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Trump conviction may make a difference among swing voters

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Former President Trump has been found guilty of falsifying business records to influence the 2016 election. This is the first time a former or sitting U.S. president has been convicted on criminal charges. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg spoke of the unanimous verdict, thanking the jury.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALVIN BRAGG: And while this defendant may be unlike any other in American history, we arrived at this trial and ultimately today at this verdict in the same manner as every other case that comes through the courtroom doors.

CHANG: NPR's Ximena Bustillo has been at court today and has been covering this trial from the very start. She joined us from outside the courthouse.

XIMENA BUSTILLO, BYLINE: Well, the courthouse has seen a slow gathering of people on all sides of this issue. Currently, we are next to a few counter-protesters or protesters that seem to be cheering the result of the verdict. Down the street, we see some other protesters that seem to be in disapproval of the decision that the 12 jurors came to.

CHANG: And let's talk a little bit about those jurors. What can you tell us about them? Like, what has this process been like for them over the weeks?

BUSTILLO: So - yeah, so these 12 New York jurors, like Bragg just discussed in the press conference, you know, they are your average New Yorkers. They have varying views on Trump themselves. During the selection process, they were asked about their opinions and their feelings of Trump, about their news consumption habits, what they consider as news, where they get that from, various habits on that.

But ultimately, privacy was very important when it came to these jurors. So up until now, they have not been able to talk about this case. Of course, this is the case with other juries. But we have also not known their names. We have not known much except very basic descriptions about them. The judge really prioritized their anonymity and had really tight rules on even what the press could do and where we could even move in the building while the jury was there in order to protect their identities. But they are some of the few who really had this close and intimate experience with the former president and, you know, current GOP front-runner for the 2024 election.

Trump has had three other juries here in New York. And throughout jury selection and even the verdict, you know, Trump would look at the jurors, watch them as they described their personal lives, their feelings of him and then eventually watch them as they gave their conviction.

CHANG: Well, I'm curious 'cause you were in the courtroom - right, Ximena? - when the verdict was being read out loud. Former President Trump is, of course, the presumptive GOP nominee. And as this verdict - guilty on all 34 counts, just the word guilty being sounded out 34 times - how did Trump react to that in real time?

BUSTILLO: You know - yeah, he was, for a moment, not very reactive. He sat there with his hands slumped to his side. He wasn't speaking to his lawyers as the verdict counts were being read one by one and only turned to look at the jury after, when each one was needing to confirm the decision. Then afterwards, he came out into the hall, and he continued to call the trial a disgrace. And that's something that he's been doing every single day of this trial.

CHANG: And how has the trial affected his presidential campaign? - because, you know, we've heard him often say that being in court each day has taken him away from the campaign trail.

BUSTILLO: Right. He has often called this trial election interference, lamenting that it's cut away from his time to campaign for that 2024 election, but has also made use of it. He's brought several GOP leaders into court. You know, even today, I saw North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum walking around.

CHANG: That is NPR's Ximena Bustillo. Thank you, Ximena. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.