Trump can run in 2024 even if charged in classified documents case | Fact check

The claim: Merrick Garland stripped Trump of right to run in 2024 after evidence of 'justice obstruction' was found

A June 1 Facebook post (direct link, archive link) makes a claim about former president Donald Trump and his pursuit of a second term.

"Now the news says AG Garland STRIPS Trump of his right to run in 2024 after evidence of 'justice obstruction' found so why does he keeps (sic) trying to run," reads the post.

A version of the post was shared over 1,000 times before it was deleted.

Follow us on Facebook! Like our page to get updates throughout the day on our latest debunks

Our rating: False

Attorney General Merrick Garland does not have the authority to prevent Trump from running for president, according to legal experts. The post comes amid a probe examining Trump’s handling of classified documents. Even if Trump is indicted in that case, he can still run for president.

Garland has taken no such action, Trump can still run in 2024

In November 2022, Garland appointed federal prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel to oversee an investigation of Trump’s handling of classified records kept at his Mar-a-Lago estate after he left the White House in 2021. Trump could face charges for violating the Espionage Act, obstructing an investigation and removal or destruction of records, as USA TODAY previously reported.

But no charges have been filed against Trump in the case as of June 5. And contrary to the post's claim, Garland has no power to prevent Trump from running for president even if he was charged in the case, according to Marc Scholl, who served as a criminal prosecutor in New York.

Garland’s duties as attorney general include representing the U.S. in legal matters, supervising and directing offices within the Justice Department and performing other tasks required by statute. With respect to the classified documents investigation, Smith makes the decision on whether to recommend charges against Trump but Garland can overrule that decision, according to Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer at Mark S. Zaid, P.C.

No single person, including Garland, has any authority to strip Trump of his ability to run for president, according to Barbara McQuade, a criminal law expert at the University of Michigan.

She explained that even if Trump were charged, convicted and sentenced to prison, he would still be able to run for president. The three exclusive requirements to run for president are to be a natural-born citizen, to be at least 35 years old and to have been a resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years, according to the U.S. Constitution.

The only way Trump could lose his right to run would be if the Senate had convicted him in one of the impeachment trials and also voted to declare him ineligible under language in Article I, section 3 of the Constitution or some formal congressional process under section 3 of the 14th Amendment, according to Kenneth Mayer, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Facebook post surfaced after CNN reported on May 31 that federal prosecutors obtained an audio recording of a 2021 meeting in which Trump acknowledged he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran, possibly undercutting his defense that he had previously declassified the documents. CNN said it did not independently review the tape.

Fact check: False claim Trump increased debt more than any president

Trump previously told reporters that he “won’t even think about leaving” the 2024 race despite his legal troubles, as USA TODAY reported.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Our fact-check sources:

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump can run for president despite legal troubles | Fact check