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RNC in Milwaukee moving ahead as scheduled, despite Trump felony conviction

Former President Donald Trump faces sentencing four days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee

Former president Donald Trump speaks Tuesday, April 2, 2024, at Hyatt Regency in Green Bay, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

The Republican National Convention in Milwaukee will go on as planned this July, despite former President Donald Trump facing sentencing for 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. 

A New York jury found the former president guilty Thursday of falsifying records to hide a $130,000 hush-money payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels in order to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump faces a potential maximum sentence of four years in prison, but the former President could also receive probation instead. 

New York Judge Juan Merchan scheduled sentencing for July 11, which means Trump will be back in the courtroom just four days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. 

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Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brian Schimming said “everything about this trial has been political” and expects to see the former president in July.

“I don’t lose a wink of sleep at night wondering whether Donald Trump will be at convention, I’m quite confident that he will be at convention, and people need to remember this is going to be appealed,” Schimming said. “I don’t think in any way, shape or form, he’s going to be in jail for the convention.”  

An NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist poll released Thursday found that most respondents said Trump’s conviction won’t impact their vote on Nov. 5, but around 17 percent said they’d be less likely to vote for him if he was found guilty.

The former president is currently facing three other criminal cases. In Georgia, Trump faces several state charges for allegedly trying to overturn his 2020 loss to President Joe Biden. In southern Florida, he’s facing 32 federal felony charges for allegedly taking national security documents form the White House when he left office. In Washington D.C., Trump is facing two federal felony charges for allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 election.

Felony conviction doesn’t bar Trump from running, or being elected president again

Trump is the first former president to ever be convicted of criminal charges. But Marquette University Adjunct Political Science Professor Patrick Sobkowski told WPR it doesn’t bar him from seeking another term because “the bar for who can run for president is relatively low” under the U.S. Constitution. In order to legally run, a presidential candidate simply has to be born in the United States, live in the country for at least 14 years and be at least 35 years old.

Sobkowski said the closest comparison to Trump’s situation is Eugene Debs, who mounted his 1920 presidential campaign from a Georgia prison after being convicted of violating the Sedition Act for opposing America’s involvement in World War I.

“Debs was a was a Socialist, and so he ran sort of what we would think of as a third party candidate today,” Sobkowski sid. “And he famously ran his campaign for presidents out of a jail cell.”

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