Trump is a convicted felon - and to his supporters a political martyr

Donald Trump was convicted on Thursday of all 34 counts in his hush money trial, becoming the first ex-American president in history to be convicted of felony crimes. Credit: AP

We have seen many remarkable images of Donald Trump over the years.

But never one as bizarre and incongruent as this: the former President on Fifth Avenue on Thursday night pumping the air with his fists and waving to New Yorkers.

It was as if he has secured a major victory.

In fact, Trump had just been found guilty of 34 felonies by a jury of his peers. The brutal fact for the history books is inescapably damning: He has become the first ex-American president to be convicted of a crime.

He emerged from the courtroom declaring his innocence, insisting that the real verdict will come on election day, November 5.

But for Trump to win the presidency from this position would be an astonishing development. He must hope that centrist and independent voters share his view that this was a rigged trial and that it was weaponised by the Biden White House.

ITV News' Correspondent Robert Moore breaks the historic verdict in New York

Certainly, millions of his core supporters will buy this argument. Trump is already fundraising using the conviction as a way of generating outrage towards Democrats and dollars for his campaign, proudly calling himself a "political prisoner".

Republican allies are overwhelmingly supporting Trump. Senator Tim Scott, a prominent vice presidential hopeful, last night accused the Biden administration of "hunting" Republicans. Such language is deeply ominous, with its hint of violence.

On the streets outside the courthouse, Trump loyalists told me that this was the Deep State at work. "After Trump, they are coming for us," several told me.

Across the road, anti-Trump activists were celebrating, calling this belated accountability and justice. But no one thinks this is the end of the former President.

Trump will be sentenced on July 11, just four days before the Republican National Convention opens in Milwaukee, when he will be crowned as the presidential nominee.

In a divided nation facing a presidential election, this will be a long, hot, tumultuous political summer.

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