Trump and MAGA Republicans lose their minds over hush money jury instructions

Donald Trump and his fellow Maga Republicans reacted hysterically over jury instructions in the former president’s hush money trial, spreading misinformation about the process and branding it a “sham.”

Mr Trump took to Truth Social after he sat and listened to the instructions being read to the jury by Judge Juan Merchan and posted false claims about what had been said.

“IT IS RIDICULOUS, UNCONSTITUTIONAL, AND UNAMERICAN that the highly Conflicted, Radical Left Judge is not requiring a unanimous decision on the fake charges against me brought by Soros backed D.A. Alvin Bragg,” Mr Trump wrote on Truth Social shortly after 1.30pm on Wednesday after jury deliberations began. “A THIRD WORLD ELECTION INTERFERENCE HOAX!”

Mr Trump faces 34 counts of having falsified business records to cover up a hush money payment issued to adult actor Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election to keep her quiet regarding a 2006 affair, which Mr Trump says never happened. The prosecution has argued that the falsifying of business records was done in furtherance of another crime, namely election subversion as Mr Trump supposedly acted to keep negative information from voters.

A jury of seven men and five women began deliberating the first-ever criminal case of an American president shortly before 11:30am on Wednesday.

Jurors must determine that Manhattan prosecutors have proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Donald Trump falsified business records with the intent to commit or conceal a conspiracy to unlawfully influence the 2016 presidential election.

But all 12 jurors must be unanimous in delivering a guilty or not guilty verdict.

In order to find him guilty, the jury must agree that Mr Trump “personally or by acting in concert with a person or other persons, made or contributed to false invoices” and did so with the intent to defraud, and that he conspired to influence the election by “unlawful means.”

Donald Trump walks toward the press to speak after the 12 jurors in his criminal trial began deliberating at Manhattan Criminal Court on 29 May (EPA)
Donald Trump walks toward the press to speak after the 12 jurors in his criminal trial began deliberating at Manhattan Criminal Court on 29 May (EPA)

“The unlawful means” includes violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act, the falsification of other business records, and violations of state and federal tax laws.

In his jury instructions, Judge Merchan wrote to the jury that “Your verdict, on each count you consider, whether guilty or not guilty, must be unanimous. In order to find the defendant guilty, however, you need not be unanimous on whether the defendant committed the crime personally, or by acting in concert with another, or both.”

He added: “Although you must conclude unanimously that the defendant conspired to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means, you need not be unanimous as to what those unlawful means were.”

This means that jurors do have to be unanimous that Trump falsified records as part of that election conspiracy by using unlawful means, but not what those means were.

Mr Trump’s legal team agreed with this version of events.

This didn’t stop a rightwing meltdown over the jury instructions, led by Mr Trump and quickly followed by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who wrote on X: “Judge in Trump case in NYC just told jury they don’t have to unanimously agree on which crime was committed as long as they all at least pick one. And that among the crimes the can pick from are ones Trump WASN’T EVEN CHARGED WITH!!! This is exactly the kind of sham trial used against political opponents of the regime in the old Soviet Union.”

John Roberts of Fox News wrote that “Judge Merchan just told the jury that they do not need unanimity to convict. Four could agree on one crime, four on a different one, and the other four on another. He said he would treat 4-4-4 as a unanimous verdict.”

Attorney Bradley Moss responded: “People keep harping on this but are missing the context. They have to be unanimous that Trump falsified the records and did so with the intent to commit another crime. They do not have to be unanimous on what the other crime was: that’s the rule under NY law.”

“John. Retire. You just butchered this,” broadcaster Keith Olbermann said.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem wrote on X that “Judge Merchan’s jury instructions are a direct violation of Richardson v. US, a decision that LIBERAL Justice Breyer wrote and CONSERVATIVE justices like Scalia and Thomas agreed with. Totally RIGGED trial!”

Mr Moss was quick to call this claim another “red herring.”

He added: “Richardson dealt with a specific FEDERAL statute. Not a state crime.”