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MSU Billings professor analyzes potential effects of Trump trial

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Posted at 11:56 PM, May 30, 2024

BILLINGS - Jurors delivered the verdict in the state of New York case against former President Donald Trump on Thursday afternoon.

“It's the first time for a former president,” said Dr. Paul Pope, MSU Billings professor of political science.

Pope says the 34 guilty verdicts will not affect Donald Trump's opportunity to be a presidential candidate.

“There's nothing in the Constitution that says a convicted felon or even somebody serving jail time could not be elected president or even just run for president,” Pope said. “There's nothing so it doesn't matter in terms of his eligibility.”

Attorneys following the case say the prosecution was able to tell a consistent story and that was important considering the evidence.

“They knew that they didn't always have perfect evidence, but every moment they tried to say we're backing it up,” said Jessia Levinson, CBS News legal contributor.

Levinson, who is also a Loyola Law School professor, says there will be questions about how the case was charged.

“This is a state case dealing with a federal candidate and it was a fairly novel application of a New York election law,” Levinson said.

Each felony charge carries a $5,000 fine and four years in prison and there is a question if the former president will be incarcerated.

“We really won't know until the sentencing,” said Rebecca Roiphe, CBS News legal contributor, New York Law School professor, and former Manhattan assistant district attorney. “I think that, you know, he's certainly not going to jail for the rest of his life on these counts. But there is a real possibility of some jail time.”

The sentencing is scheduled for July 11th 4 days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

“I doubt the Republican National Convention is going to make any big changes mostly because Donald Trump controls the Republican Party so much,” Pope said.

Pope says he does not expect a change for strong supporters and opponents of the former president and a minimal impact for those who have not decided.

“Trump in 2020 did very well in Montana,” Pope said. “Montana tends to lean pretty conservative. I don't know that there will be a huge shift.”