Multiple reports over the weekend indicated former President Donald Trump could be indicted soon by a grand jury in New York. Then Monday, news surfaced of an Atlanta, Georgia, district attorney who is reportedly preparing to file charges as well against Trump.
Trump has already launched his campaign to become president in 2024, which leads to a question: If Trump is indicted and then found guilty, can he still run for president in 2024?
The short answer is yes.
The Constitution sets out the requirements for an individual to run for president in Article II, Section I.
“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
Citizenship, age, and residency are all constitutional requirements to run for president, but a clean criminal record is not.
There is some precedent of individuals running for president with a criminal record. In 1920, Eugene V. Debs ran for president from prison after unlawfully protesting the draft in World War I. His campaign buttons read “Prisoner 9653,” and he was unsuccessful although he garnered nearly a million votes.
And currently, Joe Exotic, made famous in the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King,” is running for president as a libertarian while in prison. He is serving a 21 year sentence for murder-for-hire.
Arrest talk giving Trump’s campaign a boost?
The possible New York charges involve Trump’s payments to Stormy Daniels in 2016 through his then-attorney that were allegedly recorded as a legal fee rather than a business record, which is a misdemeanor. He could also be charged with a federal campaign finance disclosure failure and cover-up, which is a felony.
The Georgia special purpose grand jury is considering if the former president should be indicted for a felony for his efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election results in the Peach State.
Trump asked his followers last week to “protest” if he is arrested. He predicted on Truth Social that could happen as soon as Tuesday.
Trump has characterized the possible charges as politically motivated and an abuse of power by elected prosecutors. Similar to the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago, Florida, home for classified documents last August, it’s possible the arrest could boost his campaign.
Trump even said so.
Earlier this month, he told The Associated Press an indictment wouldn’t discourage his presidential ambitions.
Reporters asked him if he’d continue his campaign if he was charged of a crime. “Oh, absolutely, I won’t even think about leaving,” he said, adding that “probably, it’ll enhance my numbers, but it’s a very bad thing for America. It’s very bad for the country.”
A boost of his campaign appears possible.
Elon Musk also predicted Saturday that Trump’s arrest would result in a “landslide victory” for him.
If this happens, Trump will be re-elected in a landslide victory— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 18, 2023
Not only could rank-and-file Republicans rally to Trump’s defense, but congressional leaders are already doing just that.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Saturday he would call a congressional investigation into Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg if he indicts Trump. He referred to the potential prosecution as “an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump.”
Then Monday, three GOP leaders — House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, House Oversight Chairman James Comer and House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil — sent a joint letter requesting that Bragg testify in front of Congress.
“Your decision to pursue such a politically motivated prosecution ... requires congressional scrutiny about how public safety funds appropriated by Congress are implemented by local law-enforcement agencies,” the chairmen said in the letter.
The scope of the congressional inquiry would be confined to determining if any federal public safety funds were used as part of the grand jury investigation.
Calls for ‘no protest’
McCarthy asked Trump supporters not to protest if he is arrested. “I don’t think people should protest this, no,” he said a press conference at the House Republican annual retreat in Orlando, Florida.
Also speaking out against protests was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. She tweeted Saturday that there is no need to protest since she believes an indictment of Trump would “seal” Democrats’ fate in 2024.
We don’t need to protest about the Communists Democrat’s planning to arrest Pres Trump and the political weaponization of our government and election interference.— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) March 18, 2023
These idiots are sealing their own fate in 2024 because the silent majority has two feelings right now about the… https://t.co/LQJbh559bT
Other GOP presidential hopefuls speak out
Other potential Republican presidential candidates have spoken against a possible Trump arrest.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, a possible 2024 presidential candidate, told Breitbart the possible indictment reminds him of his time in the Trump administration. “It reeks of the kind of political prosecution that we endured back in the days of the Russia hoax and the whole impeachment over a phone call.”
Entrepreneur and declared GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy also denounced the possible Trump indictments.
“It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals,” Ramaswamy said. “If a Republican prosecutor in 2004 had used a campaign finance technicality to arrest then-candidate John Kerry while Bush and Cheney were in power, liberals would have cried foul — and rightly so.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is a leading Republican contender against Trump, gave a more nuanced answer, criticizing the Manhattan district attorney but also appearing to mock Trump for his moral choices.
“I don’t know what goes into paying hush many to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair,” DeSantis said to scattered laughter at a press conference on Monday.
“I have no interest in getting involved in some type of manufactured circus by some Soros DA,” DeSantis said, referring to billionaire George Soros, a top Democratic donor. “We’ve got so may things pending in front of the (Florida) legislature. I’ve got to spend my time on issues that actually matter to people. I can’t spend my time worrying about things of that nature,” he added.