What it was like inside the courtroom when Donald Trump was found guilty of 34 felonies


Before the historic and unprecedented guilty verdict was delivered against Donald Trump on Thursday afternoon, the former president appeared to be the most relaxed he’d been since his hush money trial began in April.

Trump was smiling and laughing with his attorney, Todd Blanche, as they waited for Judge Juan Merchan to announce the jury was heading home for the day.


With Trump and prosecutors assembled, Merchan returned to the bench at 4:13 p.m. ET to let the parties know that he planned to send the jury home for the day in about 15 minutes. The judge left the courtroom, and Trump, his lawyers and the prosecutors remained behind to wait for the end of the day.

But everything changed when the judge re-entered the courtroom at 4:36 p.m. with a stunning note: The jury had reached a verdict.

The jury needed 30 minutes to fill out the forms, leaving Trump and the attorneys sitting in the courtroom until the judge and jury returned. They mostly sat still while waiting, occasionally making small talk amongst themselves.

When the judge returned to the bench, he warned the parties and the audience against “reactions” or “outbursts of any kind” before the jury entered.

The six alternates entered and sat in the first row of the gallery, behind prosecutors. The 12 jurors took their seats in the jury box. A clerk prompted the jury foreman with each of the 34 counts. He answered “guilty” 34 times.

The attorneys were silent and serious as the verdict was read. Only the sound of feverish typing could be heard from the galley filled with press and several members of the public as the foreman delivered Trump’s fate.

Reporters could not initially see Trump’s facial reaction when the first guilty verdict was read – the courthouse had the video screen off while the foreman read most of the verdict, as the court turned off video whenever jurors were moving.

Only toward the end of the verdict reading did the video of the defendant’s table get turned back on, letting the reporters behind Trump in the courtroom and those in the overflow room see the former president.

Trump sat stone-faced, with a frown, not visibly reacting to the jury as they finished reading the verdict. The jurors were polled one-by-one to confirm this was their verdict, and Trump turned and craned his neck to the right to look at the jurors.

Jurors kept serious faces as they were polled one by one to confirm this was in fact their verdict. They each answered “yes” or “yes it is.”

They walked past the defense to exit the courtroom. None of the 12 panelists appeared to look in Trump’s direction on their way out.

Trump’s face was red and he was frowning as he walked out of the courtroom. Trump and his son Eric exchanged an emotional handshake as Trump departed, as Eric patted his father on the back and followed behind him with the rest of Trump’s entourage or advisors and lawyers. Steve Witkoff was the only apparent supporting guest aside from Trump’s son in attendance when the verdict was read.



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