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Trump, Convicted: How Can He STILL Be President?

I think I should start by saying that this is hands-down a historic moment that could potentially impact his campaign for a second presidential term. On Thursday, a Manhattan jury convicted former President Donald Trump on 34 felony counts of falsifying business documents that might have been related to a hush money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Even if the outcome of his campaign against President Joe Biden won’t be known until November, it’s quite clear that he can keep on going on his path as a GOP presidential nominee, even if he is convicted.

The Constitution lays out a clear set of guidelines for those who are seeking to be the next president. However, the criteria, which were clearly outlined in Article II, Section 1, are quite brief: A candidate should be a “natural-born citizen” (largely taken to mean born in America), be a minimum of 35 years old, and have lived in America for 14 years.

As NBC News and MSNBC legal analyst Chuch Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney, has stated, “There are no other qualifications other than those in the Constitution. There are only three requirements.”

As it turns out, no part of the Constitution states that people who have been convicted of crimes can’t run for president. The 14th Amendment could include an insurrection clause that might prevent previous officeholders who “engaged in insurrection” from running for different offices.

However, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this year discovered that Congress is also responsible for setting rules about how the clause can be enforced against candidates for federal office. Trump wasn’t convicted of any insurrection charges on Thursday. Moreover, there doesn’t seem to be enough political will in a narrowly divided Congress to fully bar him from serving as president.

Photo by lev radin from Shutterstock

What did Trump say?

An angry Trump told reporters after leaving the courtroom that “this was a rigged, disgraceful trial. The real verdict will be on November 5 by the people.

They know what happened, and everyone knows what happened there.” Judge Juan M. Merchan decided the sentencing for July 11, a couple of days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where GOP leaders, who were resolute in their support in the aftermath of the verdict, are still expected to formally make him their nominee.

The verdict

In all fairness, it’s quite a stunning legal reckoning for Trump and might expose him to potential prison time in the city, where his ongoing manipulations of the tabloid press aided him in evolving from a real estate tycoon to a reality television star and ultimately, the president of the United States.

As he is currently trying to reclaim the White House in this year’s election, the judgment shows voters another test of their willingness to accept Trump’s boundary-breaking behavior.

Trump is expected to appeal the verdict. He might face an awkward dynamic as he resumes his campaign, tagged with plenty of convictions. There aren’t any campaign rallies on the calendar for the moment, even if he traveled Thursday evening to a fundraiser in Manhattan that was planned way before the verdict, according to three people familiar with his plans who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

He is also expected to appear Friday at Trump Tower and will keep fundraising next week. His campaign had already moved quite rapidly, raising money off the verdict and issuing a pitch that basically said he was a “political prisoner.”

The falsifying business records charges point towards four years behind bars, even if Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg wouldn’t say Thursday whether prosecutors proceed to seek imprisonment, and it’s still not clear whether the judge, who earlier in the trial mentioned jail time for gag order violations, would actually impose that punishment even if asked.

This conviction won’t bar Trump from continuing his pursuit. As a matter of fact, imprisonment won’t either.

For now, Trump faces three other felony indictments. However, the New York case might be the only one to reach a proper conclusion before the November election, which would add to the significance of the outcome. Even if the legal and historical implications of the verdict are somehow apparent, the political consequences are less evident.

For another candidate in any other context, a criminal conviction might have threatened a presidential run. But for Trump, apparently not. Why? Well, his political career already endured through two impeachments, allegations of sexual abuse, investigations into virtually everything from potential ties to Russia all the way to plotting to overturn an election, and personal salacious storylines, including the emergent recording in which he made inappropriate statements about women.

The case’s main allegations have also been known to voters for many years now, and somehow, they are widely seen as less grievous than the allegations he faces in all the other cases that charge him with subverting American democracy and mishandling national security secrets.

Before the verdict, Trump’s campaign focused on the fact that, no matter the jury’s decision, the outcome was unlikely to sway voters and that the election might be decided by issues like inflation.

politician Trump
Photo by Evan El-Amin from

However, the verdict is likely to give President Joe Biden and fellow Democrats enough space to sharpen arguments that Trump is totally unfit for office, even if the White House offered nothing but a muted statement that respected the rule of law.

At the same time, the decision will provide fodder for the GOP nominee to advance his unsupported claims that he is nothing but victimized by a criminal justice system he insists is completely motivated to go against him.

Throughout the trial, Trump maintained that he had done nothing wrong and that the case should never have been brought. This way, he railed against the proceedings from inside the courthouse, where he joined a parade of high-profile Republican allies and racked up fines for basically violating a gag order with out-of-court comments about witnesses.

Right after the verdict, Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, stated in television news interviews that he didn’t believe Trump got a fair trial and that the team might appeal based on the judge’s refusal to recuse himself because of what he might have suggested as pretrial publicity.

Republicans didn’t show any sign of loosening their embrace of the party leader, with House Speaker Mike Johnson stating that it was a “shameful day in American history.” He called the case “nothing but a political exercise, not a legal one.”

The first criminal trial of a former American president still presented a unique test of the court system, first of all because of Trump’s almighty prominence but also because of his relentless broadsides on the foundation of the case and its participants.

However, the verdict from the 12-person jury marked a repudiation of Trump’s efforts to undermine confidence in the proceedings or even to potentially impress the panel with a show of GOP support.

The other three local and federal cases in both Atlanta and Washington focused on his conspiracy attempts to overturn the 2020 election, but the federal indictment in Florida charging him with illegally hoarding top-secret records is now bogged down by delays or appeals.

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