Sean Hannity, an old friend of Donald Trump’s who accordingly has his back, posed a premise Monday that could set the table for a constitutional crisis should Trump be convicted of a felony and run for the presidency in 2024 anyway.
Speaking with on Premiere Radio Network’s “The Sean Hannity Show,” Hannity pointed out that the Constitution does not bar felons from holding the presidency and sets the limits for the office to only being born in the United States and being at least 35 years old.
“Being a felon is not a disqualification,” Hannity said. “So even crimes potentially far more serious than what is being alleged, potential mishandling of classified information, doesn’t stop somebody from seeking the presidency.”
Hannity was correct – according to the Poynter Institute — that federal law does not prohibit a felon from “holding office in the United States.”
“If they think that they’re going to somehow make this about Donald Trump and prevent him from running from office, well they obviously have not read something called the Constitution,” Hannity said. “Because the Constitution is pretty clear on what qualifies one to be able to run for president.
“In other words, even if Section 2071 in the federal penal code has penalty provisions upon the conviction that a defendant shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States,” Hannity continued. “OK, but we do have something called the Constitution. And the qualifications for one to be president of the United States that is very clear and enumerated. And you can’t alter it by any statute precisely because our framers in their wisdom didn’t want the executive branch dominated by the legislature, as would happen if Congress could disqualify any incumbent or potential president simply by passing a law.”
Trump, whose Mar-a-Lago estate was raided by the FBI last Monday, is under investigation for possible violations of the Espionage Act tied to the mishandling of national defense information and classified material. Federal agents seized 11 sets of classified records from the Florida resort, including some marked as “top secret” and others meant to be available only in special government facilities – not a former president’s home.
Hannity said that a conviction of impeachment did constitutionally disqualify someone from running for office. Trump was of course impeached by the U.S. House twice. Both times, the Senate did not convict him.
“Again, that’s prescribed by the Constitution. You can’t change that by a mere statute. So I’m not sure exactly where they’re headed with all of this,” Hannity said.
Benjamin Lindsay contributed to this report.