Donald Trump made history in becoming the first president in US history to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives. But while losing to Joe Biden in November 2020 may have dented the one-term president’s pride and fuelled 18-months of lies about rigged ballot boxes, it now seems almost certain that Mr Trump will run again for the White House in 2024.
Mr Trump has not stopped fundraising since moving from Washington DC to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, amassing a war chest of well over $100m with which he can help boost Republicans who backed his “Big Lie” to defeat those in the GOP who did not.
And Mr Trump has been back out on the road this year ahead of the midterm elections. He’s been holding MAGA rallies in state after state with candidates he’s endorsed, insisting to crowds that he did not legitimately lose to Mr Biden and repeatedly hinting that he plans on avenging his defeat by running again.
So what, if anything, could stop him?
The ex-president’s run at a second term became a possibility in February 2021 when the Senate failed to convict him at his second impeachment trial, which was the shortest in presidential history.
He had already been impeached by the Democratic-dominated House of Representatives on one charge of incitement for urging his supporters to "fight like hell" before they attacked the Capitol on 6 January. Had the Senate voted to convict, Mr Trump could have been barred from ever standing again. Under the Constitution, “judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honour, trust or profit under the United States.”
However, only seven Republicans voted to convict along with all 50 Democrats on 13 February 2021 – thus falling short of the two-thirds majority needed to find the former president guilty.
Today, Mr Trump’s hold on the Republican party is overwhelming, and none of this year’s major candidates have broken from the former reality TV host. But that does not mean her faces no obstacles to a return to the White House.
In reality, the biggest hurdle he may face could be a legal rather than electoral one.
Mr Trump is fighting law enforcement investigations on several fronts. New York Attorney General Letitia James has succeeded in getting a New York court to hold him in civil contempt, meaning he will be fined him $10,000 a day after he refused to hand over documents related to her office’s investigation into whether his company over and under-valued assets to get favourable loans.
New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has publicly declared that its investigation into possible tax fraud by Mr Trump was “very much ongoing”, despite suggestions to the contrary.
Mr Trump also faces a defamation case magazine writer E Jean Carroll, who sued Trump for defamation in 2019 in state court after he called her a liar for saying he raped her in a New York department store dressing room in the mid-1990s.
In denying her claims, Mr Trump said that she was “not his type”, and alleged she had made-up the claim to help the sales of her book.
As things currently stand, Mr Trump could run again. If he is convicted of a crime, it is still possible he could run. Over the course of history three people have launched presidential bids while incarcerated, while Slate reported legal professor Kate Shaw as saying: “When we’re talking about federal office, the limitations would really be political, not legal.”
“The Constitution actually is really clear about what the qualifications to run for president, or a member of Congress or Senate are.”
In the annals of US political history, only three elected officials have ever been permanently barred from holding future office: former federal judges West Humphreys, Robert Archibald, and Thomas Porteous,
While the 2024 presidential election is still more than two years away, Mr Trump appears likely to win his party’s nomination should he decide to run again.
In a March, 56 per cent of Republican voters told a Morning Consult/Politico poll that they would be likely to vote for him in a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary. That figure is the highest level of support for the former president in seven polls taken since November 2020.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis is seen as the most likely alternative candidate, with 13 per cent saying they would back him in the hypothetical primary. Mike Pence, Mr Trump’s former vice president, came in at just 10 per cent.
Meanwhile, Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger, who is not running for re-election, has said he “would love” to run against Mr Trump in a primary election “even if he crushed me.”
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