Washington Prospects for former President Donald Trump Likely to be charged And even his conviction in New York raised an intriguing question about his attempt to win back the White House: Could he become president if he was charged and convicted of a crime?
The short answer, from a legal perspective, is yes, according to experts.
While charges against a former president and a major contender for a major party’s presidential nomination would certainly be unprecedented, there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent a person charged or convicted from seeking or assuming office.
“It is widely accepted that the list of qualifications in the Constitution is exclusive—that is, Congress or states cannot add qualifications to those listed in the Constitution,” said Derek Mueller, a law professor at the University of Iowa. “It’s something that doesn’t really affect your ability to run as a candidate, appear on the ballot, or even win an election.”
Trump and his allies are awaiting word on a potential indictment by a New York grand jury set up by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is investigating issues related to the case. $130,000 down payment He was introduced to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election. Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer and “go-between”, made the payment in exchange for Daniels’ agreement not to disclose an alleged affair she said she had with Trump a decade ago, which he denies.
Trump made payments to Cohen, and prosecutors are believed to be examining possible falsification of business records on the payments. Trump has denied any wrongdoing. said attorney Robert Costello, a Trump ally who said he advised Cohen on legal matters He told the grand jury Earlier this week, Cohen acted on his own in arranging the deal with Daniels and was a “totally unreliable” witness.
While Trump said over the weekend that he expects to be arrested in the case on Tuesday, the day has come and gone without any charges being laid, and the grand jury is out. It does not meet on Wednesday As planned, sources said. Trump remains at his home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, where he is swarmed with advisors In anticipation of the indictment.
The decision to impeach Trump would send shock waves throughout the political world and introduce a new and unpredictable dimension to the 2024 race for the Republican nomination. But in legal terms, the constitution provides for justice Three requirements to become presidentA person must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, age 35 or older and a resident of the United States for at least 14 years.
In fact, candidates with criminal convictions have run for president in the past. There is even a precedent for running for president from prison.
Dan Ortiz, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, referred to Eugene Debs, who ran for president while behind bars in a federal prison in Atlanta as the candidate of the Socialist Party in 1920. Debs was convicted of violating Espionage Act An anti-war speech. He won more than 3% of the vote nationwide.
Ortiz said, “I don’t know of anything that would prevent him from taking office if he won the election.”
Lyndon LaRochea fringe candidate who espoused conspiracy theories about the economic apocalypse, ran for president in every election between 1976 and 2004. He was convicted of tax and mail fraud in 1988, but that didn’t stop him from running his campaign from prison in 1992.
Although there may be practical hurdles to running a campaign under criminal charges, including any travel restrictions imposed by a judge, there are no constitutional hurdles to participating in the election, according to Mueller.
“If you’re convicted of a felony and jailed, you can’t vote, but you can win the election,” Mueller said. “The point is, there were to be very few qualifications, and they were to be left to the electors or to the state.”
In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, some House Democrats Submit a bill It seeks to prevent Trump from ever holding office again by invoking the Fourteenth Amendment, which bars anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or “provided aid or comfort” to enemies of the United States after they have sworn to uphold the Constitution. That bill didn’t make it out of the House before the Republicans took control in January.
Some of Trump’s allies argued that an impeachment would actually boost Trump’s candidacy for the Republican nomination by rallying the Republican base to his defense. So far, top GOP lawmakers and his rivals for the nomination have been reluctant to directly criticize Trump and have largely framed a potential indictment as an abuse of power by Manhattan prosecutors.
The former president also faces several other criminal investigations at the state and federal levels that could complicate his campaign for the nomination. But none of these cases would technically prevent him from running or winning the White House, even if he is ultimately convicted.