Key moments from Trump’s 40-minute rant over his guilty verdict

Speaking at Trump Tower, the former president claimed he was the victim of a conspiracy between the White House and Manhattan's district attorney
Speaking at Trump Tower, the former president claimed he was the victim of a conspiracy between the White House and Manhattan's district attorney - Julia Nikhinson/AP

Less than 24 hours after becoming the first US president to have been criminally convicted, Donald Trump spent some 40 minutes insulting the judge, attacking his rivals and making questionable claims about the trial.

Speaking at Trump Tower, the former president claimed he was the victim of a conspiracy between the White House and Manhattan’s district attorney. He had been unanimously convicted by a jury of 12 New Yorkers.

Trump exaggerated the length of a potential prison sentence by 183 years and overstated his campaign contributions since the verdict by more than $4 million.

He also spoke for the first time about his decision not to testify in his own defence – a question that experts say could have led to a perjury indictment. At other points, he launched into segues about electric cars and his poll numbers.

The Telegraph has rounded up some of the key moments from Trump’s landmark speech – and debunked some of his claims.

JOE BIDEN

Trump complained that the New York court was working in 'total conjunction with the justice department and the White House
Trump complained that the New York court was working in 'total conjunction with the justice department and the White House - Andrew Kelly/Getty Images

Trump claimed that Joe Biden, his rival in the presidential election in November, was behind his conviction in the “hush money” case.

Claiming that a “group of fascists” was running the country, he said: “This is all done by Biden and his people. Maybe his people more importantly, I don’t know if Biden knows too much about it. Because I don’t know if he knows about anything.”

Trump complained that the New York court was working in “total conjunction” with the justice department and the White House.

He went on to blame Mr Biden – “a man that can’t put two sentences together’ – for the gag order that stopped him attacking witnesses and jurors during the case.

The case against Trump was brought by Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, who has been elected and does not report to the federal government. Mr Biden – who has largely avoided commenting on the trial while it was underway – does not wield any authority over the district attorney.

TESTIFYING

Former US President Donald Trump attends his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City
'I wanted to testify. And the theory is you never testify,' he claimed - WIN MCNAMEE/AFP via Getty Images

Trump spent some time justifying why he did not give evidence in his criminal trial, having previously declared that he “absolutely” would.

“I wanted to testify. And the theory is you never testify,” he claimed. “Anybody – if you were George Washington don’t testify. Because they can get you on something that you said slightly wrong and then they sue you for perjury.”

He added: “You could go into every single thing that I ever did. Was he a good boy here, was he a bad boy there?”

Trump had a legal right to speak in his own defence at the criminal trial, something he was reminded of in court by the judge.

The prosecution would likely have questioned him if he had ever had an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels – something Trump has denied for years. Lying in court would have exposed him to a perjury indictment.

JUDGE JUAN MERCHAN

Trump said the judge 'looks like an angel but he's really a devil'
Trump said Justice Juan Merchan 'looks like an angel but he's really a devil' - Jane Rosenberg/Reuters

Trump has repeatedly attacked the judge as “highly conflicted” outside court, but on Friday he sharpened those attacks against Justice Juan Merchan.

“You saw what happened to some of the witnesses that were on our side, they were literally crucified by this judge – who looks like an angel but he’s really a devil,” he said.

“He looks so nice and soft. People say ‘Oh he seems like such a nice man’ – no, unless you saw him in action.”

Referring to Robert Costello, a defence witness, Trump said: “You saw that with a certain witness that went through hell.”

He added: “When we wanted to do things, he wouldn’t let us do those things. But when the government wanted something they got everything.”

ROBERT COSTELLO

Trump claimed that Mr Costello – one of the two witnesses that the defence called – had been “literally crucified” by Justice Merchan.

Mr Costello had grown frustrated as the prosecution issued objections while he gave evidence, and was eventually reprimanded by the judge.

He sighed as Justice Merchan sustained multiple objections, muttered “ridiculous” directly into the microphone, and at one point said: “Jeez.” The judge eventually ordered the court to be cleared to warn Mr Costello, who had attempted to stare him down, about his “contemptuous” behaviour.

“The judge was a tyrant and you got to see that with Bob Costello – a fine man,” Trump said.

“I’ve never seen anything like it… anybody that was in the media if you’re fair you’ll say wow that was anger, that was crazed. [Justice Merchan] was crazed.”

“The reason that Bob Costello acted a little bit upset, which I think he has a right to, was that every question he was being asked was being objected to by the other side.”

DEFENCE WITNESS

Trump claimed the trial was “very unfair” because “we weren’t allowed to use our election expert under any circumstances”.

He was referring to Bradley Smith, a former head of the Federal Election Commission, whom his defence had planned to call to speak about federal campaign finance law.

“We had the best expert, most respected expert, head of the Federal Election Commission, he was all set to testify, he was waiting for two days,” Trump said.

Justice Merchan said he would allow him to give evidence, but imposed limits on his testimony – saying it was not the job of a witness to interpret the law for a jury.

Mr Smith’s evidence would be restricted to “general definitions and terms”, such as what constitutes a contribution in campaign finance law, he ruled.

ALVIN BRAGG

Trump described Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan DA, as 'a failed DA'
Trump described Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan DA, as 'a failed DA' - Kena Betancur/Getty Images

After lashing out at Mr Biden and Justice Merchan, Trump turned his attention to Alvin Bragg – the Manhattan district attorney who brought the “hush money” case.

“We had a DA who was a failed DA. Crime is rampant in New York, violent crime – that’s what he’s really supposed to be looking at,” he said.

“Yesterday in McDonald’s you had a man hitting them up with machetes... who can imagine even a machete being wielded in a store, in a place where they’re eating.”

He has previously labelled the district attorney “Fat Alvin”. Mr Bragg refused to rule out seeking a prison sentence for the former president at a press conference on Thursday.

‘187 YEARS IN PRISON’

Trump claimed that he was “supposed to go to jail for 187 years” after being found guilty of falsifying hush money payments.

Trump is convicted of a Class E felony, which is punishable by up to four years in prison. He was convicted on 34 charges but these would run simultaneously, rather than being stacked on top of each other.

Experts believe it is unlikely that the former president will be sent to prison following his sentencing hearing in July, given that he is 77 years old and has never previously been criminally convicted.

John C Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School, told The Telegraph: “The betting is no jail time, but a high fine and a sentence to probationary conditions.”

‘UPSET’ WITH LAWYERS

Shining a light on private talks with his legal team, Trump said he was “very upset” with them because he did not know what he was being charged with.

“Even my own lawyers, I get very upset with them because they don’t say what it is,” he said.

“They say, ‘Well, falsification of business records is only a misdemeanour’… But they [prosecutors] try and bring it up to a felony if there’s new crimes.”

He added: “The other thing is they missed the statute of limitations by a lot. Because this is very old. They could have brought this seven years ago instead of bringing it right in the middle of an election.”

Mr Trump was charged with falsifying business records, which is normally classed as a Class A misdemeanour in New York.

However, prosecutors argued that there was a secondary crime – attempting to “corrupt” the result of the 2016 presidential election – which elevated it to a Class E felony. This also extended the statute of limitations.

$39 MILLION IN DONATIONS

Supporters across the street from Trump Tower before the former president made his address
Supporters across the street from Trump Tower before the former president made his address - KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

Towards the end of his speech, Trump repeatedly claimed to have raised a “record $39 million” after his guilty verdict from small-money donors.

“I like those people,” he said as the crowd at Trump Tower whooped and applauded.

The former president went on to claim that his “hush money” trial was backfiring, adding: “I want to win this thing legitimately not because they were stupid… they shouldn’t have brought this case.”

In fact, his campaign said on Thursday that it had raised $34.8 million after Trump was convicted, causing its fundraising platform to crash.

Advertisement