Former President Donald Trump is facing a variety of legal challenges. Multiple investigations are under way. A civil suit has already been filed. Criminal charges are being considered (if Trump were charged it would represent the first time a former president had ever been charged criminally).
From New York to Washington, D.C., to Florida, Donald Trump is potentially in legal hot water.
Can Trump’s nascent 2024 campaign survive if one, or multiple, charges are brought against the beleaguered former president?
Nothing would bar Donald Trump from serving as President
Article II of the Constitution, which lays out the qualifications for serving as president, is silent on criminal convictions. Trump opponents are holding out hope however, that one of two legal avenues will bar the former president from serving in office ever again. First, a federal law that prohibits the removal or destruction of government records (and carries a penalty of barring the offender from serving in federal office).
Yeah, you can forget that one; for that law to prevent Trump from assuming the presidency he would need to be charged and convicted of mishandling classified documents. Second, the 14th Amendment of the Constitution prohibits people who have committed insurrection from holding office.
For the 14th Amendment to bar Trump from holding the presidency again he would first need to be straight-up convicted of insurrection. That’s not going to happen, despite what Liz Cheney tells you.
Sure, the House’s January 6th Committee recommended that the DOJ charge Trump with insurrection (amongst other things).
But the House’s January 6th investigation was a political hack job, whose conclusions well before the eighteen-month investigation was conducted.
The thing you have to remember is that Trump hasn’t even been charged with anything yet.
So, for Trump to be convicted of something – something that would bar him from serving as president again – is a liberal pipe dream, a fantasy straight from the Rachel Maddow Show.
Trump will survive politically
Trump rose to prominence aloft the narrative that he was the ultimate political outsider. Trump reinforced the narrative through endless claims of victimhood (some legitimate, some absurd), endless claims that he was the subject of a witch hunt. Trump’s cult-like base, a group befitting it’s own acronym (MAGA), thrives on the narrative; the narrative sustains Trump’s enduring popularity, eight years on.
It’s hard to imagine a better boost to the narrative that Trump is a wrongly persecuted political outsider than bringing charges against Trump and/or convicting him. If charges were brought, if a conviction was handed down, Trump’s base would find their most perfect validation; the base would be energized, enthusiastic to defend a martyred Donald Trump.
What I’m getting at is that yes, Trump could survive politically if he were charged and/or convicted. The base would love it. Trump probably wouldn’t lose much either. Half the country already despises Trump as if he were Judas himself.
A charge or conviction would validate the left’s animosity of Trump – but that animosity has existed since Trump first became a national-level politician, so it won’t detract from Trump’s standing, it won’t give him anything new to survive.
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If Trump has one admirable quality, it’s the ability to survive. Expect him to wiggle out of the trouble he’s in now.
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.