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What Trump’s most devoted supporters make of guilty verdict

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Getty Images A poster of Donald Trump features the words 'Never Surrender' and 'Justice for Trump'Getty Images

“It’s a very sad day for America,” said one man outside the New York court room where Donald Trump was found guilty of all charges in his so-called hush-money case.

“I think justice has been done, Donald Trump brought all of this on himself,” said another.

The two reactions eclipse the huge divergence of opinions that many Americans have towards the jury’s guilty verdict.

That split is clear among those who have supported and voted for him in the past too.

So what do Trump supporters make of Thursday’s historic verdict?

“They convicted an innocent man today,” John McGuigan, a Trump fan in New York City told AFP news agency.

Podcaster Jeremy Scott Gibbs said it was “absolutely a travesty of justice”.

“This is something that has shown to all of the American people out there how corrupt our government and our court systems have become,” he said, speaking to the Associated Press news agency.

Mr Trump was convicted of falsifying accounts in order to conceal payments made to an adult film actress just before the 2016 election.

Prosecutors said it was an attempt to defraud voters.

Banner saying 'Trump convicted'

But the justice system itself is now being scrutinised by his followers.

The claim that foul play and corruption influenced the guilty verdict is something that’s been amplified online among Trump-supporting hard-liners, with thousands of posts appearing about “Civil War.”

Far-right podcaster Stew Peters told his hundreds of thousands of Telegram followers: “Our judicial system has been weaponized… we are left with NO other option but to take matters into our own hands”.

He used a crossed swords emoji to hammer home his point, and followers responded with talk of burning down courthouses and rioting.

But it is worth noting that others, including many Trump opponents, were quick to pour scorn on such sentiments online.

New Yorkers react to Trump guilty verdict

For some, the conviction has done nothing but bolster their support for Trump.

“I am going to vote for him a hundred times,” said Mickel Perz Ruiz, 47. “He is the only one who can move the country forward.”

But for others, the conviction has changed their perspective on Trump.

Life-long Republican Jim Sullivan, 54, told the BBC that while he felt the judge was biased against Trump in the trial, the verdict will make it difficult for him to support the former president again.

“There’s no way I can support a convicted felon as president. He’ll have to appeal and win for that to change,” he said.

The conviction is likely to work in Trump’s favour as he seeks re-election, he thinks.

Echoing that view was Republican Michigan State representative Matt Maddock: “I honestly think that this is good for President Trump.”

“I think, both black voters, the Hispanic voters, I think this is something that’s going to encourage a lot more people to be supportive of President Trump,” he told the Associated Press.

Additional reporting by Mike Wendling, Sam Cabral and Ana Faguy

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