Former President Donald Trump can still continue to run for president in 2024 after he announced that he’s being federally indicted on charges relating to whether he mishandled classified records, according to legal experts.
After Trump was charged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office earlier this year in a separate case, some noted that the U.S. Constitution only requires that a candidate be a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, and be a resident of the United States for at least 14 years. Retired Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz told The Epoch Times in March that Trump could run—and serve—”from prison” if he is convicted and sentenced.
“The only way he can be disqualified is if they can prove that he actually fought in the Civil War for the South. If he fought for the Civil War in the south, he’s out,” Dershowitz told The Epoch Times. “But other than that, if he’s 35 years old, was born in America, and didn’t fight in the Civil War to the south. He’s eligible. And [can] run from prison.”
Dershowitz was referring to the 14th Amendment’s “disqualification clause” that targeted former Confederate soldiers who fought in the Civil War in the mid-19th century.
“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State,” the clause reads, in part, “to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
And another law professor, Richard Hasen, of the University of California-Los Angeles, told CNN on Friday that there is “nothing” that “stops Trump from running while indicted, or even convicted.”
“Legally speaking, there is nothing to bar a former president from being indicted for a state crime, running for office—even convicted,” said Jessica Levinson, founding director of Loyola Law School’s Public Service Institute, told USA Today. “It really just becomes an issue of, practically, how could you run the country behind bars, if ever came to something like that?”
On Thursday evening, Trump announced via social media that he was being indicted on charges of allegedly mishandling classified documents, although the indictment hasn’t been unsealed. The Justice Department did not immediately publicly confirm the indictment, and any charges were not publicly filed.
Trump’s lawyer James Trusty said Thursday on CNN that the indictment includes charges of willful retention of national defense information, obstruction of justice, false statements, and conspiracy. Trump has categorically denied the charges and said it’s an attempt to interfere in the 2024 election.
Trump, on his Truth Social platform, called it “a DARK DAY for the United States of America.” In a video post, he said, “I’m innocent and we will prove that very, very soundly and hopefully very quickly.”
Trump said he’d been summoned to appear in court Tuesday afternoon in Miami. It wasn’t immediately clear if Trump planned to make the appearance and what the procedure would look like.
New York Case
When Trump was charged by the Manhattan district attorney in New York with falsifying business records, he surrendered to authorities, where he was booked behind closed doors and appeared in the courtroom, sitting with his lawyers at the defense table. In that case, Trump pleaded not guilty, while some observers—like Dershowitz—noted that the grand jury pool likely skewed politically left.
The charges came after federal officials raided Mar-a-Lago in August 2022 and seized more than 33 boxes and containers totaling 11,000 documents from a storage room and an office, including 100 classified documents. In all, roughly 300 documents with classification markings have been recovered from Trump since he left office in January 2021, prosecutors said.
Weeks after that, Attorney General Merrick Garland picked Jack Smith to lead investigations into the presence of classified documents at Trump’s Florida estate, as well as key aspects of a separate probe involving the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the Capitol.
In a statement after the announcement, Smith last year said he would conduct the investigations “independently and in the best traditions of the Department of Justice.”
“The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch. I will exercise independent judgment and will move the investigations forward expeditiously and thoroughly to whatever outcome the facts and the law dictate,” Smith remarked at the time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times