Charlie Savage, The New York Times, reports:
Early reports that the F.B.I. search of former President Donald J. Trump’s residence in Florida related to an investigation into whether he had unlawfully taken government files when he left the White House focused attention on an obscure criminal law barring removal of official records. The penalties for breaking that law include disqualification from holding any federal office.
Because Mr. Trump is widely believed to be preparing to run for president again in 2024, that unusual penalty raised the prospect that he might be legally barred from returning to the White House.
Specifically, the law in question — Section 2071 of Title 18 of the United States Code — makes it a crime if someone who has custody of government documents or records “willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies or destroys” them. If convicted, defendants can be fined or sentenced to prison for up to three years. In addition, the statute says, if they are currently in a federal office, they “shall forfeit” that office, and they shall “be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.” On its face, then, if Mr. Trump were to be charged and convicted of removing, concealing or destroying government records under that law, he would seem to be ineligible to become president again.
But there was reason for caution
several legal scholars — including Seth B. Tillman of Maynooth University in Ireland and Eugene Volokh of the University of California, Los Angeles — noted that the Constitution sets eligibility criteria for who can be president, and argued that Supreme Court rulings suggest Congress cannot alter them. The Constitution allows Congress to disqualify people from holding office in impeachment proceedings, but grants no such power for ordinary criminal law.
(click here to continue reading Can Donald Trump Run for President Again If He Broke This Law? – The New York Times.)
So, maybe? Can a law passed by Congress supersede a provision in the Constitution? And will states allow a criminal on the ballot?