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Former President Donald Trump handed himself over to authorities Tuesday at a Miami courthouse, pleading not guilty to 37 felony counts, but the indictment and even a potential conviction won’t disqualify Trump from running for another term in the White House.
The 37 charges against Trump stem from his handling of sensitive documents. The former president stands accused of retaining national defense information, attempting to obstruct justice, and lying to investigators. The criminal trial, however, will not stop Trump from campaigning for the 2024 White House bid, and even if he is convicted, the Constitution doesn’t prohibit Trump from running for the presidency.
The U.S. Constitution requires a person to be a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, and a resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years. While the Constitution specifies that certain things disqualify a person from being elected president, none of them apply to Trump’s criminal case — as long as he at least avoids impeachment by the House followed by a conviction in the Senate.
If a president is impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate of high crimes and misdemeanors, he is removed from office and barred from serving again. Trump, while impeached by the House twice, was never convicted by the Senate.
The 14th Amendment also includes a “disqualification clause” intended to prevent former Confederate soldiers from holding office. Some on the Left argue that Trump should be barred from holding office based on the January 6 riot, which many claim was an “insurrection,” but stopping Trump from running based on the 14th Amendment would have to take a long road through the courts and is unrelated to the indictment for his handling of classified documents.
Trump could also pardon himself if he wins his second term in office, as the Constitution only stops a president from granting a pardon “in cases of impeachment.”
Last week, Trump, who holds a commanding lead in 2024 GOP primary polls, vowed to stay in the race even if he’s convicted of crimes, telling POLITICO that he will “never leave.”
“Look, if I would have left, I would have left prior to the original race in 2016,” the former president said. “That was a rough one. In theory that was not doable.”