The red-hot contest to succeed the ejected Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker got even hotter when Donald Trump gave one of the two major contestants, House Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan, his endorsement. It came in a Truth Social post that went up early on Friday morning that weirdly focused on the Ohioan’s background as a high school and college wrestling star:
Trump himself was briefly regarded as a candidate for the speakership earlier this week when Texas representative Troy Nehls announced he would nominate the 45th president for the position. Now Trump is committed to Jordan in his battle with front-runner and Minority Whip Steve Scalise, albeit leaving open the remote possibility of serving briefly as a temporary Speaker if House Republicans deadlock.
Bizarre as it may seem, the idea of Trump as House Speaker is perfectly legal; nothing in the U.S. Constitution requires that the Speaker be an elected member of the House, and the courts would almost certainly defer to whatever the House itself preferred to do on this subject. But there would have been a problem: There is something in the Republican House Conference rules excluding from leadership anyone who is “indicted for a felony for which a sentence of two or more years imprisonment may be imposed.” That describes the former president, who faces 91 felony charges. I’m not sure all of them carry a potential two-year sentence, but a lot of them do.
House Republicans, you see, are law-and-order fans who don’t mind fanatics in leadership so long as they have a relatively clean criminal record.
While promoting Trump as a potential Speaker, Troy Nehls brushed aside the rules problem as something House Republicans could either ignore or simply change, though it wouldn’t be a particularly good look to do so.
So there’s no Speaker’s gavel in Trump’s future, even if he wants one, while the rest of us will have to find sources of entertainment other than the spectacle of this extremely disorderly man trying to manage 435 members of Congress. Trump will have to go back to just running for president for the third time.
The situation does make you think about what opportunities the 45th president might lose if he’s convicted of a felony crime, which is a reasonably strong possibility. It will depend on a lot of variables, including the jurisdictions involved, but Black’s Law Dictionary has a suggested list of things convicted felons often lose:
Convicted felons lose rights from voting to employment, depending on their state of residence. While some of the rights convicted felons lose may be restored over time, some of the rights are lost forever.
Throughout the United States, some of the general rights convicted felons lose are as follows, varying state by state:
The right to bear arms or own guns
Employment in certain fields
Public social benefits and housing
Trump definitely won’t be voting in Florida for a while if he’s convicted of a felony there or somewhere else. Thanks to Florida Republicans, the state has some of the most difficult procedures in America for the restoration of a felon’s voting rights, and that’s after they’ve done their time.
But despite their stern determination in Washington and in Florida to make sure felons are shamed as well as jailed, they are a merciful lot on rare occasions: Six of Trump’s eight rivals at the first Republican presidential debate affirmed they would still back the old scofflaw for president even if he’s just been convicted of a felony. If he wins it’s unclear whether the overseas travel ban often imposed on felons — and/or other countries’ policies banning convicted felons from entering their territory — means Air Force One could be grounded. But that’s a bridge Trump’s party will cross after they navigate a presidential election when their nominee may very well be wearing an ankle bracelet.
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