straightforward. In 2016, Donald Trump, private citizen and businessperson, used his private assets to suppress information that could make him look bad to voters. He then did a lot of work to hide that he used his business to influence the campaign for President of the United States, mostly by reimbursing his “fixer” lawyer for buying up negative stories from a woman he absolutely had an adulterous and coerced sexual encounter with, especially around the time that Hillary Clinton noticed that he was actually terrible to women in general and was trying to make it an issue for voters. 

In October 2016 (if you can remember through the trauma blackout that usually covers that year), a recording came out that had Donald Trump explicitly (in all senses) talking about assaulting women, and a lot of his Republican backers displayed courage that they would subsequently abandon forever by denouncing this violent and criminal behavior. Around the same time, a woman who had been subjected to Donald Trump’s notion of “seduction” (sexual assault) thought about coming forward with her story of deeply uncomfortable sex with the presidential candidate. As a sex worker and adult film star, Stormy Daniels would have left a likely catastrophic impression with her story on the heels of the Access Hollywood tape, made worse by the timing of the encounter: just months after Melania Trump gave birth to their son, Barron, in 2006. So Donald Trump decided to stifle the story, convincing Michael Cohen to give Daniels $130K to stay quiet and then reimbursing Cohen for the money with sloppy invoices.

Nearly three dozen times after the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump faked invoices, created receipts, and moved around private assets to continuously lie to voters and the state of New York. He repeatedly used his business to protect his presidential campaign, despite the fact that doing so is very illegal! It is so illegal that Michael Cohen served prison time for carrying out the orders that Donald Trump used his illegal payments to hide! For all the noise around the “novelty” of the Manhattan DA’s approach or the “unfairness” of the prosecution, it is only because Trump won that he wasn’t found out and convicted of this crime sooner.

But more than that, Trump’s actions were a basic violation of public service. Donald Trump repeatedly misled us — as voters, as citizens — about the vile and terrible actions he committed, some of which were blatantly illegal. He used his private business as both a piggybank for his criminal activities and a shield against state intervention to stop him. He has consistently hired people with weak or non-existent moral compasses to commit illegal or immoral actions on his behalf, only to dispose of them once they serve his purpose. And now that a court of law and a jury of his peers have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s time for us to take this offense against us as seriously as they did. Donald Trump committed crimes to protect his campaign in 2016; let’s not ignore his guilt in 2024.

Kaitlin Byrd
Kaitlin Byrd
Knows too much, thinks even more. Has infinite space in her heart for tea and breakfast for dinner. Really from New York, so always ready to cut a bitch.