A Manhattan grand jury, investigating former President Donald Trump over a hush money payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels, has indicted him on criminal charges related to misstating the purpose of the payment. (This can be considered a felony if it is done to hide another crime.) This makes Trump the first former president in U.S. history to be charged with a crime. Trump also faces criminal probes by the Fulton County district attorney in Atlanta and the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
The Department of Justice probe comes on the heels of the unprecedented FBI-executed search warrant in August 2022, of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida which resulted in the seizure of boxes of government documents, some labeled "top secret." According to federal statute 18 U.S. Code § 2071, anyone found in possession of top-secret files would not only be subject to fines and jail time but would also "be disqualified from holding any office under the United States."
So, what does that mean for Trump, who is running for president again in 2024? If Trump is indicted on criminal charges, wouldn't he receive a lifetime ban from the White House?
Not so fast, say legal experts.
Under the U.S. Constitution, which lays out the qualifications for holding the nation's highest office, the only limitations are you must be a U.S. citizen and at least 35 years old. It's really hard to disqualify someone from running for president, even a convicted criminal.