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Can Trump be president despite his criminal conviction?


As former President Donald Trump faces a criminal conviction for concealing a hush money payment to an adult film star, questions arise about his eligibility to run for president again.

The U.S. Constitution outlines specific requirements for presidential candidates, but criminal convictions are not explicitly addressed, leading to speculation about whether Trump could legally hold office if he wins the 2024 election.

The U.S. Constitution requires that a presidential candidate be at least 35 years old, and a resident of the United States for at least 14 years. It does not mention criminal convictions as a disqualification, which means that, legally, Trump can run for president despite his conviction.

There are historical precedents for candidates running for office while facing legal issues. As highlighted in a Reuters report, Eugene V. Debs, a five-time Socialist Party candidate, ran for president in 1920 while imprisoned for anti-war activism.

Debs received nearly a million votes despite his incarceration, showing that legal troubles do not necessarily preclude a presidential bid.

It is not yet known what sentence, if any, the judge will determine. As a first-time offender convicted of a nonviolent crime, Trump is unlikely to face prison time, the report states.

In New York, individuals with no prior criminal history who are convicted only of falsifying business records typically receive punishments such as fines or probation. The maximum sentence for Trump’s crime is between one and one-third to four years in prison, but those sentenced to prison time for similar offenses usually serve a year or less.

If sentenced beyond a fine, Trump might be placed under home confinement or subjected to a curfew rather than imprisonment. As a former president with lifetime Secret Service protection, ensuring his safety in prison would be complex from a logistical point of view.

Alternatively, Trump could also be released on bail while appealing his conviction.

Although the hush money case is considered the least significant of the four criminal prosecutions Trump faces, the guilty verdict could impact the election.

Opinion polls suggest a conviction could cost him votes, particularly in tightly contested battleground states. According to an April Reuters/Ipsos poll, one in four Republicans said they would not vote for Trump if he were found guilty in a criminal trial, and 60% of independents indicated they would not support him if convicted.

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