However, Trump has never really dealt with such unwritten conventions. His followers had always forgiven his ignorance. Also because it served as proof that he doesn’t seem to be part of the Washington establishment that many voters hate.
A way out in the Constitution
But maybe there is a legal way out. In any case, it has been hotly debated in Democratic circles for a few weeks now. However, the solution is closely tied to the investigation into the January 6, 2021 storming of the Capitol. Both the slow investigations by Attorney General Merrick Garland and the many hearings in the Commission of Inquiry show how difficult it still is to overthrow the planned coup d’état of Trump to prove in court. The last meeting is scheduled for next week, October 13.
While a possible conviction of Trump in connection with a coup attempt is still a long way off, Democrats are apparently already looking for ways to prevent Trump from returning to the Oval Office. The US Congressional Research Service recently updated a review of these capabilities on its website.
It reads: “Some observers, historians and other commentators question whether the Fourteenth Amendment’s disqualification clause could provide a mechanism to prohibit individuals who participated in or promoted the siege, including former and current government officials, from exercising their ban from office.” This refers to Donald Trump and his possible plans to storm the Capitol on January 6.
In the 14th amendment, the third paragraph reads:
“No person may be a senator or member of Congress, or an elector for president or vice president, hold any office, civil or military, in the service of the United States or of any state which, after serving as a member of the Congress or any official of the United States or as a member of the legislature of a state, or an administrative or judicial officer in a state, has sworn to obey the United States Constitution, has participated in an insurrection or insurrection against it, aided or aided his enemies. […]”
Hard to define
As unambiguous as this paragraph may sound despite the cumbersome wording, according to the investigative service, it does not apply unequivocally to January 6 and Trump. “The clause has been rarely used and the few times it has been used in the past has mainly stemmed from the civil war — a very different context from the events of January 6,” it said.
The relevant passage of the 14th Amendment was incorporated after the American Civil War in the 19th century. Part of this was to prevent former Confederate generals from being elected to Congress who had just fought against the US Constitution.
It is a “difficult task” to determine what it actually means to have participated in an uprising or insurrection or to have aided America’s enemies, congressional experts now write. There is simply a “lack of precedent and a lack of clear definitions”. Moreover, a criminal conviction is in any case not a condition for the enforcement of the clause. The outcome of the investigation against Trump would therefore have no direct impact.