How South Carolina's congressional delegation and others reacted to Trump's conviction

Savannah Moss
Greenville News
Former president Donald Trump's looks on after the announcement of the verdict of his criminal trial over charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, outside Trump Tower, in New York City on May 30, 2024

Former President Donald Trump was found guilty on all 34 felony counts in a criminal hush money trial on Thursday.

The trial stems from Trump being accused of falsifying business records in order to hide hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, a porn star. He is the first former U.S. president to be convicted of a crime.

Several South Carolina politicians and politicos were quick to react to the news of the verdict from the jurors that came after a six-week trial. Here's what they said.

Barbara Melvin, South Carolina PortsÕ President and CEO laughs as she sits next to U.S. Rep. William Timmons, left, during the Voice of Business Brunch at University of South Carolina Upstate on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.

U.S. Rep. William Timmons, 4th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. William Timmons, backed by Trump for a second time as he vies for the Republican nomination for South Carolina's 4th Congressional District against challenger Adam Morgan, called the verdict an "abomination."

"The fix was always in — from the DA to the judge, this trial was rigged from the start," Timmons said in a statement. "Trump is leading in every swing state and every single poll. This is election interference in plain sight," Timmons said. "This verdict is an abomination and will be overturned on appeal. The judge cannot incarcerate the former president and current leading nominee for president six months before the election. The judge must allow Trump to remain free while Trump pursues his appeal. Additionally, the Supreme Court needs to take the appeal up on original jurisdiction immediately.  Remanding Donald Trump into custody or confining him to home incarceration very well could spell the end of the Republic.

State Rep. Adam Morgan, candidate, 4th Congressional District

State Rep. Adam Morgan (R-Greenville) also responded, saying Trump should appeal.

State Rep. Adam Morgan is greeted by supporters during a rally in support of Morgan's campaign against incumbent, William Timmons, at the Marriott in Greenville, S.C. on Tuesday, April 23, 2024.

"As this trial has unfolded, we’ve witnessed the continued weaponization of government against President Trump. An unchecked government that targets its political enemies is a travesty. It’s wrong. It’s un-American and I won’t stand for it," Morgan said. President Trump should immediately appeal this case. The American people have seen the lengths that the Biden administration will go to attack its political enemies. We look forward to telling the Biden administration what we think in the November election."

More:How will Donald Trump's guilty verdict hit his reelection bid? Is his political fallout here?

Sen. Lindsey Graham

On X, formerly known as Twitter, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham wrote that he expected Trump to appeal and be elected president in November.

Sen. Lindsey Graham holds a press conference in his downtown Greenville, S.C. office on Friday, March 15, 2024.

"This verdict says more about the system than the allegations. It will be seen as politically motivated and unfair, and it will backfire tremendously on the political Left," Graham wrote. "The Manhattan legal system has become a joke in every sense of the word. This is a mockery of justice. I fear we have opened up Pandora’s box on the presidency itself."

U.S. Rep. James Clyburn

James Clyburn, the lone Democrat in South Carolina’s congressional delegation representing the 6th district, wrote to X that "the jury has spoken. Justice has prevailed."

U.S. Rep James Clyburn (D-SC) talks before U.S. President Joe Biden at FlexLTD in West Columbia, S.C. Thursday, July 6, 2023.

Yvonne Julian, Greenville County GOP chair

Yvonne Julian, Greenville County GOP party chairperson, said she isn't surprised by the verdict and questioned the legitimacy of the trial. She said the trial is an effort to weaponize the justice system in order to keep Trump out of office.

Yvonne Julian, Greenville County GOP chair, smiles during a watch party at the GOP headquarters in Greenville, S.C., on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024.

"It's clearly just an effort to keep him out of a very corrupted political business. There's no way that someone like Trump would get an honest jury in a city like New York," Julian said. "There's no way that someone like Trump would get an honest jury in a city like New York with the level of criminality in that city itself. A city that most people are fleeing that's full of people who have entered the country illegally."

Julian also said politicians against Trump conspire against him due to jealousy.

More:Donald Trump is now a convicted felon: Can he still run for president?

"Government is their only path to money and partly because they don't have the work ethic. The talent or the honesty to get rich, to get rich the old-fashioned way. Those people resent people like Trump. They resent the fact that he's built a business doing something that adds value for people," she said.

Julian added that she thinks Republican voters will continue to support Trump.

"Trump basically stands for what real Republicans believe in which is not big government but the biggest problem Trump has is exposing the government for both sides, whether it's to the left or right, and that's why he's been attacked."

Nate Leupp, past chairman of Greenville GOP

Nate Leupp, past chairman of the Greenville GOP, and district chairman of the 4th Congressional District, was optimistic about the verdict's impact on the upcoming election.

Nate Leupp has been a well-known and widely covered conservative activist for years. He has served as chairman of the Greenville County Republican Party and is chairman of the 4th Congressional District Republican Party.

"I think it's great. Our ultimate goal is President Trump back in the White House, so I think this verdict is something that helps that end goal. I think polls have shown it, I think the trajectory of the race has shown it, and the general defiance of logic always applies to President Trump in my view," Leupp said.

Leupp added that past moves against Trump have only enlivened his base.

"I think we've already seen the more that Americans feel that there's unjust and unfair prosecution and persecution that it will just drive President Trump’s poll numbers higher and higher, which is something I don’t think Democrats really guessed when they started this, but I think they know it now." 

Leupp noted that he would have ideally had the verdict come after the June 11 primary.

"I’m not happy that this takes the eye of South Carolina voters because I do want them to pay special attention for our June 11 primary. But I think our faithful are coming out to vote no matter what, and at least here in the Upstate, most every candidate is a good option," Leupp said.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, 5th Congressional District

Ralph Norman, a Republican representing South Carolina’s 5th district, posted to X that the verdict reflects a “political witch hunt, and America knows it.” Norman backed presidential hopeful Nikki Haley in this year’s 2024 presidential race, later endorsing Trump after Haley dropped out.   

“The weaponization of our country’s justice system has come to a head in this verdict. The American people know this lawfare is a DANGER to our democracy.” 

U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, 3rd Congressional District

Jeff Duncan (R-SC 3rd District) urged Trump to “immediately appeal.”  

“I’m disgusted by the unconstitutional and unprecedented trial that has wrongly convicted President Trump,” Duncan said in a statement. “From the beginning, we have seen a left-leaning judge strip away the First Amendment rights of President Trump to defend himself as the left waged war on him with charges that no one knew until this week. Additionally, the judge disallowed some witnesses for President Trump which could have clarified business transactions — almost certainly setting this trial up for reversal.” 

U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, 1st Congressional District  

U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC 1st District) posted to X that it was a “very dark day for American democracy when the law is weaponized against its own citizens.” Trump endorsed her in March in her bid for re-election to Congress.  

Mark Burns, candidate, 3rd Congressional District  

Mark Burns, a Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, said in a video posted to X that the indictments will help in Trump’s re-election bid. 

“America is going to see If they can do it to him, a former President of the United States of America, they can do it to you,” Burns said.  

Sherri Biggs, GOP candidate, 3rd Congressional District

Sherri Biggs, considered one of the front-runners for South Carolina's 3rd Congressional District, said in a statement that the verdict was a "stain on our nation's history."

"Politicization of our justice system should never happen," Biggs said. "I have stood with President Trump from day one. I still stand with President Trump. We must win the election and restore integrity to our judicial system."

Sen. Tim Scott  

“Joe Biden, you’re fired,” Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican who many consider a contender for Trump’s pick for vice president, said in a video posted to X.  

“Absolute injustice. This erodes our justice system,” Scott said on X. “Hear me clearly: You cannot silence the American people. You cannot stop us from voting for change.” 

Gov. Henry McMaster  

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster posted to X that the trial was a “political attack.”  

“We will respond decisively at the ballot box in November and return him to the White House,” McMaster said.

Reporters Terry Benjamin II and Samantha Swann contributed.