Breaking: Donald Trump Becomes First Convicted Felon to Run as a Major Party Presumptive Nominee for President; What’s Next?

Donald Trump has been convicted on all 34 counts of the charges against him. He is the first former President convicted of any felony and the first major party candidate to run for office as a convicted felon. Trump will almost certainly appeal, and he may have some good grounds for appeal. But unless things are expedited, he will likely remain out of jail and awaiting a ruling on his appeal until after the election. (It would be unusual for things to be so expedited that we would get a ruling on any appeal before the November election, and almost certainly not from New York’s highest court or the Supreme Court.)

Legally, nothing changes with Trump’s status as a candidate. The Constitution contains only limited qualifications for running for office (being at least 35 years old, a natural born citizen, and at least 14 years a resident of the U.S.) States cannot disqualify him from running for his prior actions after the 2020 election thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Trump v. Anderson, and they cannot add qualifications such as removing convicted felons off the ballot.

Politically, who knows if anything changes? Donald Trump has managed to inoculate his supporters against bad news, even criminal convictions. Anyone who knows how this will play out politically knows more than I do.

The more important trial would be for election interference. And that trial is very unlikely to make it to trial before the election as the Supreme Court sits on his immunity appeal that has put the trial on hold.

I said in a recent LA Times oped, quoting Donald Rumsfeld, that you go to war with the army that you have, not the army that you want to have had. That’s what happened here. Trump should have faced trial for trying to subvert the 2020 election. That hasn’t happened and likely won’t. This was a relatively minor case, but still there was ample evidence of crimes of falsifying business records. (Whether they are felony crimes raises difficult election law issues that will likely be considered on appeal.) But unless things change on appeal, Trump is properly referred to as a “convicted felon” (at least once we get past sentencing), and that is extraordinary for American politics.

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