Sen. Mike Lee calls Trump's conviction a 'sad day for America'

Former President Donald Trump appears in Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday. A New York jury found Trump guilty on all 34 counts he faced of falsifying documents to cover up a payment to silence a porn star ahead of the 2016 election.

Former President Donald Trump appears in Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday. A New York jury found Trump guilty on all 34 counts he faced of falsifying documents to cover up a payment to silence a porn star ahead of the 2016 election. (Seth Wenig, Reuters)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Sen. Mike Lee wasted no time sharing his thoughts on former President Donald Trump's historic convictions Thursday, posting several times on social media just minutes after the guilty verdicts were announced.

Trump became the first U.S. president to be convicted of a crime on Thursday when a New York jury found him guilty of falsifying documents to cover up a payment to silence a porn star ahead of the 2016 election. After deliberations over two days, the 12-member jury announced it had found Trump guilty on all 34 counts he faced.

"A sad day for America. The verdict against Donald Trump, marred by unclear charges and irregular jury instructions, sets a dangerous precedent. This was a political prosecution to help Joe Biden, a weaponization of our justice system that threatens the very fabric of our Republic," Lee posted on his official page on X.

On Lee's personal page on X, he called the jury's conviction "very wrong" and posted, "Congratulations, progressives. You've just guaranteed Trump's election." He also called New York the "election interference state."

Rep. Burgess Owens took to social media shortly after Lee to say Thursday is a "dark day" for the country.

"The same Democrats who talk nonstop about 'defending democracy,' cheered as a political and biased judge trampled the rule of law to rush a conviction of their top political opponent, President Trump. This was a show trial from start to finish — and the American people know it," Owens said.

Thursday evening, Rep. Celeste Maloy in a statement said the justice system was weaponized to keep Trump off the ballot.

"This has been about politics, not law, from the beginning. I hope justice will prevail and voters won't be deprived of the right to vote for their nominee," she said.

Utah U.S. Senate candidate Brad Wilson also voiced his support for Trump, calling the trial a "sham" and a "mockery" of the justice system.

Trent Staggs, Riverton mayor and another U.S. Senate candidate, said the "manufactured conviction" was a ploy and is "the single most vivid example of election fraud in our country's history."

"Now, Americans know what actual insurrection looks like. Spare me the lectures on 'disagreeing better' while the left is prosecuting their political opponents," Staggs said.

In an email from his campaign, Trump said he was convicted in a "rigged political witch hunt trial" and asked for people to support him "at this dark hour."

Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson posted on social media, saying, "Praying for the safety of those jurors and their families."

The Biden-Harris campaign released a statement on the verdict, saying, "No one is above the law" and "the threat Trump poses to our democracy has never been greater."

"Donald Trump has always mistakenly believed he would never face consequences for breaking the law for his own personal gain. But today's verdict does not change the fact that the American people face a simple reality," the statement said.

The Biden-Harris statement continued to say convicted felon or not, Trump is still the Republican nominee, and encouraged everyone to go to the ballot box. The statement said Trump is running an "unhinged campaign of revenge and retribution" and claimed a second Trump term "means chaos, ripping away Americans' freedoms and fomenting political violence."

The Alliance for a Better Utah said Trump has "consistently shown a blatant disregard for the law and the truth, and a jury of his peers has held him accountable for his fraudulent behavior."

Alliance executive director Jeff Merchant said the verdict is a "significant development in a legal saga that does not end today but is only beginning."

"It is fair to ask candidates for higher office to hold themselves to the highest possible standards, not because, on occasion, they won't meet those standards, but because they recognize they should constantly and consistently try to meet them," Merchant's statement said.

"Donald Trump's belief that the law does not apply to him violates the very foundations of our legal system and the beliefs of the Founding Fathers. Indeed, the Founding Fathers created a democracy built on the rule of law, and today the rule of law prevailed," Merchant said.

Utah Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian King said the conviction reaffirms the importance of and demonstrates the validity of the judicial system.

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Cassidy Wixom covers Utah County communities and is the evening breaking news reporter for KSL.com.

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