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Could Trump Run for President If He is a Convicted Felon?

You have probably seen a dozen articles by now that ask the question: "Could Trump run for president if he is indicted?" In case you missed the answer, it is "Yes, he could." The Constitution specifies three explicit requirements to qualify to be president:

Trump passes all three tests. There are three additional requirements imposed by amendments:

The first two of these are not relevant to Trump, although if he is convicted of inciting an insurrection, the third one could be relevant.

Although this is putting the cart before the elephant, what if Trump is convicted of a felony? Prof. Derek Muller of the University of Iowa Law School says that if Trump were convicted of a felony, he would lose the right to vote, but unless the felony were an insurrection against the United States, he would not be disqualified from running, winning, and serving, even if he were in prison, although the logistics would be complex. For example, how would the Secret Service protect him? Could he hold cabinet meetings in prison? If he were convicted of a federal felony, he could probably pardon himself, since the pardon power appears to be absolute. But if he were in a state prison, in theory he could still serve as president.

Candidates have run for president from prison before. Eugene Debs was the nominee of the Socialist Party in 1920, even though he was in federal prison in Atlanta after having been convicted of violating the Espionage Act when he gave a speech in 1918 advocating resisting the draft. He got 914,000 votes (3.4%) but no electoral votes. Lyndon LaRouche was convicted of tax and mail fraud in 1988, but he ran for president in 1992 while in prison.

Of course, the political situation might be different from the legal one. If Trump is convicted of a felony before the Republican National Convention in July 2024 in Milwaukee, unbound delegates might decide somebody else might be a better bet, but bound delegates would be expected to vote for him anyway. If they bolted and voted for someone else, it might get a bit dicey. If bound delegates went rogue, that would violate Party rules and maybe state law, but the votes might still count. At that point RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel might start banging her head against a wall while muttering: "Why did I take this @#$!%#!!! job? Was I out of my mind?" If Trump were convicted of a felony prior to the convention, got the nomination while appeals were pending, and lost his last appeal in September 2024, well, here be dragons. (V)

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