Democrats Have Muted Reaction To Trump’s Guilty Verdict

While Republicans blasted the guilty verdict in Donald Trump’s hush money coverup trial as a “weaponization of the justice system,” Democrats had a much more cautious response to the first criminal conviction of a former president.

Many Democrats seemed to be wary of coming off as gloating in the wake of Trump’s conviction on 34 counts of falsifying business records — so they either said nothing or released short statements calling Thursday a sad day for the country.

“We respect the rule of law, and have no additional comment,” White House spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement.

President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign said “no one is above the law,” adding the verdict doesn’t change the fact that Trump can only really be beaten at the ballot box.

“Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president,” Biden-Harris spokesman Michael Tyler said.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), meanwhile, called it a “shameful day in American history” and said “Democrats cheered as they convicted the leader of the opposing party on ridiculous charges.”

His counterpart in the House, Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), said simply that the jury has spoken and that responsible leadership “requires the verdict to be respected.”

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the verdict a “somber” moment for America.

“Trial by a jury of peers is a fundamental principle of democracy, which must be respected,” Pelosi said on social media.

Pelosi’s tone recalls how, in 2019, after she banged the gavel on the first article of impeachment against Trump, the then-speaker used a slicing hand gesture and death stare to stop her Democratic colleagues from clapping.

It makes sense why Democrats, who face tough odds of keeping control of the Senate and the White House in November, are trying to stay low-key: Trump’s legal problems are not likely to sway most independents one way or the other. And if progressives try to fundraise off the verdict or make it the outcome of the trial itself a big campaign issue, that might validate Johnson’s accusation that Democrats were cheering for Trump’s conviction all along.

“What is the point of crowing?” one Democratic aide said of Trump’s guilty verdict. “As an important fact, it makes its own point.”

Besides, this person aide said, the election is five months away and Trump will remain a convicted felon the entire time, so it’s not necessary rush out a message about it.

Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and John Tester of Montana, the two most vulnerable Senate Democrats, hadn’t said anything as of Thursday night — something that was noted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is fighting to elect Republicans to their seats.

“Democrats know they can’t beat President Trump at the ballot box so they’re trying to put him behind bars before the election — and Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown are letting it happen because they’re too scared to stand up to their own party. Tester and Brown should do the right thing and immediately rescind their endorsements of Joe Biden as he turns the country into a banana republic,” NRSC spokesman Philip Letsou said.

Still, some Democrats put out forceful statements denouncing Trump, like progressive leader Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who lauded the jury and said no one is above the law.

“Trump is now a convicted felon and he remains an existential threat to our democracy,” Jayapal said online.

Another Democrat who cheered the news: Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). He made a TikTok of himself dancing and sent out a fundraising appeal alongside a celebratory message: “BONG! Today, our justice system beat Donald Trump!”

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