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Could Trump Really Be President From Prison?

Donald Trump
President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a Make America Great Again campaign rally at International Air Response Hangar at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Arizona.

World-famous attorney Alan Dershowitz, who contributed to O.J. Simpson’s defense team and Donald Trump’s impeachment defense, said on Sunday that if Trump were reelected and convicted, he could run the country “from prison.”

Will Trump be Convicted?

Trump posted on Truth Social media last weekend, stating that he expects to be arrested in New York this week in connection to charges stemming from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation. “Bragg’s office has been investigating Trump’s potential involvement in a 2016 scheme to pay adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to not go public about an affair the two allegedly had,” Newsweek reported. If Bragg does pull the trigger and charges Trump, it would mark the first time in U.S. history that a former president was charged criminally. 

Dershowitz believes that Trump will not only be charged, but also convicted in New York “because of what he viewed as the city’s unfair legal system,” according to Newsweek. “He also added that Trump can still run for president and even serve in office from prison if convicted.”

“He will be indicted,” Dershowitz said. “In New York, you can indict a ham sandwich. In New York City, you can convict a ham sandwich because the jury pool is so unfair. Even if he’s convicted, he can run for president. He can run for president from prison; he can even serve as president from prison.”

Trump has said he absolutely intends to continue his 2024 presidential campaign – even if he is indicted. And why not? An indictment would be like red meat for Trump’s base, who he has convinced, through eight years of rhetoric (paired with a heavy-handed Democratic pursuit) that he is the victim of a relentless witch-hunt.

Could Trump Run if Convicted?

The U.S. Constitution is silent on whether convicted felons can pursue or hold elected office. So, nothing in the Constitution prevents Trump from running for, or serving, as president in the event Bragg charges and convicts Trump. But the Constitution’s 14th Amendment empowers “Congress to pass laws that bar individuals who participated in an insurrection against the country from holding office,” Newsweek reported. 

Bragg’s investigation into Trump in no way relates to insurrection. But an ongoing Department of Justice investigation is considering whether Trump’s part in the January 6th riots constitutes insurrection. Last year, the House made a criminal referral to the DOJ recommending that Trump be charged with “inciting, assisting or aiding and comforting an insurrection.”

Whether the DOJ will indict Trump on any insurrection-related charges remains to be seen. And even if Trump were indicted, he would need to be convicted. So, a lot must happen before Trump is convicted of anything related to insurrection, or before the 14th Amendment comes into play.

So, Dershowitz’s premise, that Trump could run and serve as president regardless of the outcome in the New York courts, seems to hold water (in a legal sense) for the time being. In a practical sense, the premise of a person running the country from prison seems absurd. What would the logistics look like? 

Would Trump be held to the same protocols as every other prisoner (i.e., visitation limits, call limits, etc.) or would he be afforded special privileges on account of his responsibility for seeing to the global world order? It’s a captivating premise to consider – but I’m not expecting to see a prison-bound president at any point soon.

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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 listens to Dokken.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.

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