Crime Donald Trump

Trump Facing Disqualification From Running For POTUS For Destroying White House Records

Thanks to some excellent reporting from the Washington Post, we now know that failed, one-term, twice-impeached former President Donald Trump often ripped up official government documents, which is prohibited by law.

According to the Post:

President Donald Trump tore up briefings and schedules, articles and letters, memos both sensitive and mundane.

He ripped paper into quarters with two big, clean strokes — or occasionally more vigorously, into smaller scraps.

He left the detritus on his desk in the Oval Office, in the trash can of his private West Wing study and on the floor aboard Air Force One, among many other places.

And he did it all in violation of the Presidential Records Act, despite being urged by at least two chiefs of staff and the White House counsel to follow the law on preserving documents.

While Trump did indeed violate federal law with his actions, he may also have guaranteed that he can never run for any federal office again, according to presidential historian Michael Beschloss, who cited the law on Twitter:

Here’s what the law says:

“Subsection (b) of 18 U.S.C. § 2071 contains a similar prohibition specifically directed at custodians of public records. Any custodian of a public record who ‘willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys (any record) shall be fined not more than $2,000 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.’ While the range of acts proscribed by this subsection is somewhat narrower than subsection (a), it does provide the additional penalty of forfeiture of position with the United States.”

So could Trump be prosecuted and banned from ever holding office? Hayes Brown of MSNBC doesn’t think so, explaining in an op-ed:

“If federal prosecutors were to go after him for this specifically, they’d be challenged to prove that this isn’t targeting him with a charge they wouldn’t bring against anyone else. Given the number of people who purposefully or accidentally walk off or mishandle federal records, and the lack of prosecutions over it, that feels unlikely.”

Fair enough, but it’s worth bookmarking the law in question and keeping in mind we may well need a way to prevent Trump from running again in 2024. Considering that he’s facing indictment in New York, Georgia, and as a result of a possible criminal referral from the House Select Committee on January 6, there are plenty of reasons to believe Trump has no intent of running. But if we happen to need a stopgap measure, this might be it.

By Andrew Bradford

Proud progressive journalist and political adviser living behind enemy lines in Red America.

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