Can Trump Be Barred From Running, Whether He’s Convicted or Not?

Can Trump Be Barred From Running, Whether He's Convicted or Not?

Trump BARRED From Running? Not So Fast

( – From the House Select Committee’s January 6 hearings to the most recent FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago estate, former President Donald Trump seems to be in hot water over his dealings in the final weeks of his first term as president. Now, people are starting to debate if the law would even allow him to run for office again if a jury convicts him of a federal crime or even if he’s not.

What Does It Take To Be President?

According to Article II, Section I, Clause 5 of the US Constitution, a candidate for president must be a natural-born citizen, a resident for at least 14 years, and at least 35 years old. Both President Joe Biden and Trump are more than double the age requirement, so that is clearly not an issue. The other two are not up for debate with these men, either.

This incredibly short list of qualifications clearly does not bar a convicted felon from holding office, and history supports that. In the early 20th century, Eugene Debs ran for president over three times and even campaigned from his jail cell. Since the Founding Fathers started this nation, no president has been convicted of a crime, even though some candidates came dangerously close, as in the case of Hillary Clinton.

According to Newsweek, University of Chicago law professor Tom Ginsburg said that looking to charge and convict a former president is a “highly fraught thing to do” as it “opens the door to spurious prosecutions of political opponents down the road.”

What Indictments and Convictions Could Trump Face?

Most reports lead the public to believe that Trump may have had documents meant to be held by the National Archives at his Florida home, and that was the reason for the raid. However, if this “probable cause” is what motivated the search warrant, FBI agents were not barred from removing evidence of other crimes if they stumbled upon it.

So, it is notable that this raid happened as some prosecutors are trying to charge the 45th president with inciting an insurrection. If convicted of such a crime, under US Code § 2383, Trump could face up to 10 years in prison, a hefty fine, and “be incapable of holding any office under the United States.” However, this law clearly lays out a different qualification for a president, which is in direct conflict with the Constitution.

If the former POTUS is convicted for removing classified documents, a charge ironically close to that of his 2016 presidential competitor Hillary Clinton, it is unlikely such a conviction would bar him from office, either. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey even agreed the Constitutional requirements laid out in Article II overrule any other law.

Trump 2024? Only Time Can Tell

Trump has yet to announce another presidential run, although this FBI search likely added fuel to his political fire in whatever path he tries out next. While it is far-fetched that any conviction would legally bar him from running for president again, do you think ending up in jail would disqualify him in the court of public opinion?

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