Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said that if Democrats were hoping to disqualify former President Donald Trump from another White House run in 2024 through a criminal conviction, that strategy will not work.
Last week, FBI agents raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida, after presenting a warrant stating they were looking for classified documents the 45th president allegedly had in his possession.
“There are efforts now to disqualify President Trump from being leader of his party and from running for re-election,” Dershowitz told Megyn Kelly in an episode of “The Megyn Kelly Show” posted last week.
“Some Democratic leaders have made up a story saying that if he were guilty of some crime like [mishandling] classified information, he couldn’t run,” he added.
“The Constitution provides only four reasons a person can’t run. He has to be over 35. He has to be born in America. He has to have not fought in the Civil War as part of an insurrection, and he has to be impeached with the impeachment-plus disqualification,” Dershowitz said.
“The Constitution provides the criteria for president, not Democrats in the legislature. So the effort to try to disqualify him is absolutely going to fail,” said Dershowitz, who represented Trump during his first impeachment trial before the U.S. Senate.
Harmeet Dhillon — chairwoman of The Republican National Lawyers Association — argued given the vast breadth of the U.S. Code, the Department of Justice could dig up a crime on whomever they want, if that were all that was needed to prevent someone from running for president.
“It is very easy for federal prosecutors to make up a case and if they are hacks, and enabled by judicial hacks, able to get an indictment,” she said.
Dershowitz agreed and added, “Lavrentiy Beria, the head of the KGB went to Stalin one day and said, ‘Stalin, show me the man, and I’ll find you the crime.’ That’s what’s going on,” with regards to Trump.
The left-leaning fact-checker Politifact looked specifically if Trump could be barred from office for mishandling classified material under the provisions of 18 U.S. Code 2071, but said multiple legal experts think he couldn’t.
The law states, in part, that someone convicted of breaking the law “shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.”
Politifact cited Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, who wrote, “That statute cannot trump the Constitution, which sets the exclusive qualifications for President.”
“So this is not a path to making Trump legally ineligible to run for office,” Hasen concluded.
Politifact further noted, “Previous Supreme Court rulings hold that a state cannot prohibit indicted or convicted felons from running for federal office, and Congress cannot add qualifications to the office of president, said Derek Muller, a law professor at the University of Iowa.”
Trump has responded to the Mar-a-Lago raid with multiple posts on Truth Social.
— Michael Austin (@mikeswriting) August 15, 2022
“Wow! In the raid by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else. This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World!” he wrote on Monday.
“America has never suffered this kind of ABUSE in Law Enforcement! For the FBI to RAID the home of the 45 President of the United States, or any President for that matter, is totally unheard of and unthinkable,” Trump added in a Sunday post.
“This Break In was a sneak attack on democracy (our Republic!), and was both unannounced and done at a time when the President was not even present. It was for political, not legal reasons, and our entire Country is angry, hurt, and greatly embarrassed by it. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”