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E. Jean Caroll: Jury’s verdict doesn’t affect Trump’s legal ability to run for president

E. Jean Caroll: Jury’s verdict doesn’t affect Trump’s legal ability to run for president


Following a Manhattan federal jury finding that Donald Trump sexually abused E. Jean Carroll in a luxury department store dressing room in the spring of 1996 and the awarding of $5 million to her for battery and defamation, the verdict may not have any legal effect on Trump’s presidential candidacy.

For one, it is a civil case, and during the 2016 campaign, Trump also faced all sorts of civil action – like the fraud cases concerning Trump University that were settled shortly after he was elected – that had no bearing on the requirements for the presidency that are laid out in the Constitution.


Trump also faces unrelated criminal exposure, most prominently in the case that Manhattan prosecutors have brought against him for hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claimed they two had an extramarital affair (Trump denies the claim).

At the same time, a successful criminal prosecution of the former president is unlikely to affect – at least from a legal standpoint – his ability to be reelected to the White House.

Notably, there is precedent for convicted felons to run for federal office – including for the office of the presidency. Eugene V. Debs, a perennial socialist candidate for the White House in the early 20th century, was incarcerated on an espionage conviction when he won more than 900,000 votes in a 1920 presidential campaign.


Carroll alleged Trump raped her in the Bergdorf Goodman department store and then defamed her when he denied her claim, said she wasn’t his type and suggested she made up the story to boost sales of her book. Trump denied all wrongdoing. He does not face any jail time as a result of the civil verdict.



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