Will the FBI investigation be the scandal that torpedoes Donald Trump's chances at a 2024 election run? USSC Associate Professor David Smith tells SBS when such a high-profile investigation is underway it can definitely hurt a candidate politically.
"As much as it might help rally Republicans around Trump … for the rest of the country, having someone under criminal investigation, they're not going to think of him as a good candidate for president.”
Dr Smith said it was possible Mr Trump had broken US law. "Under US law, any document that's generated by the presidency has to be turned over to the National Archives. That's a really important part of the transparency of government. So if that is the case, it's entirely possible that he's broken federal law,” he said.
He said the FBI and federal Justice Department would have known that to Trump supporters [the raid] really looks like a very aggressive act, and it leaves them open to the accusation that they've been politicised. "They must think that there's something pretty serious there if they're prepared to escalate the drama this much,” Dr Smith said.
Dr Smith said the FBI's raid was unlike anything we've seen "in living memory”. The crime of mishandling federal documents can lead to a multi-year prison sentence, and there has been speculation in recent days over whether Mr Trump could be prevented from running for office again if he were to be charged with a criminal offence.
However, since it’s ultimately the constitution that governs the eligibility of someone to be President of the United States, not criminal law, being criminally investigated likely wouldn’t stop Mr Trump from running for office again, according to Dr Smith.