Former President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at...

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Friday, a day after a jury found him guilty of 34 felony charges. Credit: AP/Julia Nikhinson

Daily Point

Testing the strength of Trump’s convictions

Back in January Mazi Melesa Pilip, the Republican candidate in the special election for the 3rd Congressional District, said in a televised candidate forum that she wouldn’t support former President Donald Trump in November if he was convicted of a crime before then. It was a moment when her promising race started to unravel.

Pilip lost the special to Democrat Tom Suozzi. Had she won, and stuck to her guns, she’d be in quite the awkward position today. With Trump convicted on 34 New York State counts of falsifying business records — pending appeal — Long Island’s three GOP House members are alleging an unjust political prosecution, echoing the party line.

As of Friday afternoon, Suozzi did not issue a reaction to the verdict, while his GOP challenger Mike LiPetri tweeted: “Ridiculous! So, what’s next? The appeal and then a Republican victory in November!”

Reps. Andrew Garbarino, Anthony D’Esposito and Nick LaLota provided fuller variations of Trump’s rationale for the personal and legal pickle he’s in.

Garbarino: “Alvin Bragg has spent his time as DA letting violent criminals off the hook. Yet he used every tool at his disposal to prosecute a political opponent in the middle of the presidential election … This weaponization of our courts undermines faith in our criminal justice system and damages the integrity of our democratic process.”

D’Esposito: “The corrupt District Attorney of Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, and his left wing allies have completed their shameful witch hunt against President Trump by railroading a conviction through a partisan New York court in an attempt to help Joe Biden’s failing campaign.”

LaLota: “The best way to unwind Alvin Bragg’s political prosecution and today’s conviction is for Governor Hochul to immediately announce her intention to pardon President Trump and pre-emptively commute any sentence. To not do so is to allow America to become a banana republic.”

LaLota’s released statement and postings on X, formerly Twitter, brought sharp retorts from both Democrats vying for the nomination to face the first-term CD1 incumbent.

“Hey Nick,” candidate John Avlon posted on X. “A Banana Republic is when you want to pardon a criminal because they’re from your political party. A Banana Republic is when a candidate promises to pardon people who attacked the US Capitol on his behalf.

“The fact that a former president was convicted by a jury of his peers is a self-inflicted tragedy. It is also a triumph for the rule of law.”

Nancy Goroff, who is Avlon’s rival for the Democratic nomination, tweeted: “Shame on you Nick LaLota! Trump was convicted on all charges by a jury of his peers, in accordance with our justice system. Your statement shows once again that you are unfit for public office.”

That was the overall shape of the partisan back-and-forth in other districts as well. Both Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand essentially said that nobody is above the law and the verdict speaks for itself. Gillibrand’s GOP challenger Mike Sapraicone called Thursday a “shameful day in America” and that “millions of Americans who know the truth” will ensure Trump is elected.

All seem to have had an eye on how wise it is to push the Trump corruption angle, and how far, depending on the leaning of the district. Last week, the Siena-Newsday poll found Trump with a 43-40% lead on Long Island. That reflected the national polarization, with 71% of Democrats for Biden and 83% of Republicans for Trump.

As for how much Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts might move the polling needle, it may be marginal — but the whole presidential race may be won or lost on the margins. In Trump’s latest fundraising appeal he claims to be a “political prisoner.” He hasn’t spent a minute in prison, but that’s how he collects money from people, by posing as a victim.

And meanwhile, Marc Elias, a national Democratic Party elections lawyer, reopened an old grievance at the ever-aggrieved Trump: “A New York jury just affirmed what many of those of us who worked for Hillary Clinton in 2016 suspected — Donald Trump committed crimes to win that election.”

— Dan Janison dan.janison@newsday.com

Pencil Point

Drawing inspiration from the Trump verdict

Credit: CagleCartoons.com/Rick McKee

Credit: The Boston Globe/Christopher Weyant

Credit: CagleCartoons.com/Rick McKee

Credit: Patreon.com/jeffreykoterba/Jeff Koterba

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons

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