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Trump repeats claims — without evidence — that his trial was rigged

Former U.S. President Donald Trump holds a press conference following the verdict in his hush-money trial at Trump Tower on May 31, 2024 in New York City.
Spencer Platt
Getty Images
Former U.S. President Donald Trump holds a press conference following the verdict in his hush-money trial at Trump Tower on May 31, 2024 in New York City.

Updated May 31, 2024 at 14:00 PM ET

The day after being convicted of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, former President Donald Trump delivered remarks at Trump Tower maintaining his innocence.

He repeated several false claims about his criminal trial and complained about a gag order he continues to be under. In addition, he said he had wanted to testify in his defense but was advised against it.

Trump’s remarks were a hybrid of self-defense regarding his guilty verdict and presidential campaign offense. Several times, he slammed the court and President Joe Biden at the same time, seeking to falsely connect the two.

“They are in total conjunction with the White House and the DOJ,” Trump said of the court. “Just so you understand, this is all done by Biden and his people.”

There’s no evidence to support the claim. The case against Trump was brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and prosecuted under New York state law, meaning the case was unconnected to the White House or DOJ.

Trump also repeated his claim that the judge in the case, Juan Merchan, was “highly conflicted.” There is no evidence of this.

And he complained about the fact that he didn’t testify in the case.

“I would have testified. I wanted to testify,” he said. “The theory is you never testify because as soon as you testify — anybody, if it were George Washington, don't testify because they'll get you on something that you said slightly wrong, and then they sue you for perjury.”

Trump’s remarks also veered into an array of other topics, like complaints about allegations made against him in 2022 by the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

And he also for a time went into stump-speech mode, repeating his usual anti-immigration rhetoric, saying that American schools are full of people speaking “languages that we haven’t even heard of.”

His remarks, from the atrium of the Trump Tower, came a day after he became the first president — former or sitting — to be found guilty of a crime. Still, legal experts have told NPR that it’s unlikely Trump will face incarceration.

If Trump doesn't serve prison time for the New York conviction, he's likely to be able to cast a ballot this fall.

A small gathering of supporters cheered intermittently during Trump’s speech. The night before, a crowd gathered on the street outside of Trump Tower after the verdict, chanting, "New York hates you."

After Trump's remarks, President Biden spoke about the verdict for the first since Trump's conviction.

“The American principle that no one is above the law was reaffirmed,” he told reporters at the White House.

He noted that it was as state not a federal trial, and said that the system worked as it was supposed to. Trump, he said, has the right to appeal. “That’s how the American system of justice works,” he said.

He then forcefully blasted Trump's criticism of the case.

"It's reckless, it's dangerous, it's irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged, just because they don't like the verdict," he said.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Danielle Kurtzleben is a political correspondent assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. She appears on NPR shows, writes for the web, and is a regular on The NPR Politics Podcast. She is covering the 2020 presidential election, with particular focuses on on economic policy and gender politics.