For the first time in the history of the United States, a former US president has been convicted of a crime. It remains to be seen whether the historic verdict will harm Trump in the November election.

Judge Juan Merchan set the sentence for July 11. Trump faces a prison sentence of several years, which could also be suspended, or a fine. The Republican can appeal – and even if he is convicted, he can run in the presidential election in November.

The prosecution had accused Trump of trying to improve his chances of winning the 2016 presidential election by paying $130,000 in hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels and then illegally accounting for the flow of money. The seven men and five women on the jury had been listening to the testimony of more than 20 witnesses since mid-April – the jury’s deliberations had been underway since Wednesday.

Although the payment itself – which neither party disputed – was not illegal, the now 77-year-old is said to have manipulated documents when reimbursing the amount to his then personal lawyer Michael Cohen in order to conceal the true reason for the transaction. This made him guilty of 34 counts of illegal campaign financing. Trump’s lawyers had argued that these were ordinary legal fees.

The verdict is also likely to have an impact on the current election campaign in the United States – but the question is: how much and to whose advantage? Trump is trying to turn the case into a personal advantage and mobilize his supporters by portraying himself as the victim of a politically motivated justice system. However, many voters are likely to see the first criminal conviction of a former US president as a disgrace. Minutes after the guilty verdict, Trump said that the actual verdict would be handed down on the day of the presidential election.

Incumbent Joe Biden, on the other hand, who is seeking re-election in November, does not appear to have benefited noticeably from the trial against his challenger. The latest polls suggest that the verdict is unlikely to change many Americans’ voting decisions on November 5. However, the sentence could have an impact – especially in the rather unlikely event of a prison sentence.

The trial took place in downtown Manhattan amid unprecedented media interest and the strictest security measures. US media covered the event in Manhattan like a major sporting event and quoted from the courtroom, where no TV recordings were allowed, every minute. They also commented on every movement of Trump, who was always present at the hearings and actually only changed the color of his tie from day to day.

Trump regularly put on a grim face for the brief photo opportunity at the beginning of the session. Trump appeared to be following some of the witness interviews with interest; on other days, US media were certain that he kept his eyes closed for long periods because he had dozed off. He used the trial and the media hype to campaign, often giving angrily monologues in front of Courtroom 1530 about what he believed to be politically motivated proceedings. Trump also turned the trial into a test of loyalty for his Republican followers. In addition to the Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, candidates for the office of Vice President such as Senator J.D. Vance and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy also attended. Trump’s children Eric, Donald Junior and Tiffany were also in the courtroom. In addition to the absence of his daughter Ivanka, what was particularly noticeable was that his wife Melania Trump refused to publicly support her.

The prosecution portrayed the case, which actually essentially involved fake invoices and checks, as a “conspiracy” to illegally influence the 2016 US presidential election. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen and the editor of a tabloid newspaper, David Pecker, were allegedly tasked with investigating unfavorable rumors about Trump’s alleged affairs – and suppressing media reports about them – at a meeting with the then presidential candidate. This was intended to improve his chances in the election.

As a result of the meeting in Trump Tower, money was exchanged for the rights to several stories involving Trump’s extramarital sex. There was also a hush money payment to Daniels. State Attorney Joshua Steinglass said this “conspiracy” “could well have led to President Trump being elected.”

Trump’s defense, meanwhile, asserted his innocence and sowed doubts about the prosecution’s narrative. In doing so, they sharply attacked the credibility of key witness Cohen. The 57-year-old was also the prosecution’s biggest weak point – because of his long history of publicly spreading untruths and false statements. Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche called Cohen the “biggest liar of all time” in his closing argument. The prosecution, in turn, did everything it could to support the statements of its most important witness as much as possible with documents, checks, telephone data or other statements.

At the end of the trial, Judge Merchan caused a stir: He lost his temper when he felt his authority was being undermined by a witness for the defense who was close to Trump. Merchan had the room temporarily cleared and threatened to remove the man from the witness stand. Another highlight of the trial, which lasted about six weeks, was the testimony of porn star Daniels herself, who recounted in embarrassing detail the alleged sex with Trump – which did not make the former president look particularly good and, according to experts, could improve his chances of an appeal.