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How Trump world is reacting to the guilty verdict

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

It is a historic day. Former President Donald Trump has been found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records. It is the first time that a former president has been found guilty of a felony. Franco Ordoñez covers the former president for NPR and joins me now. Hey, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hey, Scott.

DETROW: Trump spoke in the hallway shortly after the verdict was read. How did he seem?

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, he had some very forceful words, but it wasn't delivered in a very forceful way. And anyone, you know, who listens to him regularly will find those words pretty familiar. I mean, he reiterated his innocence. He called the trial rigged and disgraceful. He said it will really be up to the voters on November 5 to truly judge him.

He then kind of pivoted to other issues that matter to him, like immigration and crime. And I'll just add that next up, of course, is the sentencing, which will come on July 11, which, again, is just days before the Republican Convention kicks off in Milwaukee, where he'll become the official nominee.

DETROW: Yeah. And it seems that there's no question about that based on the reaction from Trump's orbit and supporters echoing his comments. What did his allies say?

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, within minutes, if not even sooner, we heard from many of his allies really bashing the verdict. His senior adviser, Chris LaCivita, claimed, quote, "the fix was always in." You then - just minutes later, you had the campaign putting out graphics with Trump's image, saying, never surrender. They're sending out fundraising emails.

And many of his allies were also putting out messages. House Speaker Mike Johnson, you know, quickly called this a shameful day in American history. I mean, his allies have always reiterated that they would walk through broken glass to support him at the polls, and we do kind of expect that to remain the same. And they've really been preparing for this scenario for weeks - you know, really seeking to undermine and discredit this case.

DETROW: And we've seen Trump allies make their way up to New York day after day to stand behind him, often wearing Trump-style red ties to do so. How much - given that, how much does this verdict matter to Trump himself or to his supporters?

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, it is significant. I mean, they have been kind of laying the groundwork - you know, seeking, as we said, to kind of undermine this - painting the judge as biased, painting the jury as biased, preparing to kind of undermine what was to come out.

I mean, from a political perspective, though, I'm not so sure it's much of a game-changer. Certainly it's not in the view of Trump and his team, or at least that is the message that they're delivering. But the messaging that we see out of this is going to matter.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: This was done by the Biden administration in order to wound or hurt an opponent - a political opponent. And I think it's just a disgrace, and we'll keep fighting. We'll fight till the end, and we'll win because our country's gone to hell.

DETROW: And, of course, this is a state-level case. Biden had nothing to do with this case. Biden has made it clear he has nothing to do with the federal charges against him. And I think a good indication of Biden's control of the Justice Department is the fact that his son is facing a criminal trial as well. How has President Biden responded to this verdict?

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, we did hear briefly from the White House. Ian Sams - he's the White House counsel's office spokesperson - he said, quote, "we respect the rule of the law and have no additional comment." The campaign, though, was much more forceful. Their communications director, Michael Tyler, put out a statement saying that no one is above the law and said that Trump was wrong to think that he would never face consequences. He went on to reiterate the campaign message that Trump is a threat to democracy.

But he did agree with Trump on one thing, in that November 5 is truly the date that matters because this conviction doesn't change the fact that Trump will be the Republican nominee.

DETROW: NPR's Franco Ordoñez - thank you so much.

ORDOÑEZ: Thanks, Scott. 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.

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.