Could Donald Trump serve as president if convicted? What to know after 3rd indictment

Trump remains the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

ByZachary B. Wolf and Jack Forrest, CNN, CNNWire
Thursday, August 3, 2023
Trump due in  court Thursday for 2020 election indictment
Former President Donald Trump will appear in court Thursday for charges related to his attempt ot overthrow the 2020 eleciton.

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump has been indicted on federal charges related to 2020 election subversion, a stunning third time this year that the former president has faced criminal charges.

But could the former president, who remains the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, assume the Oval Office again if convicted of the alleged crimes? In short, yes.

University of California, Los Angeles law professor Richard L. Hasen - one of the country's leading experts on election law - said Trump still has a path to serving as president should he win reelection in 2024.

"The Constitution has very few requirements to serve as President, such as being at least 35 years of age. It does not bar anyone indicted, or convicted, or even serving jail time, from running as president and winning the presidency," he said in an email to CNN.

Could a president serve from prison? That's less clear.

"How someone would serve as president from prison is a happily untested question," Hasen said.

Could Trump pardon himself or dismiss the case if convicted?

The newest criminal counts against Trump include: conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights.

Those are in addition 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 criminal charges of falsifying business records in Manhattan related to an alleged hush money payment scheme and cover-up involving an adult film star.

If Trump were to be convicted before the 2024 election and win the contest, he could try to grant himself a pardon, according to Hasen.

"Whether he can do so is untested. The Supreme Court may have to weigh in," Hasen said, adding that Trump could potentially appeal a conviction to the conservative Supreme Court.

A Trump Justice Department could dismiss case

Special counsel Jack Smith told reporters that he will seek a "speedy trial," but if Trump was to be elected before a trial concluded, he may be able dismiss it entirely.

Robert Ray, an attorney who defended Trump in his first impeachment trial, said on CNN following Trump's June indictment in the classified documents case that the former president "would control the Justice Department" if reelected, adding that if the documents case was pending at that time, "he just dismisses the case."

Asked about the latest indictment, Trump defense attorney John Lauro told CNN's Kaitlan Collins he thinks a potential trial could last "nine months or a year."

Lauro said he will need to see the evidence but that his client deserves as much time as any other American. "Every single person in the United States is entitled to due process, including the former president," he said.

Could Trump vote if convicted?

If Trump is convicted of a felony at the federal level or in New York, he would be barred from voting in his adoptive home state of Florida, at least until he had served out a potential sentence.

The-CNN-Wire & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.