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Donald Trump is a convicted felon. In his former home state of New York, on trial by a jury of his peers, the former President was found guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records, becoming the first ever President — and the first ever current presidential candidate — to be convicted of a felony under the law.

Just over a year ago, New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced the indictment. Trump, he alleged, had engaged in a ‘catch and kill’ scheme in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election: identifying, purchasing and burying negative stories about him that may have harmed his chances of victory.

One of those negative stories was the news that Trump had engaged in sexual intercourse with the porn star Stormy Daniels. Had this information come out, Trump — a married man — would have been the center of a high-profile sex scandal in the middle of the campaign. And so Trump sought to catch and kill the story before it went public, tasking his former lawyer and all-round fixer Michael Cohen with paying Daniels USD $130,000 – a ‘hush money’ payment that would silence the story.

Though frowned upon, hush money payments are not illegal in the US. But Trump’s fatal mistake was to disguise the payment as something else. In 34 separate transactions, Trump hid evidence of the payment, separating it into parts in Cohen’s invoices to him, and in other checks, stubs and voucher entries in Trump’s business ledgers.

This action — falsifying business records — was the essence of the crime.

Generally, falsifying internal business records is just a misdemeanour offence in New York, and not even a crime at all in many other states. For the offence to constitute a felony, District Attorney Bragg had to prove that Trump falsified the business records in furtherance of committing another crime — in this case, covering up a sex scandal to improperly influence the 2016 presidential election.

The jury agreed.

Over several weeks the jury heard salacious and combative evidence about sex, politics and dodgy business dealings. According to those in the room, they were particularly attentive and focused. Then, after two days of deliberation, their verdict was unanimous: Trump was guilty of all counts.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of four years in prison. But it is highly unlikely the former President will ever spend a day locked up. As an elderly man with no priors, Trump is unlikely to be sent to prison, particularly in a state with somewhat progressive sentencing laws. Indeed, it may be months or years before Trump serves any punishment, as he is certain to appeal as many times as he can.

The biggest story that will flow from this verdict is not the sentence, then, but rather a political question: how will it affect Trump’s chances of winning the 2024 election?

It’s anyone’s guess.

Donald Trump is already a history-defying president. Four separate criminal indictments, including in three far more serious cases than this one, have had no effect on his polling numbers. Leaked tapes describing sexual mistreatment of women, openly racist and bigoted remarks against minority populations, a history of dodgy business dealings — none of these prevented Trump from winning in 2016.

It’s entirely possible that today’s conviction will have precisely the same effect. Trump thrives when depicting himself and his candidacy with an ‘us against the world’ narrative. A New York jury and a New York judge who has donated to Democratic causes may prove the perfect foils. In the eyes of many voters, this merely proves his persecution.

Though maybe the convictions will matter. Joe Biden doesn’t need everyone to change their mind. Only a very small percentage of voters, in a very small number of states, need to change their mind — as it currently is — for Biden to win a second term. Are there enough moderate, swing voters, so appalled by voting for a convicted felon, in a way that they weren’t when considering voting for a candidate under criminal indictment, that they will switch to Biden or stay home? Maybe.

Biden and the Democrats will unite in their push to portray Trump as the convicted felon, entirely unfit for office. Trump and the Republicans will unite in their push to portray the conviction as the same old witch hunt. One will prove more effective than the other — it’s just impossible to know which.