Anger, relief and denial: Brooklynites react to Trump’s hush-money conviction

Trump speaking outside Trump Tower
FILE – Former President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump Tower the day after his conviction.
AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson

A Manhattan jury’s decision to convict former president Donald Trump in his hush-money case sent shockwaves through the U.S. on May 30 — but for the embattled pol’s longtime supporters in southern Brooklyn, not much has changed.

Brooklyn is, for the most part, overwhelmingly Democratic – Kings County has more than a million registered Democrat voters, more than any other county in New York State, and just over 141,000 registered Republicans.

But some neighborhoods lean heavily red, and many residents there voted for Trump in the 2020 election. That year, the former president earned the majority of votes in neighborhoods like Bay Ridge, Gravesend, Borough Park, and Sheepshead Bay — the same neighborhoods where Republicans toppled longtime Democratic Assembly Members in 2022. 

voters in 2020 election
Two southern Brooklynites at a poll site in 2020. Trump clinched several southern Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Bay Ridge in 2020. File photo by Paul Frangipane

The day after Trump was found guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records, his southern Brooklyn supporters were unphased.

“It’s a scam, it’s an unjust verdict,” said Harry, a Gravesend resident who — like many people interviewed by Brooklyn Paper on Friday — asked to be identified by first name only.

‘Nobody is that bad’

Harry doubted that Trump was truly guilty on all 34 counts, and said that usually on a large-scale indictment, the person will be found not guilty on at least some charges. 

“Come on, nobody is that bad,” he said.

Jacqueline, a Trump supporter who lives in Bensonhurst and works in Borough Park, felt similarly. 

“For me, to tell you the truth, my opinion is people will do anything to win,” she told Brooklyn Paper.

She feels the legal system in the U.S. is “messed up,” and that Democrats who don’t want Trump in office would try “everything and anything” to stop him from winning the election this November.  

“I hope he wins the election,” she said. “I want to see changes … this president, for me, he’s fast asleep and I don’t know when he’s going to wake up.”

Borough Park resident Sammy felt that the four criminal cases against Trump — including the hush-money case — were all part of a larger scheme against the former president. Democrats were hoping all four cases would go to trial before November, he said, creating a barrier for Trump’s re-election.

ultra maga trump sign
Gravesend residents signaled their support for the former president on May 31. Photo by Adam Daly

But the conviction didn’t change his mind at all. 

“It’s not even a crime,” Sammy said of the president’s conviction of falsifying business records to cover up a sex scandal with porn star Stormy Daniels. “First of all, he didn’t know about it. He’s a very big huge rich man. He has a lot of workers, he didn’t even know what they put in the report.”

Sammy also took issue with the bombshell testimony by Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen.

“Why would he say the truth this time if he lied all the time until now?” he asked.

Barbara, a Borough Park resident and Trump supporter in her 50s, said the former president’s critics are “trying to put a layer of negativity on him” — but that thousands of people, like herself, see through that negativity.  Trump spoke on behalf of Americans like herself, Barbara said, who didn’t have a voice themselves. 

“He was like a psychic, he could see things before it was happening and he was trying to protect us,” she said. “He was like the mother and father of America, now we have nobody to complain to. We’re orphans without him.”

Harry also plans to vote for Trump this year — just like he did in 2016 and 2020. He said he used to like President Joe Biden, he said, but now feels he’s too old for another term.

“I like him because he’s a businessman, he’s not a politician,” he said. “He knows what’s good for the country, he understands business. And he creates jobs.”

Some southern Brooklyn Democrats feel like ‘fish out of water’

But for the Democrats in southern Brooklyn, Trump’s business experience is one of many turn-offs.

“Biden is OK. He’s not the greatest, either. But I’d rather have him than this guy,” said Gricely, a Democratic voter in Gravesend. “I’d rather choose him, he knows more about politics, what needs to be done to this country, than a businessman that filed for bankruptcy how many times. You want someone like that running the country?”

Gricely — like many southern Brooklynites, no matter their party — is worried about how the election will play out come November.

“This is gonna be one hell of an election,” she said. “If people don’t go out there and vote, we’re going to have a lot of problems. He might even get elected. We might have a criminal as a president, I’m sorry to say.”

Her fellow Biden supporter, Linda Diosso, said she was “pleasantly surprised” there wasn’t a “full-scale riot” after the verdict was announced.

“I’m very concerned that when he loses, it will be a repetition of last time, and he’ll say again it was rigged, and he’ll try to overturn it, and his crazy followers will riot again, it’s going to be horrible,” she said.

Trump in courthouse
Former President Donald Trump walks to make comments to members of the media after being found guilty on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree at Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday, May 30. AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool

Diosso, an Upper West Side native who moved to southern Brooklyn with her family more than 30 years ago, said she feels like a political fish out of water in the nabe. She wasn’t surprised when Trump won the neighborhood in 2020.

The Democrat said she “has to” believe that Biden will clinch the November election. 

“I have to have faith that they’ll pull it together,” she said. 

Barbara, who called Trump the “mother and father of America,” said she worries about the fallout of the election. She fears it will be a replay of the COVID era, with “nobody to stand up for humanity.”

“America is turning into a different kind of country,” she said. 

Sarah, a Borough Park resident, said she would vote for Trump “even if he’s not on the ballot.”

“It’s not going to be a fair election, because it’s not fair that Democrats should just win like that,” she said. “[Trump] would have a good chance if they would leave him alone.”

U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, Brooklyn’s sole Republican congressional representative, agreed. The pol – who represents part of southern Brooklyn including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, and parts of Bath Beach and Borough Park — slammed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Democrats at large in a May 30 statement. 

“I’m confident that upon appeal, these charges will be overturned and come November, voters will see through this charade and the other attempts to block President Trump from retaking the White House,” Malliotakis said.