Democrats are hell-bent on destroying Donald Trump. They despise him and will do whatever they can to prevent him from seeking a second term. Yet, despite their continued efforts to destroy the man who did so much for America during his first term in office, it is doubtful that Democrats can prevent him from running for office outright.
Democrats Have Engaged in Multiple Politicized Efforts to “Get” Trump
Democrats have been after Donald Trump since the day he announced his candidacy for president. They accused him of Russian collusion, violating the Emoluments Clause, violating campaign finance laws, and improperly paying “hush money” to various women. They impeached him over a perfectly legal telephone call with the president of Ukraine and impeached him a second time over the tragic incidents at the Capitol.
They also formed a highly partisan committee to “investigate” the Jan. 6 events, the sole purpose of which was to try to place the blame on Trump. Attorneys in Georgia and New York are also engaged in one or more politicized investigations relating to the 2020 election and/or Donald Trump’s real estate dealings.
The motivation behind these investigations is clear to all Americans. Democrats do not want Donald Trump to seek a second term and will do anything they can to prevent him from doing so, even if that means charging him with one or more alleged crimes out of sheer hatred. They are obsessed with President Trump and are willing to weaponize the nation’s justice system and various agencies for political purposes. Toward that end, some are speculating that Trump will be indicted at some point in the future. Even if this happens, and in the remote chance that President Trump is convicted, it is doubtful that Democrats can bar him from running.
A Conviction is Unlikely to Bar Trump from Running if He So Chooses
The Constitution is very clear about the qualifications for president. Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 specifically states:
“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
In other words, to be eligible, a person must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years old, and a resident of the United States for at least 14 years.
Despite the clear constitutional language, Democrats continue to engage in one or more politicized efforts to punish Donald Trump. Most recently, the FBI conducted a raid of President Trump’s personal residence without notice. When the warrant was subsequently released, the affidavits (which are vital) remained sealed, as discussed here.
At the present time, President Trump is being investigated for possible violations of various statutes. As reported by Foreign Policy:
“The warrant indicates that the former president is being investigated under suspicion of violating three separate statutes regarding the handling of sensitive government information, obstruction of justice, and potential violations of the Espionage Act regarding the gathering, transmitting, or losing of defense information.”
While many consider this raid a gross and politicized abuse of power, some predict that President Trump will be indicted at some point. Incidentally, if charges are filed, the warrant and subsequent search will likely be challenged on various legal grounds. After all, Democrats don’t want him to run for office. What better way to accomplish this than by charging him with one or more crimes?
Assuming for the sake of argument that President Trump is charged with violating one or more of these statutes and convicted (which would amount to a disgraceful use of the justice department as a political weapon), it is highly unlikely that Democrats could prevent him from running for president.
For example, some have pointed to 18 U.S.C. § 2071(b) for the proposition that President Trump could be barred from seeking office if convicted under this statute. The statute says:
“Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.”
However, a previous report written by Seth Barrett Tillman seriously questioned whether this section could disqualify a person from running for president. As Tillman noted:
“Michael B. Mukasey, a former Attorney General of the United States and former Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, has stated on several occasions that if Hillary Clinton, a former Secretary of State and former senator, is convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 2071, then she is disqualified from holding the presidency.
It is widely accepted that the Supreme Court’s decisions in Powell v. McCormack and U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton have come to stand for the proposition that neither Congress nor the States can add to the express textual qualifications for House and Senate seats in Article I. Importantly, the rationale of Powell and U.S. Term Limits, Inc.—i.e., the primacy of the written Constitution’s express provisions setting fixed textual qualifications—equally applies to the qualifications for the presidency (and vice presidency) in Article II. Indeed, this extension of Powell and U.S. Term Limits, Inc. appears uncontroversial.”
In other words, Tillman argues that the constitutional qualifications for president are exclusive and that Congress has no authority to add additional qualifications except when specifically authorized to do so. As a matter of fact, even the New York Times recently admitted that efforts to disqualify President Trump from holding office pursuant to this statute would likely be an uphill battle. Other experts agreed.
A conviction under the Espionage Act or other law/statute would likely fare no better. Specifically, the Constitution does not prohibit felons from running for president. As reported by Poynter:
“Lyndon LaRouche was convicted in 1988 of tax and mail fraud conspiracy and ran for president multiple times between 1976 and 2004. Eugene Debs, convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 for an anti-war speech, was in a federal prison when he ran for president as a socialist in 1920. Debs’ supporters handed out campaign buttons for ‘Prisoner 9653.'”
Ultimately, there is very little that Democrats can do to bar President Trump from running, should he choose to do so. If Garland or other liberal prosecutors file charges that ultimately result in a conviction, President Trump would likely still be eligible to run for office.
Most Americans have caught on to the Democrats’ obsession with destroying Donald Trump. They will do whatever they can to prevent him from running, which explains why they impeached President Trump twice and why the Jan. 6 “partisan committee” so desperately wants to push the narrative that President Trump is guilty of “insurrection or rebellion.” A finding of this nature could allow Congress to bar him from running for office pursuant to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars public officials from serving in any future federal, state, or military office if they engaged in “insurrection or rebellion.”
Absent such a finding, which is highly unlikely, it is doubtful that Democrats can prevent him from running. They can make a potential run much more difficult and burdensome, but they probably will not be able to bar him outright.
Mr. Hakim is an attorney and columnist. His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, American Thinker, and other online publications. He is also a regular guest on OANN’s Tipping Point, and has appeared on Newsmax, The Jenna Ellis Show, Steadfast and Loyal Podcast with Allen West, The Dave Weinbaum Show, and Real America’s Voice. The views expressed herein are the author’s own and do not constitute legal advice.