Could Donald Trump Run For President Again After The FBI Raid?

In 2015, Donald Trump descended a golden escalator in New York's Trump Tower to announce his presidential bid, but he had teased a presidential run long before that. 

In 1999, he went on CNN's "Larry King Live" and said he was forming a "presidential exploratory committee" to check out being the presidential candidate for the Reform Party. Trump also said that Oprah Winfrey would be his first choice as vice president. 

More than 10 years before that, he was on the "Oprah Winfrey Show," and the host asked the real estate mogul if he would consider running for president. He responded, "I would never want to rule it out totally because I really am tired of seeing what's happening with this country."

After losing the election in 2020, Trump has been hinting at running for president for the third time in 2024. He's said that he's already decided whether to run, but he hasn't yet made it public, per New York Magazine

But it might not come down to whatever Trump wants to do. The recent FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach home, might play a role.

A conviction wouldn't automatically disqualify Donald Trump from running for office

The FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump's home in Palm Beach, Florida, while the former president was in New York, per CNN. They were executing a search warrant related to an investigation of whether government documents were unlawfully removed from the White House at the end of his term. 

The first part of the law being investigated states that anyone who "willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys" any government document will be imprisoned or fined. Here's the kicker: The second part of the law states that anyone found in custody of a government document that they shouldn't have — or has mutilated, concealed, or destroyed said documents — will "be disqualified from holding any office under the United States."

So, if Trump is convicted of mishandling records, he might not be eligible to be president. "Might" is a keyword because it would be an unprecedented case. In a 1969 case, the Supreme Court determined that Congress doesn't have unilateral power to determine who is eligible for office because the Constitution takes precedent. And, short of a Senate decision on impeachment, Trump could potentially still be eligible, even if found guilty of breaking the records law, per The New York Times.

This isn't the first time government records have been recovered from Trump's Florida residence, either. In February 2022, the National Archives and Record Administration took 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago.