Former President Donald Trump just held the first rally of his 2024 presidential campaign. The beleaguered Trump will now push for his third consecutive GOP presidential nomination. But unlike the first two runs, Trump’s third run is mired in legal controversy. Multiple lawsuits and investigations are culminating, and they threaten to complicate Trump’s latest bid.
Donald Trump: The Legal Cases
The Department of Justice is considering whether to bring charges against Trump on two fronts. First, for Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents the FBI recovered from his Mar-a-Lago residence. Second, Trump’s alleged involvement in the January 6 riot.
Trump is also at risk of being charged in Atlanta over alleged attempts to interfere in Georgia’s 2020 election results. Meanwhile, a special grand jury in New York is considering Trump’s role in alleged hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign.
Lastly, New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing Trump and his children for allegedly overvaluing Trump Organization assets for the purpose of securing more favorable loans and interest rates.
Will Trump Be Disqualified from the Presidency?
Trump is unlikely to be disqualified from the presidency. The Constitution’s Article II, which outlines the qualifications required to be president, is silent on criminal convictions. Yet Trump’s opponents remain hopeful that he will be disqualified from attaining the presidency.
They cling to two main strategies for barring Trump. First, there is a federal law that prohibits the removal or destruction of government records.
Anyone convicted cannot serve in federal office. So if Trump is first charged and then convicted for taking documents from the White House, opponents hold that he would be barred from serving in federal office again.
Yeah, that’s not going to happen.
Second, Donald Trump opponents are leaning on the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which holds that no one can hold a seat in Congress, or “any office, civil or military,” if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.” Again, not going to happen – despite the Democrat’s January 6 commission making recommendations to the DOJ that Trump be charged with insurrection (among other things).
No, Trump is unlikely to be barred from holding the presidency.
Will the Cases Hurt Trump Politically?
Trump’s cult-like following doesn’t care about the prospective or pending legal cases. In fact, prosecution only lends credence to the narrative that Trump is an unjustly persecuted figure, a victim of the Deep State.
For Trump’s die-hards, the legal cases only serve to validate Trump’s appeal as an outsider and a martyr.
A New York Times/Siena College poll taken last September found that 44% of voters viewed Trump favorably. The number is consistent with years past, well before Trump’s current legal reality was so fraught.
Meanwhile, about half of the U.S. population – the half of the population who despises Trump – made up their mind about Trump nearly a decade ago. The recent legal controversy isn’t a factor in terms of how the left views Donald Trump. A Marist Poll taken in August found that 47% of Americans believed Trump did something “illegal or unethical and should be charged.”
But I’m going to guess those 47% have been saying precisely that since the moment Trump took office.
The ongoing legal dramas won’t change much in terms of how the left and right see Trump. Whether the legal cases suggest to a GOP challenger that Trump is vulnerable remains to be seen.
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Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.