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GOP senators refuse to rule out backing Donald Trump again – even if he’s indicted

If Donald Trump runs for president a third time, Republicans on Capitol Hill will have to deal with all sorts of things they hoped were gone forever — constantly having to respond to his tweets, worrying about being the target of his tweets and a return to the chaotic parade that characterized his administration.

But there’s another possible twist that, so far at least, most Republicans in the Senate don’t even want to think about: Trump runs and then gets indicted for his conduct on Jan. 6. It would give the nation a modern political first – a candidate from a major party with a realistic chance of winning the nomination while facing a criminal charge.

Republican senators say so far they haven’t given the idea much thought — at least not that they’re willing to admit it — and have declined to say whether an impeachment for breaking the law would be disqualifying for a person vying to be constitutionally charged with enforcing the laws of the nation.

“You talk about guesswork. Just wait for things to happen and then we’ll talk, okay? Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama told HuffPost this week.

“Wow, I don’t know. I don’t know what the rules are,” said Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio. “I just didn’t think about it.”

The possibility is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Trump apparently almost announced his intention to run again, largely alluding to his supporters will be happy with his decision.

At the same time, signs have emerged that the Justice Department is further along than previously thought in its investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt and Trump’s role in it. On July 26, the Washington Post reported that Trump was under investigation for possible crimes related to January 6, and CNN reported recently that Trump’s lawyers were in contact with the Justice Department about the investigation and warned Trump that he could be charged.

“You talk about guesswork. Just wait for things to happen and then we’ll talk, okay? »

– Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

“Trump’s legal defense team has put him on notice that indictments are possible,” CNN said, citing unspecified sources.

As for Portman’s question of whether catching an indictment would be against the rules, there’s nothing in the official republican party rules that mentions indictments or fresh, nor in the latest party platform adopted in 2016.

It’s different the same House Republicans Rules, which explicitly say that party members must resign from their committee seats if they are indicted. In other words, an indictment could force a rank-and-file Republican to resign from the House’s third-tier budget committee, but would have no formal impact on who can run for the party’s presidential nomination.

Among GOP senators who had an opinion on what should happen if Trump runs as an indicted nominee, feelings ranged across the spectrum.

Sen. Rick Scott (Florida), who leads the National Republican Senate campaign to win back the chamber for the GOP, said the call to run was Trump’s.

“It’s a choice for President Trump to make and for voters to decide,” he told HuffPost.

Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), a 2016 presidential candidate, said an impeachment would criminalize political differences.

“I think prosecuting someone for their beliefs or political positions is not appropriate in a democracy,” he said. “Whether or not you think the governor should endorse the voters or the secretary of state or the state legislature looks like a political point of view.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Republican from Alaska in a re-election battle against a Trump-endorsed opponent, said talking about an indicted Trump candidacy “speaks to very distant scenarios.”

But when asked if she thought an indictment would be disqualifying, Murkowski replied, “Of course.”


— Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), on whether she thought an indictment would prevent Trump from running for president again

Florida’s Marco Rubio, another GOP presidential candidate whom Trump defeated in 2016, declined to comment, saying, “I’m not doing any of this speculation.

GOP leaders were also silent on the issue. The office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) declined to comment, though McConnell has hinted in the past that Trump may not be a problem for the GOP because he will have a “Crowded field” of potential nominees for 2024.

A request for comment from House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office was not returned.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who ran for president in 2020, said if Republicans wanted to kiss an indicted presidential candidate “nobody can stop them.”

Tom Williams via Getty Images

A former Democratic presidential candidate had an opinion, however. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), one of the last 2020 Democratic candidates to fall before President Joe Biden wins the party’s nomination, said there should be no formal indictment to ban Trump.

“Trump should be disqualified by American voters who, at this point, should be appalled at everything that has come out,” she said.

“If Republicans want to kiss someone indicted for acts of treason against the United States of America, then no one can stop them,” Warren added.

“Republicans have gone so far that the American people — and that includes Democrats, Republicans and independents — said, ‘No, we’re not going there with you. “”


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