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Trump Verdict FAQ: Navigating the Post-Conviction Confusion

From voting to representing America abroad – what would being a felon mean for a second Trump term?

For the first time in American history, a former president – who also happens to be a current candidate – has been convicted on felony charges. This puts the nation in an unprecedented electoral situation and brings up many questions that have never before needed answering. Some are clear-cut; others not so much. Liberty Nation explores both kinds in a list of frequently asked questions – a Trump Verdict FAQ, if you will. From voting to representing America abroad, what will being a felon mean for Donald Trump if he wins a second term?

Can Trump still Run? Can He Pardon Himself?

As we navigate the post-conviction confusion, let’s begin with perhaps the two most straightforward questions to answer: Can Donald Trump still run for president as a convicted felon, and can he pardon himself if he wins? The short answers are yes and no – in this case – respectively.

The US Constitution outlines eligibility requirements for a potential president, and nothing short of an amendment can change that. To mount a campaign for the Oval Office, one need only be a natural-born citizen of the United States who has lived in this nation for the last 14 years and is 35 or older. Since presidential term limits are also built into the Constitution thanks to the 22nd Amendment, no one who has served two terms can run again – but that rule doesn’t apply to Trump, who lost re-election after his first to the current president, Joe Biden. And this particular question isn’t even new. In 1920, former Democrat and founder of the Socialist Party Eugene V. Debs ran for president – and won nearly a million votes – as a convicted felon who was at that time incarcerated on a ten-year prison sentence. He didn’t win, but that’s hardly the point. He was legally allowed to run.

So, if the former president is constitutionally allowed to reclaim his job, could he simply pardon himself and clear this whole mess up? The answer would be yes if this case had been federal. However, as this was a state case in New York, only the governor of New York can issue a pardon – something the anti-Trump Democrat Kathy Hochul seems highly unlikely to do.

Can He Still Vote?

Another side-effect of a felony conviction is often the loss of voting rights – and, while his single vote wouldn’t make much difference to the outcome, there’s a remarkable irony to a person running for office who can’t even vote for himself. So can he? The answer to this question is a bit more nuanced. Voting laws vary by state. In Florida, where the former president is registered to vote, a convicted felon is allowed to vote as long as they aren’t presently incarcerated and have completed the terms of their sentence – meaning that any fines, restitution, community service, or time on parole or probation must also be completely satisfied.

However, the Sunshine State also defers to the laws of other states when Floridians are convicted of crimes elsewhere. New York only stops felons from voting if they’re in prison on Election Day. So, if Trump is sentenced to anything but prison time – or if his sentence is deferred or delayed for any reason – he should be able to vote, even in Florida.

Alternatively, the former president could petition to have his voting rights restored in Florida through executive clemency, which would require the approval of Governor Ron DeSantis and two state cabinet members. A felon is allowed to seek this restoration of voting rights even if the conviction came from another state, and Trump might pursue this option just to alleviate any lingering questions.

Can He Visit Countries That Ban Felons?

As a convicted felon, Donald Trump may be refused entry to as many as 38 countries. While many of these countries, like Iran, probably aren’t likely to be found on his travel itinerary, some could be problematic. Japan, Israel, Canada, and the United Kingdom all forbid entry by foreign felons, as do China, Australia, and many more.

New banner Liberty Nation Analysis 1If Mr. Trump loses the election in November, he’ll likely be banned from those countries indefinitely – unless a special exception is made for a former president. But if he wins and reclaims the White House, those exceptions seem more likely to occur.

George W. Bush famously had to apply for a waiver to enter Canada for an official state visit once because of a 1976 drunk driving charge to which he pled guilty. It was a misdemeanor, not a felony, but still, he had to apply for the waiver. Canada will host the G7 summit in 2025. Would our neighbor to the north deny a sitting US president entry for such an event? Well, if that president is Trump and the Canadian leader is Justin Trudeau or someone like him, perhaps.

What Happens to the Other Cases If He’s Elected?

As explained by a Nixon-era policy memo, the Justice Department does not indict sitting presidents. This policy and the reason behind it—that doing so would interfere with the president’s ability to perform his duties—would seem applicable from the moment Trump is declared the winner of the general election, should it go that way.

Another way of looking at it is that the DOJ is led by the attorney general – who is appointed by and can be replaced by the president. A Trump-appointed AG seems unlikely to do anything other than drop the two federal cases against Trump.

Did the Trump Verdict Bring Unity to the GOP?

Polling in the wake of the Trump trial shows the conviction was something of a mixed bag. Most people – regardless of political party – have their minds made up and say this conviction changes nothing; they’re either for or against Trump, whether he was found guilty or not. A poll from NPR showed that 15% of independents said the conviction made them more likely to vote for Trump, while 11% said it made them less likely to – that’s a net gain for the former president, not a loss.

Another poll from Morning Consult showed that just 15% of Republican voters – and only 8% of self-proclaimed Trump supporters – said he should drop his campaign, meaning that the vast majority of the people who were going to vote for him before probably still are. A Reuters/Ipsos survey showed that 56% of Republican voters said the conviction doesn’t change their vote, while 35% said it would make them more likely to support him.

Polling aside, people are already voting with their money. Hours after the conviction, the Trump campaign’s donation site crashed due to heavy traffic. Over the 24 hours immediately after the trial, Donald Trump raised almost $53 million – much of that comes from small-dollar and even first-time donors. Not all donors are small, though, as wealthy business owners are also backing Trump. Shaun Maguire, a partner at Sequoia Capital, immediately donated $300,000, a move applauded by other corporate leaders like David Sacks of Craft Ventures and even Elon Musk. The conviction also proved to move multi-billionaire casino magnate Miriam Adelson off the fence. Adelson, who bankrolled a pro-Trump super PAC in 2020 to the tune of about $90 million, has now reportedly pledged $100 million to the PAC, Preserve America, on behalf of Trump in the 2024 election.

The Trump verdict also seems to have galvanized support for the former president among Republicans in Congress – even many who previously had supported other candidates. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, for example, had distanced himself from Trump in the wake of January 6, 2021, but he reversed course after the conviction, saying, “this verdict is a disgrace, and this trial should never have happened.” Additionally, eight Republican senators vowed Saturday to oppose any increase to DOJ funding and all of Biden’s nominees in response. While it may not have been one of the most frequently asked, this question remains: Did the Trump verdict bring unity to the GOP? Right now, the answer certainly seems to be yes. As Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) put it: “Congratulations, progressives, you’ve just guaranteed Trump’s election.”

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