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Reaction mixed across the North Country to Donald Trump’s felony convictions

Donald Trump campaigning in Plattsburgh, NY in 2016.
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Donald Trump campaigning in Plattsburgh, NY in 2016.

On Thursday former President Donald Trump was found guilty on all 34 felony counts brought against him in his hush money case. Reaction in New York’s North Country is mixed and appears to follow individual political persuasions.

A day after being convicted, Trump predictably maintained his innocence Friday morning and attacked the court.

“This is a scam. This is a rigged trial," Trump said. "It shouldn’t have been in that venue. We shouldn’t have had that judge.”

At one of Plattsburgh’s dog parks, Gene Grafals, who said he’s not registered under any party, said he was happy to see the jury convict the former president.

“I come home. I flip the TV on and I go oh found guilty. I thought this was great! A good ending to the day," Grafals recalls. "We’re going in a positive direction now. He needs to be scrutinized. He’s gotten away with so much over the years. This opens one door which opens another door where the charges are more serious and the penalties are more severe for the things he’s done in the past. So slowly it’s catching up to him.”

The Clinton County New York Republican Committee issued a statement on its Facebook page, warning “If these types of partisan games can be played with a former President, then just think what can happen to every day citizens if the justice system goes unchecked.” Chair Jerika Manning says the jury had to interpret the evidence based on how the judge conducted the trial.

“I know that the opinion of many legal professionals is that the trial was not conducted in a way that is consistent with the Constitution," Manning said. "The crimes were not indicated in the opening statements. They were hardly indicated in the closing statements. And so I wouldn’t criticize necessarily the jury but the judge and the way that he conducted that trial.”

Manning adds the feedback she has been receiving leads her to believe that Trump will gain more voter support than anticipated in the wake of the verdict.

“Residents of Clinton County is who I’ve been hearing from and their feeling is that a mockery was made of due process and the concept of equal justice," said Manning. "And I think that even people who don’t care necessarily for President Trump’s personality or his politics I think that everyone questioned the impartiality of the justice system in this case in particular.”

Democrat-Progressive David Zuckerman is Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor and is running for re-election. He admits he reacted to the verdict in part based on his political views.

“I was pretty pleased. But frankly it shouldn’t matter what one’s political views are," Zuckerman asserts. "It should be more about the justice and the law and that no one’s above the law. And I think there’s plenty of folks that believe that those people with money often get away with far more things in our judicial system. And so in this case that wasn’t the outcome. And to me I think that’s reflective that maybe folks can start to believe in our judicial system again.”

Trump will be sentenced on July 11th.