Kentucky politicians react to Trump guilty verdict

Published 9:21 pm Thursday, May 30, 2024

After two days of deliberation, a Manhattan jury on Thursday evening found former President Donald Trump guilty on 34 felony counts. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee in this year’s presidential election, was indicted for falsifying business records related to a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in the lead up to the 2016 election.

Members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation were quick to respond. Most Republicans were on the same page, calling the trial politically motivated and unfair.

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr immediately released a statement.

“A corrupt New York district attorney pursued this conviction through a sham trial of President Trump, marked by outrageous and unconstitutional tactics,” Barr wrote.

“It won’t stop me and millions of Americans from acquitting the president of these politically motivated charges and sending him back to the White House in November. After four years of record high inflation, open borders, and foreign policy disasters, Joe Biden has another five months before he will be sentenced to permanent retirement by the American people.”

But Kentucky State Sen. Whitney Westerfield said he was “disappointed” in Barr’s statement.

“The courts function as they should, and a jury decided the outcome, for better or worse. We absolutely cannot risk further eroding confidence in our justice system,” he said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Fellow Republican Kentucky State Sen. Damon Thayer, the majority floor leader, objected to Westerfield’s commentary. He said the trial had a biased judge and seemed “fixed” from the beginning, consequently causing a “serious injury” to the judicial system.

“I think most people, except for extreme Democrat partisans, can see it,” Thayer said. “And I think people will look at it and say if it can happen to a former president of the United States, it could happen to me.”

While Thayer isn’t necessarily a fan of Trump’s personal life or style, he said this won’t impact his choice to vote for him in November against what he sees as a “complete failure” of a Biden administration.

“Look back at how better America was during (Trump’s) administration,” he said. “Balance that against how bad things are under Joe Biden, and they’re going to look at this ridiculous trial by a bunch of partisans in New York, and I think that’s going to be the tipping point, and I think he’s going to win.”

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie posted his response on social media.

“Guilty on 34 counts, but no underlying crime,” he wrote. “Partisan hacks serving as judges, investigators, and prosecutors have turned our legal system into a farce at both the state and federal level.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in Thursday night.

“These charges never should have been brought in the first place,” he said. “I expect the conviction to be overturned on appeal.”

Fellow U.S. Senator Rand Paul said it was a “sad day for America.”

“How long can our Republic survive once partisans have taken over the judicial process? This verdict will tragically undermine Americans’ confidence in impartial justice,” he wrote.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Morgan McGarvey later posted a statement.

“A New York jury has spoken; Donald Trump is the first former president to be convicted of a felony (34 to be exact),” he wrote.

“In America, no one is above the law. Donald Trump is now a convicted felon. He is also the presumptive Republican nominee for president and he is unfit to serve in any public office, especially president of the United States.”

U.S. Rep Hal Rogers called the trial an “outrage” and “political travesty” that he expects to be reversed on appeal in a post.

“It is a weaponization of the courts for political gain,” Rogers wrote. “Biden forces claim victory, but it will backfire & elect Trump. They claim they won this battle, but we will win the war.”

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie said the trial was an “outlandish abuse” of the justice system.

“This kangaroo court is an insult to the American justice system and to the very foundation of our constitutional democracy,” he wrote.

Kentucky Republican Attorney General Russell Coleman echoed Trump’s post-verdict comments in a social media post.

“It’s politics – not the law – behind New York’s prosecution of President Trump,” he said. “The American people want to focus on the issues that matter and will render their own verdict on November 5th.”

Most Democratic state legislators refrained from directly commenting on the verdict.

An exception was Rep. Daniel Grossberg, D-Louisville.

Friday morning, he posted a warning for his followers on X, saying that Trump’s base will still show up to the polls for him.

He expounded on his point in an interview.

“There are just as many votes for Trump today as there were yesterday and the day before,” Grossberg said. “The only question is how many Biden voters show up and vote on Election Day? So we should not think that the results of the trial have changed any minds, but perhaps it’s changed some motivation.”

He added that he doesn’t understand how the trial could be considered unfair. Trump had an equal opportunity to testify, enter evidence that would have exonerated him and strike jurors, he said.

“It took place in a venue where he lost the majority of the votes, and that is a claim that they’ve made,” Grossberg said. “But that’s not a legal claim for what makes a fair trial or makes an unfair trial—that you are politically popular or unpopular in a place.”

Senate Minority Floor Leader Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, said in a statement that the conviction proves that “no one is above the law” in America.

“The jury finding the former President guilty on 34 felony charges is a significant moment, showing the strength of our democracy and the importance of accountability,” Neal said.

“Let us take this time to reflect. We must stay committed to justice, equality, and the rule of law as the pillars that protect and strengthen our democracy.”

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has not commented.