Americans should already know that former President Donald Trump can still run for president, although he was indicted on March 31, on several criminal charges by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in New York, stemming from hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Adding to Trump’s woes, he might be indicted by District Attorney Fanni Willis for allegedly attempting to sway a state official to find the numbers to give him the win over Biden in Georgia and the Department of Justice will most likely seek indictments against the ex-president as result of the violent protesters storming the Capitol on January 6, 2021, to hijack the election won by Joe Biden. Trump is accused of triggering the protestors to unlawfully enter the Capitol.
“There is no bar to running for president while under indictment and nothing that would prevent him from serving as president,” veteran election law expert Stanley Brand told a Politifact reporter.
The U.S. Constitution upholds the principle that voters decide who shall represent them.
Previous convicted felons have run for president. For example, Lyndon LaRouche was convicted in 1988 of tax and mail fraud conspiracy and ran for president multiple times between 1976 and 2004.
Eugene Debs was convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 for an anti-war speech, then ran for president under the Socialist Party banner from a federal prison in Alabama in 1920. Debs’ supporters handed out campaign buttons for “Prisoner 9653.”
The candidate who won the presidency that year, Warren Harding, eventually commuted Debs’ 10-year sentence, said James Robenalt, a lawyer who has written about the relationship between Debs and Harding.
Remember how former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards served several years in federal prison and upon Edward’s release he ran for Congress but lost to Garret Graves in 2014.
State constitutions and laws include provisions that say people convicted of felonies can’t run for office, but these provisions apply only to state or local candidates.
Article 11, Section 1, of the Constitution doesn’t mention criminal records. The only requirement for a candidate to run as president is to be at least 35 years old and a resident in the U.S. for 14 years.
According to Constitutional law, Trump can be elected president if indicted – or even convicted – in any state court or federal court over the laundry list of serious charges he is currently facing, legal experts have told news media outlets.
But many challenges will come into play.
As criminal charges loom like a thick, black cloud over Trump’s head and since he has been officially indicted on criminal charges the accusations will nonetheless head down uncharted territory: no U.S. president has faced criminal charges within the last recent century.
Trump recently told his loyal supporters that he “will be arrested” within the next few days.
For awhile now, Trump’s critics and die-hard haters had been waiting the big moment when criminal charges were filed against him over the hush-hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels.
The ex-president also faces the possibility of criminal indictments stemming from the accusations that he tried to sway the Secretary of State to flip the election count in Georgia and declare him the winner.
Georgia has always been a deep red state that Republicans have always won. Yet, still, Joe Biden won Georgia in 2020, thus causing Trump to lose the peach state.
Determined not to quit, Trump said during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he would “absolutely” stay in the race for president even if he were to be criminally indicted.
“I wouldn’t even think about leaving,” he told reporters ahead of his speech. “Probably it will enhance my numbers.”
Trump denied wrongdoing and hastily characterized the investigations as part of a “witch hunt” against him.
Can 14th Amendment Disqualify Trump?
The 14th Amendment could be used to disqualify Trump. Why? Insurrection against America.
The Constitution includes no qualifications pertaining to the aforementioned requirements for a person to run for president, except for one condition.
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment disqualifies any person from holding federal office “who, having previously taken an oath … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
So, why should this particular amendment matter to Trump?
The Department of Justice Special Investigator Jack Smith is currently investigating Trump for alleged wrongful activities related to the January 6, insurrection at the Capitol.
According to an article in “The Conversation” in November 2022, under the provisions of the 14th Amendment, Congress is authorized to pass laws to enforce its provisions.
And in February 2021, one Democratic Congressman proposed House Bill 1405, providing for a “cause of action to remove and bar from holding office certain individuals who engage in insurrection or rebellion against the United States.”
Even in the event of Trump being found to have participated “in the insurrection or rebellion,” he might conceivably argue that he is exempt from Section 3 for a number of reasons.
For instance, the 14th Amendment does not specifically refer to the presidency and it is not “self-executing” – that is, it needs subsequent legislation to enforce it.
Trump could also point to the fact that Congress enacted an Amnesty Act in 1872 that lifted the ban on preventing former officials from holding “political office,” officials who were from southern Confederate states.
He might also argue that his activities on and before Jan. 6 did not constitute an “insurrection” as it is understood by the wording of the amendment.
There are few judicial precedents that interpret Section 3, and as such its application in modern times remains unclear.
So even if House Bill 1405 were adopted, it is not clear whether it would be enough to disqualify Trump from serving as president again.
Presidential Run Discussion
ABC News reported in their telecast that previous Supreme Court rulings hold that Congress cannot add qualifications to the office of the president.
In addition, a state cannot prohibit indicted or convicted felons from running for federal office.
Here are quotes taken verbatim from the ABC News cast:
“Some people are surprised to learn that there’s no constitutional bar on a felon running for president, but there’s no such bar,” said Kate Shaw, ABC News legal analyst and professor at Cardozo School of Law.
“Because of the 22nd Amendment, the individual can’t have been twice elected president previously,” Shaw said. “But there’s nothing in the Constitution disqualifying individuals convicted of crimes from running for or serving as president.”
Shaw said that while incarceration “would presumably make campaigning difficult if not impossible,” the impediment would be a “practical problem, not a legal one.”
James Sample, a constitutional law professor at Hofstra University, told ABC News that the Constitution sets the minimum requirements, but leaves the rest up to the voters.
“It depends on the wisdom of the people to determine that an individual is not fit for office,” Sampler said.
“So the most fundamental obstacle that President Trump has in seeking office in 2024 is the obstacle that anyone has, but he has it in a different and more pronounced way — which is proving to the voters that the individual deserves the office.”
If Trump was convicted and prevented by law from traveling out of state, Sampler said, that would impose a practical limitation on his ability to travel the country and campaign — but it wouldn’t prohibit him from running.
Sampler also pointed out an irony in the electoral system, in which many states bar convicted felons from voting. According to the Sentencing Project advocacy group, 48 states have laws that ban people with felony convictions from voting.
“It is a sad day for a country that ostensibly values democratic participation and equality, that individuals who’ve been convicted of a felony can be prohibited from participating even as voters in our democracy, but a president convicted of a felony is still allowed,” he said.
Jessica Levinson, a professor of election law at Loyola Law School, agreed.
“You could conceivably have a situation where the president of the United States is not disqualified from being president … but can’t vote for himself,” Levinson told ABC News.
“The interesting thing about the qualifications like you have to be born here, you have to live here for a certain amount of time … all of that is kind of getting at the idea that we want you to be loyal to our country,” Levinson said. “But you could conceivably be convicted of crimes against our country, and still be able to serve as president.”
Trump’s indictment, as stated, is unprecedented in U.S. history and it’s implications mark another fork-in-the road for the twice-impeached ex-president who allegedly attempted to disrupt the historic tradition of peaceful transfers of power among presidents.
Department of Justice investigators and the U.S. Congressional Panel members said Trump lied when he told the world the 2020 election had been rigged and stolen from him when there’s not an iota of credible evidence to corroborate his outlandish claims.
The indictment against Donald Trump has, so far, proven that no one, not even a popular ex-president is above the law.
Newsblaze Journalist Clarence Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org