The US Constitution does not prevent even a convicted politician from fighting for the White House

Andrey Yashlavsky

Donald Trump is once again at the center of a major political scandal. His estate in Florida was raided by FBI agents on a warrant that the ex-US president is under investigation for potential violations of the Espionage Act, and also suspected of possible violations of other United States laws. No charges have yet been brought against the former owner of the White House, but the press is counting what is due for the violations that Trump was suspected of.
The former US head of state is under investigation for a potential violation of the Espionage Act, according to a warrant that authorized a search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach. The ex-president of the United States was suspected of taking confidential documents from the White House to his estate. In February, the National Archives asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Trump violated federal law by taking official government papers to Mar-a-Lago. The ex-president himself and his lawyers claim that the materials were declassified by Trump before the end of his presidential term.
According to Newsweek, the 1917 Espionage Act provides for penalties of fines, imprisonment for up to 10 years, or both, for mishandling defense information.
The search warrant for Trump’s Florida estate also mentions two more laws that could also carry jail time if they are violated.
Specifically, the law mentioned in the warrant relates to the “concealment, removal, or distortion in general” of government documents, and its violations carry a fine, imprisonment of up to three years, or both. This law provides not only criminal punishment for the destruction or theft of state documents, but also the deprivation of the guilty person of the right to hold office.
Also referenced in connection with the search of Trump’s property is a law relating to “destroying, altering, or falsifying records in federal investigations,” which carries a fine or imprisonment of up to 20 years (or both);
The warrant shows that the FBI raid in Mar-a-Lago was part of an investigation into potentially serious crimes, and a person found guilty of these crimes could be sentenced to years in federal prison.
However, neither Donald Trump nor anyone else has been charged with any crime, and it appears that an investigation into the handling of the White House documents is ongoing.
Trump himself denies any wrongdoing on his part and hints that FBI agents could have planted evidence during a search in Mar-a-Lago. He and his Republican allies also argue that the search is part of a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
Legal experts are still debating whether it will be realistic to put Trump in jail. One lawyer doubts that the FBI will be able to prosecute and convict Trump under the terms of the warrant, as there is no evidence that classified information was sold for profit. Another expert believes that while the authorities may have evidence that Trump violated the laws mentioned in the warrant, it may be difficult to prove intent. Some people think that not the scandal with the documents taken from the White House, but the story of the storming of the Capitol by the Trumpists on January 6 last year, can bring him to court. Be that as it may, most experts in the law believe that neither prosecution nor even imprisonment can interfere with presidential ambitions.
One of the American publications even painted a fantastic picture of the annual address of the US President to Congress on January 13, 2026.
The head of state does not ride in a bulletproof limousine from the White House to the Capitol, but speaks via Zoom, dressed in orange overalls, from … a prison cell. While such a future looks wild and far-fetched, it cannot be completely ruled out given Donald Trump’s growing legal troubles and his ardent desire for revenge in the 2024 presidential election.
Legal experts believe that even if Trump goes to prison, nothing in the Constitution will prevent him from running again for the presidency of the United States (the Constitution requires that candidates for President of the United States be American citizens by birth, be at least 35 years of age and live in United States for at least 14 years).
There have been precedents in history when the United States ran for president from prison. Socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs was imprisoned in federal prison in Atlanta in 1920 when he received about 3.5% of the national vote.
President Harding later pardoned Debs, who had been convicted of treason under the Espionage Act due to his open opposition to U.S. involvement in World War I. And in 1992, Lyndon LaRouche, convicted in 1988 of mail fraud, ran from a prison cell.
So, in a bad scenario, Trump could run for president from prison. Another thing is that it will not be easy to conduct election campaigning even from a minimum security prison. How difficult it will be to convince tens of millions of Americans that a jailed man in his eighties is capable of leading the “free world.”
Also, if Trump, while incarcerated, decides to run for president and run for the Republican nomination in 2024, that alone does not guarantee that his name will appear on the ballot in every state in November of that year. State legislatures, especially in Democratic-led states, could try to pass laws that would make it harder for Trump to get elected.
If we imagine that Trump will be able to win from behind bars, then what will happen next? Theoretically, he could, even while in captivity, take an oath in prison, since nothing in the Constitution requires the president to be in any particular place, constitutional lawyers say. For example, Lyndon Johnson took the oath aboard Air Force One in 1963 after Kennedy’s assassination.
Again, theoretically, once sworn in, Trump can do many things from a prison cell that presidents usually do from the Oval Office: issue pardons, veto bills, issue executive orders, sign laws, and make political appointments. The Constitution does not prevent this.
But the problem arises: what will happen to the “nuclear briefcase”. Will the military assistant who carries the “suitcase” have to be in the next cell, experts ask? And according to former federal law enforcement officials, it is highly likely that US Secret Service agents will protect imprisoned Trump.
Of course, according to experts, the presidential status gives some powers that can help Trump improve his position. If he ended up in federal prison, he could probably try to issue a presidential pardon.
But if Trump is imprisoned in any state, then the right to pardon may be in the hands of the authorities of that state. True, if this is a Democratic-controlled region, the chances of liberation will be small.
In general, being in prison greatly reduces the ability to govern the state. And this can make opponents remember the 25th amendment, which deals with the incapacity of the president and succession. Hypothetically, Trump could hand over power to his vice president for an extended period of time if he wanted to declare himself incapable of holding the presidency.
In short, Trump’s legal problems, coupled with his political ambitions, become more and more interesting as time goes on, giving rise to very bizarre possible scenarios.
As they say in such cases, stock up on popcorn and watch.