/Only in America

Only in America

From Shaman’s Rock
By Jim Poling Sr.

No matter what calamity the world suffers, the only really important news in the United States these days is Donald Trump.

News networks feverishly report his limo leaving Trump Tower for another court appearance in downtown New York. Or, his $100 million Boeing 757 taxiing for takeoff to a criminal arraignment in Florida.

Media packs follow him in and out of courtrooms, then to election campaign stops where he boasts of being a stable genius who will be president again next year.

The current odds favour him winning the Republican nomination and beating Joe Biden for the presidency in 2024. However, the odds also favour him being convicted of criminal offences related to hush money payments in New York, mishandling of secret documents in Florida or trying to fix election results in Georgia.

If he is convicted on one of those offences and imprisoned how could he continue to run for president?

Easily. Nothing in U.S. law prevents him from becoming president while doing prison time. The law says that any natural born U.S. citizen who is 35 years or older and has lived in the country at least 14 years can be president.

If convicted and jailed, Trump will not be the first person to run for president while serving time. A guy named Eugene Debs did it back in 1920 and won three per cent of the popular vote. Nearly one million people voted for him.

Conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche ran for the White House in 1992 while doing a 15-year term for fraud. He won only 0.1 per cent of the popular vote.

There’s already one declared candidate running for the 2024 presidency from prison. Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also called Joe Exotic and star of the Netflix ‘Tiger King’ series, filed his candidacy papers in February as a Libertarian. He’s doing 21 years in Texas for animal trafficking and abuse offences and for attempting to arrange the murder of a rival zoo keeper.

If Trump does become president while in a prison – say Sing Sing in Ossining, New York – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will have to visit him there to discuss Canada-U.S. trade agreements. Trump will demand that Trudeau meet him to redo trade agreements that he says are great for Canada but are “horrible, horrible deals for our country.”

The prime minister will have to dress appropriately for the meeting, ensuring that he wears clothing and jewellery that meet prison visit rules. He’ll have to show valid photo ID.

Trump will be able to dress up a bit, although not in his standard blue suit and bright red tie. He’ll have to wear the green prison issue pants but Sing Sing inmates are allowed to wear personal tops and personal footwear that doesn’t cost more than $80.

If it is a luncheon meeting, the food could be hamburger, carrots, peas and boiled potatoes – one of the standard Sing Sing meals. 

That will make Trump happy because his favourite meal is a quarter pounder, fries and diet Coke. Trudeau likely won’t be impressed because he has more elegant tastes. 

The odds of getting the Republican presidential nomination or the odds of him winning the November 2024 presidential election could change dramatically. So could the odds of him being convicted of any of the offences and of serving any prison time.

The likelihood of a Florida conviction got a boost earlier this month when Trump’s former attorney general said the charges of wilfully holding onto secret documents appear solid.

“I was shocked by the degree of sensitivity of these documents and how many there were . . . ,” said Bill Barr. “If even half of it is true, then he’s toast.”

Trump had a quick and nasty response to that for the media. He said Barr was a weak and lazy attorney general and a “gutless pig.”

The odds will not change, however, on one aspect of the Trump drama. No matter what happens in the courts or political arenas you can bet Donald Trump will be a main item on the daily news for many months, and perhaps years to come.