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Can Trump still run for president if convicted?

Can Trump still run for president if convicted?


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A jury will soon weigh Donald Trump's fate in the secret New York trial that could result in him becoming the first US president to be convicted of a crime.

Meanwhile, he faces three other criminal charges for hiding classified documents in Florida and attempting to overturn the 2020 election in two separate cases in Washington DC and Fulton County, Georgia. And this, while he remains on the trail of a new stint at the White House.

The ex-commander in chief, already the first in American history to be impeached twice, is also grappling with a number of other lawsuits related to his business practices and personal history.

He denies all possible accusations and argues that, in any case, a president should have absolute immunity from prosecution to allow him to carry out difficult decisions in the Oval Office without fear of future reprisals, a question on which the United States Supreme Court could soon rule.

Despite this whirlwind of controversy, conservative voters appear largely convinced by Mr. Trump's baseless narrative of political persecution, which he has blithely used to raise money for his campaign.

The candidate has insisted he will remain in the presidential race regardless of the outcome of the criminal proceedings against him, and so far his strategy of delay, delay, delay appears to be working, no other trial does not seem likely before Election Day.

What are the four indictments about?

Mr Trump's problems began in April 2023, when he became the first former or current US president to face criminal charges when a New York City grand jury voted to indict him for an alleged secret payment of $130,000 made to porn star Stormy. Daniels just before the 2016 election.

He has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide the payment to Ms. Daniels, allegedly made to suppress her allegations about an extramarital sexual relationship in 2006 that could have cost her valuable support in the election .

His second indictment followed in June, when Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith brought federal charges against Mr. Trump and his valet, Walt Nauta, with 37 counts related to illegal retention of classified documents after the presidency and obstruction of justice.

A second Trump employee, Carlos De Oliveira, was later also implicated in the affair, sparked after the FBI searched his private residence, Mar-a-Lago, for boxes of classified documents that he had refused to release. returned to the National Archives. .

Donald Trump appears in Manhattan court in April 2023 (AP)

Mr. Trump's third indictment, again courtesy of Mr. Smith, came in August and related to the 2020 election and his role in sparking the Capitol riot.

The former president was subsequently indicted a fourth time in Georgia later that month, this time charged by Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis with 13 counts related to an alleged plot to change the outcome elections in this pivotal state following his defeat. Joe Biden.

He was indicted alongside 18 other defendants, including Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows and Sidney Powell, in an indictment containing a total of 41 racketeering-related counts.

Mr. Trump was further found responsible for the sexual abuse and defamation of E Magazine columnist Jean Carroll and fraud over the systematic inflation of the value of his assets by the Trump Organization to obtain favorable terms from lenders , which resulted in a $464 million judgment against him earlier. This year.

So can he still run for president?

There are no explicit restrictions in the U.S. Constitution to prevent anyone charged or convicted of a crime or even currently serving a prison sentence from running for or winning the presidency.

That said, a clause in the 14th Amendment was enough to convince the Colorado Supreme Court and the Maine Secretary of State that Mr. Trump should be removed from the ballot because of his role in inciting the events of the January 6.

However, the former president successfully appealed both decisions and the case ended up before the Supreme Court, with a conservative majority. There, the justices ignored the question of whether or not he had engaged in insurrection, but unanimously determined that only Congress could disqualify a candidate for federal office.

Thanks to the success of Mr. Trump's delaying tactics, none of the other indictments against him currently have a trial date set in stone, with Judge Tanya Chutkan of Washington DC and Judge Aileen Cannon of Florida having withdrawn the dates they had initially set, according to the Manhattan. The silent trial could be his last court appearance before November 5.

But even if the tectonic plates suddenly shifted and one of the trials moved quickly and guaranteed a miraculous conviction, Mr. Trump would still be free to run his entire campaign from his prison cell.

What's much less clear is what would happen if he won.

Trump booking photo released by the Fulton County Sheriff's Office in August 2023 (Reuters)

Just as there are no restrictions in the Constitution on someone running while under indictment, there is no explanation of what should happen if they win, not even an automatic reprieve of his prison sentence.

However, if Mr. Trump were to assume the presidency while the federal charges were still pending, they would likely be dropped due to the Justice Department's refusal to prosecute a sitting president.

But state-level charges like those filed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg or Ms. Willis would not fall under any potential presidential pardon power.

If the politician were to be convicted of the state charges and win the 2024 vote, it would likely lead to a massive legal fight to determine whether there is a way for him to escape his sentence.

If Mr. Trump failed to avoid this outcome, it would almost certainly lead to his impeachment (for a stunning third time) or removal via the 25th Amendment.

There are many duties and attributes of the presidency that he simply would not be able to perform from a prison cell viewing classified documents, to name just one.

While much remains unknown, the conversations Donald Trump began with his run for president under such troubled circumstances have already pushed theoretical constitutional law to far darker places than many experts ever thought possible. .

This story was updated on May 24, 2024 to reflect new developments.




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