Trump guilty, now what? Why the verdict isn't the most shocking part of the trial

The most shocking thing about the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president may not be the guilty verdict that a New York jury delivered Thursday afternoon.

It's this: It is possible, even probable, that one of the most momentous trials in American history won't end up affecting American history − at least not in time to reshape the presidential campaign in which Donald Trump is all−but-guaranteed to be the Republican nominee.

"Unprecedented" − admittedly an overworked word since Trump announced his first presidential campaign nine years ago − undeniably applies. The 45th president of the United States is now a convicted felon.

In a hushed courtroom, the jury foreperson read their unanimous conclusion.

Count 1: Guilty.

Count 2: Guilty.

Count 3: Guilty.

Count 4: Guilty.

Count 5: Guilty.

And so, it went through all 34 counts: Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Convicted of falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to a porn star, part of an effort to affect the outcome of the 2016 election. The jury of seven men and five women dismissed the protestations of innocence from a defendant who once lived in the White House and has a realistic possibility of moving back in.

Judge Juan Merchan set sentencing for July 11, four days before the Republican National Convention begins in Milwaukee. None of the other three criminal cases against Trump is likely to go to trial before the November election.

"The FIX was always in..." Trump's campaign manager, Chris LaCivita, posted instantly on the social-media platform known as X, formerly called Twitter. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, on the list of Trump's potential running mates, declared, "The verdict in New York is a complete travesty that makes a mockery of our system of justice," calling it "a political show trial."

A seething Trump, his face flushed, used the word "rigged" five times when he briefly addressed reporters outside the courtroom.

"This is far from over," he declared looking ahead to Election Day, now less than six months away. Calling it a "rigged, disgraceful trial," Trump said "the real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people who know what happened here."

He blamed, without evidence, that President Biden had orchestrated a politically motivated prosecution.

Trump announced his determination to appeal, a process that will have to unfold before he could conceivably be sent to jail or be fined.

Even so, the unanimous verdict by 12 citizens, a decision that took them less than 12 hours of deliberation to reach, surely carried a certain force. For Trump, the conviction immediately became his leading grievance. "I'm a political prisoner!" he declared on Truth Social, asking for campaign contributions.

For Biden, it just as quickly became a rallying cry.

"There's only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: At the ballot box," the president, who generally shied from commenting on the trial while it was going on, posted on X.

Biden coupled it with an appeal for campaign contributions, too.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why Trump's guilty verdict isn't the most shocking part of the trial