With election day rapidly approaching, the nation is in a state of confusion over what happens after November 8th now that new developments surrounding the Hillary Clinton email scandal are being investigated by the FBI. The investigation into the sexting allegations by Anthony Weiner with a minor produced a laptop owned by the defendant and his estranged wife Huma Abadin, Hillary Clinton’s closest adviser. We’re told that thousands of emails were found on the laptop and are being currently reviewed by the FBI. If they find Hillary Clinton to have committed wrongdoing, the indictment may or may not come before election day. So the question remains, What happens if Hillary Clinton is elected President and then becomes indicted?
Let’s first look at the definition of indictment. An indictment is a formal charge or accusation against an individual suspected of committing a crime. The key word here is “charge”. An indictment does not mean conviction. Legally a felon can run for office and become President. The Constitution does not state a felon cannot run. According to Article II Section 1, it describes a candidate must be a natural born citizen of the US and be 35 years or older but does not discuss criminal background.
No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.
Once in office and convicted, Article II Section IV spells out the removal from office.
The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
So technically a Presidential candidate can become indicted, and still successfully run and hold office if they have not been convicted.
What if Hillary Clinton gets indicted after the inauguration? The House of Representatives can impeach her and the Senate would hold the hearings. With President Bill Clinton, the House of Representatives impeached him, however the Senate later acquitted him after a 5 week trial.
Would the DNC ask Hillary Clinton to step down? Security clearance could be an issue and the Democratic Party may not want the first year of Hillary’s Presidency to be riddled with hearings and trials. If so, they may have VP Candidate Tim Kaine step up to the plate. However this could be a very unpopular decision as there are millions of Democrats who support Hillary despite the years of controversy.
So in essence, unless the DNC asks Hillary Clinton to step down, or the former Secretary of State is indicted and found guilty prior to January 20th, if she wins the election November 8th she can still become President.
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network and Board Certified Family Physician