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8 ways convicted felon Donald Trump doesn’t become president

Now that Donald Trump has been found guilty of 34 felony counts of fraud by a New York jury, his orange armor has been pierced, his political impunity damaged.

But how much?

Trump will appeal the jury’s decision, but if it’s upheld, it could cost the former president his freedom — and support. Sentencing is July 11, four days before the Republican Convention begins in Milwaukee, Wis. Penalties range from fines to supervised probation to home detention to prison.

An ABC/Ipsos poll in early May said one-fifth of Trump voters would either reconsider or withdraw their support if he’s convicted of a felony. In the Marist poll, released May 30, before the verdict, 67 percent of respondents said a guilty verdict would not affect their choice for president and 17 percent said they would be less likely to vote for Trump. About 15 percent said they would be more likely to vote for Trump if he’s a convicted felon.

It remains to be seen how voters will react to court testimony revealing salacious details of Trump’s private life, including the alleged liaison with former porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Before the verdict, Amani Wells-Onyioha, operations director at Democratic political firm Sole Strategies, said, “He is a tank. He is a boulder. I don’t think there is literally anything that can happen to this man that would make him lose because he has such a chokehold on the Republican Party.”

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The boulder became larger in March. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that states — such as Colorado, which tried — could not use the 14th Amendment to keep Trump off the ballot.

Trump still faces 54 felony charges across three other court cases, two federal and one in Georgia.

The pending cases against Trump are moving slowly, rewarding Trump’s delay tactics. The New York trial might have been the only time he sits in court as a defendant before November’s election.

Before the verdict in New York, Nicholas Creel, assistant professor of business law at Georgia College and State University, considered the possibility of jail time for Trump.

“When we get to the hypothetical point of him needing to take office, we’ve got to figure out now, is he actually above the law, Creel said. “The Supreme Court will have to step in.”

“There is a very, very real possibility that a Supreme Court majority — probably a five-four ruling — could say you still have to face the music, Mr. President, and if we enter political paralysis, that’s because we have chosen that you would be the president in prison,” Creel continued.

Here are eight scenarios — from the plausible to the unlikely — where Trump does not return to the presidency no matter the result of the 2024 presidential election:

Trump falls gravely ill or dies of natural causes

When Americans discuss age and the presidency, it’s usually about Biden, the nation’s first octogenarian commander-in-chief who will be 82 years old on Inauguration Day 2025.

But Trump, 77, is not a young man, either.

Trump turns 78 on June 14. If elected president this year, Trump would become the oldest president in history at the time he took office, surpassing Biden.

The average age of death for a man who’s served as president of the United States is about 72 years old, according to Statista, and only 12 out of the 45 U.S. presidents have lived to celebrate their 80th birthday.

So while the topic itself is grim, even uncouth, the odds of Trump falling gravely ill or dying before Election Day 2024 are not insignificant.

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What would happen next upon either scenario would largely be a function of the point in time Trump stopped running.

Elaine Kamarck of the Brookings Institution, author of “Primary Politics: Everything you need to know about how America nominates its presidential candidates,” notes that state election officials are allowed to adjust filing deadlines for new candidates if the frontrunner dies or is incapacitated. For some of the states that haven’t yet conducted their nominating contests, they could also move back their primaries.

If Trump couldn’t continue after becoming the presumptive 2024 presidential nominee, the nation would almost certainly gird for a brokered Republican National Convention.

And if Trump officially secured the GOP nomination, but couldn’t stand for election in November 2024, a select group of Republican Party bigwigs would likely convene to choose a replacement — whether that was Trump’s yet-to-be-named vice presidential running mate, or someone else.

Trump is removed via the 25th Amendment

The Constitution’s 25th Amendment spells out the succession plan if a president dies or is removed from office, which means the vice president takes over.

If the vice president and his cabinet determine that the president is unable to discharge his duties as president — say, being in prison — Congress will have 48 hours to convene and 21 days to decide if the president is fit to hold office. It can remove him by a two-thirds vote.

“You can even see his cabinet exercising the 25th Amendment, saying, look, you’re incapacitated. You’re not capable because you’re needing to go to prison or are in prison. You’re not capable of fulfilling the oath of office, therefore, we’re invoking [the] 25th Amendment and removing you from office that way, and so you would see whoever his vice president elect is [at] that point stepping up,” Creel said.

If Trump wins the 2024 election, the Supreme Court will ultimately need to decide if a sitting president is immune from state-level prosecution in Georgia, and the Court might rule against his ability to serve as president. The other two pending cases are in federal court.

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“Functionally this would mean Trump is the legitimate president but would still be forced to carry out a sentence in a state prison,” Creel said. “In that scenario, it’s difficult to see how he wouldn’t be either impeached and convicted or otherwise removed via the 25th Amendment due to his ‘incapacity.’”

But with a third of the Supreme Court being Trump appointees, Svante Myrick, president of People For the American Way and former mayor of Ithaca, N.Y., said he could see the Court ruling in Trump’s favor and allowing him to serve any legal consequences at a later time.

“Uncharted legal territory with stakes this high means questions like that usually get kicked up to the Supreme Court. Given that Donald Trump appointed three members of the Supreme Court on a six-person ultra-conservative majority, I think the most likely scenario is that he’s allowed to stand for office, and if he wins, he could avoid or at least delay paying his debt to society,” Myrick said.

The 25th Amendment could also be used for a president’s mental competence.

While Trump attacks Biden for being “cognitively impaired,” Trump isn’t always sharp himself. He fall asleep often during the New York trial, according to observers in the courtroom, and has frequently slurred words or botched facts on the campaign trail. Trump said last year Biden would lead the U.S. into “World War II” and, in the same speech, said he was leading former President Barack Obama in polls for the 2024 election.

Trump loses the GOP nomination in a floor fight

Before the verdict, Republicans were saying there’s effectively no chance of this, according to NBC News.

Morton Blackwell, a member of the Republican National Committee’s convention rules committee since 1988, said convention rules can be changed but it won’t happen — “absent a cement truck coming around the corner and killing the nominee.”

But conspiracy theorists who are dedicated to eliminating what they call “the deep state” feared guilty verdicts in New York being used as a pretext to replace Trump with Haley as the nominee.

Trump flees the country

As George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley wrote, Trump “is one of the most recognized figures in the world. He would have to go to Mars to live incognito. It is facially absurd.”

As outlandish as it may sound, Trump could theoretically find refuge from legal threats in a country that’s not so friendly to the United States — but potentially friendly to Trump.

Think Russia. Saudi Arabia. Even — dare one say it — North Korea. Unlike most people in legal peril, Trump has massive amounts of money and the physical means — specifically, his own “Trump Force One” Boeing 757 — to get to a place beyond the reach of special counsel Jack Smith, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis or the U.S. justice system, writ large.

Trump ally Tucker Carlson, it’s worth noting, was welcomed by Russia to interview President Vladimir Putin at a time when the Russian government has for months detained two American journalists — the Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich and Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty editor Alsu Kurmasheva. News organizations and press freedom advocates have roundly condemned the detentions as unjust, with the Wall Street Journal saying that Russia has arbitrarily and wrongfully detained” Gershkovich “for doing his job as a journalist.”

Trump and his private Boeing 757. Mandel Ngan/AFP

And in addition to the Russias and Chinas of the world, there are dozens of other nations that don’t have extradition treaties with the United States, which makes it extremely difficult for the U.S. law enforcement officials to spirit a wanted man into custody and back to American soil.

Of course, such a drastic move by Trump would all but guarantee that he could never again return to the United States as a free man.

But Trump has well-established business ties in numerous foreign countries and could ostensibly live like a fugitive king in a welcoming nation.

And in October 2020, days before the election he wouldn’t win, Trump himself floated the idea of becoming an ex-pat: “Could you imagine if I lose? I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country, I don’t know.”

Said Wells-Onyioha: “If he doesn’t want to face charges, I can see him attempting to flee. Trump genuinely feels like the rules don’t apply to him, so I think that there’s nothing that he won’t do. I don’t think he wants to face any accountability or any repercussions for any of the things that he’s done thus far, so I can see him trying to flee.”

In actuality, it’s much more likely that Trump’s legal team will continue bids to delay the court proceedings as long as possible.

“(Trump) can tie the legal system up for a long time, so that’s what I suspect he’ll end up doing,” said John Geer, dean of the college of arts and science and professor of political science and public policy and education at Vanderbilt University.

A judge fined Trump $454 million, including interest, earlier this year after finding he committed fraud involving his business interests in New York. He is appealing the decision.

Last month, Trump lost an appeal for a new trial after being hit with an $83.3 million verdict by a jury. The jury found Trump liable for defaming writer E. Jean Carroll — for a second time — about what a previous jury determined was sexual assault.

A trial date has not been set on federal election subversion charges against Trump. The judge is waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on Trump’s claim of absolute immunity for official acts while he was president. A federal appeals court unanimously found no such privilege.

There is also no start date for Trump’s federal trial on charges of illegally retaining classified documents after he left the White House. Critics of Judge Aileen Cannon say she is moving much too slowly on procedural issues that could have been settled faster. That leaves only a slim chance of a trial starting before the election.

A Georgia election interference case against Trump is delayed as he appeals a court decision allowing prosecutor Fani Willis to remain on the case. Trump’s lawyers argue that her romantic relationship with the prosecutor she hired to take the lead in prosecuting Trump was misconduct.

Trump dies from assassination

Even more grim is the specter of assassination, an ever-present specter for presidents and presidential candidates alike.

Four presidents — John F. Kennedy, William McKinley, James Garfield and Abraham Lincoln — died after being shot.

Ronald Reagan, in 1981, could have been the fifth assassinated president but for the quick reactions of law enforcement and medical personnel. Last August, while attempting to serve a warrant, FBI agents shot and killed a Utah man who had allegedly made “credible” threats against Biden.

High-profile presidential candidates also come under threat.

The most notable modern example is that of Robert F. Kennedy, who died in 1968 after being shot at a campaign event. (Kennedy’s son, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is now running for president as an independent, and he has publicly stated that he believes his father’s convicted killer isn’t the man who committed the crime.)

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he arrives at the Manhattan Criminal Court on April 4, 2023 in New York City, surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents. Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Theodore Roosevelt, then a former president attempting a comeback, survived being shot in the chest during a campaign event in 1912.

Trump, like every past president and many presidential candidates, receives U.S. Secret Service protection and will ostensibly be entitled to such protection even if he’s convicted of a crime and sent to prison or home detention.

There are several known plots — all foiled — that involved attempts to assassinate or otherwise harm Trump.

Trump agrees to quit the race before Election Day

This seems unlikely considering how far Trump has come and his standing with voters a little more than five months before the election.

Avoiding jail or prison time, however, could affect Trump’s thinking. Some observers don’t believe his comments about being ready to go to jail.

With Trump facing state charges in Georgia, and having been convicted in New York, he wouldn’t be able to escape by pardoning himself as president — something he could attempt to do for the federal-level charges he faces. Therefore, Trump’s calculus may change.

Creel noted Spiro Agnew’s resignation from the vice presidency in 1973 after facing the threat of jail for his corruption while governor of Maryland.

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“One of the parts of the agreement was [to] resign, get out of politics forever, and we will not pursue this,” he said. “So with a more rational defendant, that would absolutely be something that’s on the table. That’s something Jack Smith would be bringing to Trump, but for one, we’re not dealing with a particularly rational individual. Two, this scenario is significantly different in that we have state-level charges also facing him. And so because they can’t really immunize him against that at the state level, the incentive to take that sort of a deal is greatly diminished.”

Wells-Onyioha said Trump maybe – maybe – would come to the realization that prison, and the potential life-long loss of his freedom, is a real and unpalatable possibility.

“I can see them coming up with some sort of like plea agreement, where in exchange for dropping out of the race, they will let him be on probation or something like that,” she said. “I can see that happening. But even so, I’m not even sure if he would take that deal.”

Trump is impeached for a third time, then convicted and disqualified from serving as president

If the Supreme Court does say “nobody’s above the law, and that includes the president” and lets the criminal justice system do its work, Creel said, Trump could still be disqualified from the presidency via the political system.

“We have a blueprint for how to do that. Impeachment. Conviction. Removal. That’s how you could do it, and so you can see him taking office and having that avenue, where he’s president for a day and then they just kind of have this perfunctory removal,” Creel said.

Trump was twice impeached while in office, but was acquitted on all counts by the Senate in both cases.

Congress could technically impeach Trump now with the goal of simply disqualifying him from running for elected office. Recall that Trump’s second impeachment trial took place several weeks after he left the White House and was no longer president.

But with Republicans currently controlling the House, where any impeachment proceeding would begin, such a scenario is exceedingly remote.

Trump accepts pardon promise with the understanding that he’ll quit the race

An exotic and unlikely scenario is Biden pardoning Trump with the understanding that Trump will quit the presidential race.

Biden, who has recently stepped up his criticism of Trump, has never spoken of such an idea. And a president may only pardon someone or commute a sentence for federal-level convictions.

A most imperfect historical parallel would be President Gerald Ford’s pardoning of President Richard Nixon after Nixon resigned amid the Watergate scandal.

But there’s no evidence Ford’s pardon involved either an overt or secret quid pro quo, according to the National Constitution Center, and came only after Nixon had officially stepped down.

There’s precedent that presidents don’t have full legal immunity — look at the 1997 Supreme Court ruling in Clinton v. Jones, Creel says — but Trump could be still allowed to serve any prison time post-presidency if convicted and sentenced for any of the 88 charges.

That would require the Supreme Court ruling that Trump couldn’t have his presidential duties interfered with by state level charges.

“We have to just set them aside to the point where he could realistically, in that scenario if that’s what the Supreme Court says, be told January 20, at 12:01 p.m., 2029, report for incarceration in the state of Georgia,” Creel said. “That’s an actual realistic possibility that could go his way.”

Source: Raw Story – Celebrating 20 Years of Independent Journalism

TruthPukes Take:

  • The average age of death for a man who’s served as president of the United States is about 72 years old, according to Statista, and only 12 out of the 45 U.
  • In the Marist poll, released May 30, before the verdict, 67 percent of respondents said a guilty verdict would not affect their choice for president and 17 percent said they would be less likely to vote for Trump.
  • Here are eight scenarios — from the plausible to the unlikely — where Trump does not return to the presidency no matter the result of the 2024 presidential election.
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