(CNN Spanish) — Former President Donald Trump was indicted on Tuesday on four criminal counts in the case of special counsel Jack Smith on efforts to nullify the 2020 elections, which led to the storming of the US Capitol. January 2021. It is the third time this year that the former president has faced criminal charges.
With Trump running for president and seeking the Republican Party nomination, the key question for 2024 is: can the former president be president if he is convicted of a crime?
The courts have not fully resolved this issue, but the general consensus is that neither an indictment nor a conviction would legally bar Trump from being elected.
Not only have convicted felons run for federal charges in the past, but at least one has done so with some success: Eugene Debs, a socialist candidate for the White House in the early 20th century, polled more than 900,000 votes in a presidential campaign. in 1920 which he carried out while imprisoned for an espionage conviction.
The reason why the general opinion is that a conviction would not prevent Trump’s attempt to return to the White House is the legal argument that only the Constitution sets the standards that candidates must meet to be president.
The magna carta establishes only three conditions for a person to be president, according to constitutional lawyer Rafael Penalver, consulted by CNN en Español: they must have been born in the United States, they must have resided in the country for at least 14 years and they must be 35 years or older.
UCLA law professor Richard L. Hasen, one of the nation’s leading experts on election law, said Trump still has a path to serve as president if he wins re-election in 2024.
“The Constitution has very few requirements to serve as president, such as being at least 35 years old. It doesn’t stop anyone accused, convicted, or even jailed from running for president and winning the presidency,” he said in an email to CNN.
Can a president serve from prison? That is less clear.
“How someone would serve as president from prison is a happily unproven question,” Hasen said.
“It’s pretty well accepted that the requirements to be president are listed in the Constitution,” Derek Muller, professor of Election Law at the University of Iowa School of Law, said in November 2022 in dialogue with CNN. “And the mere fact that having been convicted of a crime is not one of them, and states and Congress cannot add anything to those qualifications.”
“At no time does the Constitution say that having been convicted of a crime or having been prosecuted or even serving prison can prevent you from aspiring or serving as president,” says Penalver, in what he describes as a very “sui” trait. generis” of the North American country. In other words, according to the expert “theoretically it is feasible” that a person can govern even in an orange suit.
Muller, for his part, said “it could be a practical barrier, it could be a fundraising barrier,” but in all cases “these are political issues, not legal.”
What did Trump say about his intentions?
Trump announced in November his intention to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, in a bid to become the second president elected to two non-consecutive terms in the country.
The former president has said before that he “wouldn’t even think about dropping out” of the 2024 race if he were indicted.
Could Trump pardon himself or dismiss the case if he is found guilty?
The most recent criminal charges against Trump include: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official act, obstruction and attempt to obstruct an official act, and conspiracy against the rights of others.
Those add to a total of 40 counts in a separate federal indictment related to the special counsel’s investigation into the mishandling of classified documents, as well as 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in Manhattan related to an alleged fraud scheme. secret money payment and cover-up involving an adult film star.
If Trump were convicted before the 2024 election and won the race, he could try to grant himself a pardon, according to Hasen.
“It hasn’t been proven if he can do it. The Supreme Court may have to weigh in,” Hasen said, adding that Trump could appeal a conviction to the conservative Supreme Court.
Special counsel Jack Smith told reporters that he will seek a “speedy trial,” but if Trump is elected before the trial concludes, he may be able to rule it out altogether.
Robert Ray, a lawyer who defended Trump in his first impeachment trial, said in