Republican Jewish Coalition defends Donald Trump after he is convicted on 34 felony counts
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media after leaving court following his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 30, 2024, in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig-Pool/Getty Images

By Ron Kampeas
May 31, 2024

(JTA) — The Republican Jewish Coalition leapt to the defense of Donald Trump after he was found guilty on 34 charges related to falsifying records to conceal that he paid an adult film star to cover up a sexual liaison just before the 2016 presidential election.

The verdict makes Trump, who is seeking to return to office this fall, the only U.S. president ever to have been convicted of a felony.

“Without question this is a political prosecution of a political opponent,” Matt Brooks, the group’s CEO, said after jurors in Manhattan delivered the historic verdict following a day and a half of deliberation on Thursday.

“It’s a weaponization of the legal system,” said Brooks. “The case is deeply flawed and will likely be overturned on appeal. The Democrats think this will hurt Trump, the reality is that it will likely propel Trump to victory in November.”

Speaking outside the Manhattan courthouse where his trial unfolded over several weeks, Trump blamed Jewish billionaire George Soros, invoking a trope that Jewish organizations have denounced as leading to antisemitic violence.

Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, said the real verdict would come on Nov. 5, Election Day.

Voters “know what happened here and everybody knows what happened here,” said Trump, who is the presumptive Republican candidate for president. “You have a Soros-backed D.A. and the whole thing, I didn’t do anything wrong, I am a very innocent man.”

The connection between Soros, a liberal megadonor, and Alvin Bragg, the prosecutor, is tenuous. Soros, long an advocate for criminal justice reform to reduce incarceration rates, has donated money to Color of Change, which helps campaign for liberal prosecutors. He gave to the organization years before it backed Bragg when he ran for office in 2021.

Trump invoked Soros when he was indicted in March 2023 and has repeatedly done so in fundraising appeals since launching his bid to wrest back the presidency from President Joe Biden.

Jewish organizations have said that making Soros, a Holocaust survivor, the mastermind of trends conservatives regard as sinister is dangerous. Baseless conspiracies tied to Soros helped inspire the deadly 2018 attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue and attempted pipe bomb attacks on Jewish figures, including Soros, during Trump’s presidential term.

“It’s wholly unsurprising that Trump is already invoking antisemitic, racist and bigoted tropes to further sow distrust in our justice system and our democratic institutions, like he’s done all along,” said Amy Spitalnick, the CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, in a text message. “We should understand this as intended to undercut our democracy and fuel political violence, as we’ve seen over and over again.”

The RCJ’s counterpart among Democrats, the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said the verdict and Trump’s remarks afterwards demonstrated “the threat Trump poses”  to democracy.

“Trump continued to fuel the fire of antisemitic conspiracy theories by blaming the ‘Soros-backed’ district attorney for leading the case,” JDCA said. “Less than an hour after the jury returned its verdict, Trump was spewing hate and blaming Jews.”

Sentencing is set for July 11. Trump has said he will appeal.

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  1. RB

    Written by a Trump hater, obviously. Jewish people in the USA should vote for Donald Trump.

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