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    Democrats fear Trump verdict furor could lead to violence after election

    By Alexander Bolton,


    Senate Democrats fear former President Trump’s conviction on 34 felony charges could result in another spasm of violence after the 2024 election if Trump continues to decry what he calls the “weaponization” of the criminal justice system and then loses to President Biden in November.

    They’re voicing these fears amid growing anxiety that Trump’s criminal sentencing July 11 in the hush money trial will further roil the election landscape. Trump was found guilty of falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments to an adult film actor he allegedly had an affair with.

    Trump has repeatedly cast doubt about the fairness of the election, and Democratic lawmakers who followed his trial in New York worry he will use whatever sentence is handed down to further inflame his loyal supporters.

    “It is unclear, if [he] were to lose the election in November, whether he would peacefully tell his supporters, ‘Well, it was a great battle, but we just couldn’t pull it off,’” Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) said. “If you want to worry about hypotheticals.”

    “He’s not making the kinds of overtures to his constituencies that suggest he’s going to go gently into that good night,” he said.

    Hickenlooper said he assumes Trump will be able to delay the implementation of any sentence while he appeals the conviction to higher courts over the next several months.

    A Democratic senator who requested anonymity to comment about the jitters of fellow senators said political violence now looks inevitable.

    The lawmaker said Democrats fear Trump will incite his supporters to unrest regardless of whether he receives probation or a prison sentence.

    “For the long-term good of the country, he needs to be treated like anybody else, and then we’ll deal with it, because we’ll get his violence no matter what,” the senator said, noting that Trump supporters have already tried to “dox” jurors.

    “We’re going to have to deal with the violence, sooner or later,” the senator predicted.

    The senator pointed out that Trump repeatedly violated Judge Juan Merchan’s gag order and that the judge’s decision not to punish Trump with jail time for contempt of court only seemed to embolden the former president.

    “He’s got eight, 10 violations of contempt. He’s not had any remorse,” the senator said. “A normal person violating repeatedly an order would have been sitting in jail for a few days, and he wasn’t.”

    Trump has attacked Merchan as a “devil” and “highly conflicted” and slammed the Manhattan criminal court as a “kangaroo court” bent on derailing his presidential campaign.

    Some of Trump’s supporters have tried to reveal the identities and home addresses of the jurors who voted to convict him and posted violent rhetoric aimed at Merchan and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) online.

    Some of the threatening messages were posted on the same forums used by Trump supporters to organize their Jan. 6, 2021, march on Washington, according to NBC News.

    Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who faces a tough reelection race, warned “there certainly will be some people angry in Montana” if Trump is sentenced to prison or home confinement, even if he is expected to remain free during his appeal.

    Asked about the potential for political violence after the election, Tester noted “there’s two people in prison right now that threatened to kill me.”

    Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), who last week left the Democratic Party to become an independent, said any sentence given to Trump will further divide the country.

    “You can have a backlash in both, whether a blue state or a red state, too harsh or too lenient,” he said.

    Manchin said he’d accept the outcome, but that some in West Virginia could react differently.

    “My state is very supportive of former President Donald Trump, and they’re going to be upset if it’s a very harsh statement or a harsh sentence, and there’s going to be people in other states who are going to be upset if it’s lenient,” he said.

    Manchin said voters “should decide” Trump’s fate, and no attempt should be made to stop him from campaigning.

    Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) argued that Merchan needs to give Trump the same sentence he would any other person convicted of political crimes.

    “The idea that it is extraordinary to adhere to the basic principle that no one is above the law shows how far this man has tossed American principles overboard,” he said. “There’s nothing destabilizing about saying, ‘If you do something illegal, you are subject to punishment.”

    But Schatz said he’s also worried about the prospect of political violence if Trump loses the campaign, given how much he has revved up his supporters against what he says was political persecution.

    Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) said there could be a strong backlash if Trump gets a tough sentence in Manhattan.

    “Everything that has occurred with this former president is untoward. So we shall see. I think there will be concerns,” she said of a potential backlash. “But one thing is, in my view, the jury system worked.”

    Trump last week accused Biden of orchestrating his conviction, though there is no evidence to suggest involvement by Biden in Bragg’s decision to bring the hush money case against him.

    “This is all done by Biden and his people,” Trump said at a news conference after the jury handed down its verdict. “This is done by Washington. No one has ever seen anything like this.”

    Some of Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill have echoed his rhetoric, pointing to former Department of Justice (DOJ) official Matthew Colangelo’s role on Bragg’s prosecution team.

    National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Steve Daines (Mont.) called Colangelo’s involvement in the case a clear sign of political maneuvering behind the scenes to convict Trump.

    “We shouldn’t allow a kangaroo court in New York to be interfering with this election, as President Biden, his own former DOJ staffer is doing,” he said. “He left DOJ and then became a prosecutor in New York.

    “It seems very suspicious to me,” he added. “Joe Biden is involved in this as well.”

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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