BYU students and alumni react to Trump’s conviction

Former President Trump appears in Manhattan criminal court during jury deliberations in the hush money criminal trial in New York, Thursday, May 30, 2024. BYU students and alumni shared their thoughts on the guilty verdict and what it means for the upcoming presidential election . (AP Photo)

Readers of The Daily Universe shared their thoughts on former President Donald Trump’s criminal conviction and how it affected their approach to the upcoming presidential election.

On May 30, Trump became the first former president in history to be convicted of a crime. Trump was found guilty of falsifying business records, which illegally influenced the 2016 election through hidden payments. The jury convicted him on all 34 counts.

Hayley Anderson, a recent BYU Minnesota graduate, said she was shocked by the verdict.

“I was hoping I could get a conviction, but I expected him to get out of it somehow,” Anderson said. “The most surprising thing for me was that he was found guilty of all 34 charges. I expected at least some of them to be thrown out, but the fact that the jury convicted him on all 34 is disturbing.”

Others, like recent Massachusetts graduate Bennett Graff, weren’t surprised by the process.

“It’s nice to see this conclusion reached by a jury of his peers and not just something that’s reported on the news, because it’s ridiculous to constantly have to deal with him and his base acting like everything he did was wrong , was just a matter of opinion or that his political opponents were out to get him,” Graff said. “I just want him to be held accountable.”

BYU graduate Sharon Christman Hodges shared her belief that the trial judge and district attorney had a political agenda.

“The judge donated to Biden. The judge’s daughter made a lot of money from her father’s trial. And the district attorney conducted his election after finding the charges indicting Trump,” Hodges said. “Political War”.

Utah law prohibits convicted felons from running for office. However, the United States Constitution does not contain similar provisions for presidential candidates. The partisan declaration of presidential candidacy only requires people to meet the listed requirements.

Mary Singer, a political science student from Connecticut, expressed her distaste for the legislation.

“I really hate that convicted felons are allowed to run for president. Felons are barred from voting in many states (including Trump’s home state of Florida), and felons are also barred from visiting a significant number of countries, including some major U.S. allies. “I personally do not support disenfranchising convicted felons, but I also believe they should not be allowed to serve as president or hold public office,” Singer said.

According to other students, the problem is not the Constitution itself, but the current state of American politics.

“The fact that the Constitution does not prohibit criminals from running for president does not bother me,” says Dr. Hab. said student Zacory Shakespeare. “The founders believed that people would not vote for a felon, so they did not feel it was necessary to create a law prohibiting it. “I think the fact that they got it wrong 200 years after the fact is a testament to how strange our current political situation is, not a failure on the part of the founders.”

Anderson explained that she believes the law creates a difficult situation.

“I tend to believe that being a felon should not automatically disqualify you from running for office,” Anderson said. “If a crime shows that a candidate would misbehave in office, he or she should be barred from running. … Trump’s actions reflect poorly on his priorities in office, his respect for the laws of the land, and his ability to lead the United States.”

Hodges also believes that the Constitution should not be changed, but for different reasons.

“The Founding Fathers were very wise and wrote the Constitution through divine providence,” Hodges said. “Maybe they didn’t mention a convicted felon running for president because one day there could be fraud and the weaponization of the Justice Department.”

When talking about how this belief will change voting preferences in the upcoming fall presidential elections, individuals expressed the opinion that they mostly remain the same.

“I did not vote for Trump in 2020 and I do not intend to do so in November. I consider him a threat to the rule of law,” Shakespeare said. “I don’t like Biden either, but I think democracy is safer with an octogenarian who has a significant risk of death while in office than with a man who has proven time and time again how much he despises democracy.”

Graff echoed a similar sentiment, sharing his distaste for both candidates.

“Frankly, I believe that both Biden and Trump are terribly morally bankrupt leaders, and if it weren’t for the immediate threat Trump poses to reproductive rights and a number of other incredibly urgent issues we face, I would vote for a third party,” Graff said.

Singer said she hoped the conviction would influence independent voters who are not committed to a single candidate but still fear about the future of American democracy.

“I am concerned about the precedent set by this convicted criminal’s election, especially how he and his supporters handled his conviction – ignoring the rule of law and calling it a violation of justice, losing support for the institution of democracy,” Singer said.

But for citizens like Hodges, the process has given more reasons to vote for Trump in the 2024 election.

“It makes more people like me want to vote for him because we see the political injustice he goes through,” Hodges said of the trial. “So he has my vote in November 2024.”