8. Trump in 2024: Can He Be Barred?
At the recent meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference, 55 percent favored Donald Trump for President in 2024. That is below expectations, but Trump is still number one. Is there a way to block him from running again?
Yes. Well, theoretically at least. True, in the impeachment trial the Senate did not convict Trump, and therefore did not vote to disqualify him from future office. But the Fourteenth Amendment, from 1868, bars from federal office anyone who has taken an oath to the U.S. constitution and has "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against the Constitution or "given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."
This is not self-executing. According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress or federal prosecutors would have to take action, by legislation or in court, to enforce it. But a majority of both Houses has already voted for an impeachment article that clearly indicts the Donald for giving aid and comfort to enemies of the Constitution. What other label could you give to the attempt to disrupt the Constitutionally-mandated process of certifying the electoral vote?
That comes after a lengthy campaign of delegitimizing valid election procedures, browbeating state officials to "find" votes, and weighing the option of martial law in a White House meeting. To the tune of "Hang Mike Pence," this was nothing less than an attempted coup d'état.
The Fourteenth Amendment was of course aimed at former federal officers who had deserted to the Confederacy. Its enforcement for that purpose ended in 1872 with passage of an Amnesty Act, but that act applied only to previous cases. Otherwise it is still on the books.
And it has been used once since. In 1919 Congress barred an elected representative from Wisconsin who had given "aid and comfort" to an enemy by opposing the draft in World War I. That would seem a rather mild sin compared to Trump telling Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that those ransacking the Capitol must care more about the election returns than McCarthy himself.
How fitting that the rioters carried a Confederate flag into the Capitol building -- surely the only time one has ever been flaunted there. So let the punishment fit the crime: why not use a Confederate-era measure against the only U.S. President to incite domestic insurrection?