The Republican National Committee announced the rules for the race and the upcoming convention to nominate the presidential nominee, but without mentioning or predicting a resolution on an issue Republicans may face next summer: Can the party’s delegates vote for a nominee another, in the event that the candidate expected to win the nomination is found guilty of criminal charges and sentenced to prison?
Former president Donald Trump is facing 4 criminal cases that will continue even during the Republican Party primaries, an unprecedented case in American politics, where the political calendar coincides with that of criminal cases against a main candidate.
On March 5, 15 US states and the American Samoa Islands will hold primaries for the nomination of the presidential candidate, a day known as Super Tuesday.
These primaries will take place just one day after the first hearing of Mr. Trump’s trial in Washington on charges brought against him for attempting to illegally overturn the outcome of the 2020 election.
Mr. Trump so far leads the race among Republicans and could secure much-needed support by Super Tuesday, when nearly half of the delegates voting on the presidential nominee are expected to have been chosen.
Even if he were to be found guilty and sentenced in the Washington trial or another trial, top party leaders and many voters have signaled they would support him anyway.
Mr. Trump and his allies are pushing for his trial to be dismissed or delayed.
The rules of the Republican National Committee did not foresee how to act in the event that such an unprecedented scenario would occur.
Delegates must vote for a particular presidential candidate at the convention, based on the results of their state’s primary or caucuses.
As in previous years, the rules call for delegates to vote for a given candidate at least during the first round of voting at the national convention, with limited exceptions for a small number of delegates. A candidate wins the nomination if he wins a majority, which is 1,215 delegates.
In the next convention, which starts on July 15 in Milwaukee, there will be the possibility that before their approval, there will be slight changes to the rules, or their suspension. For such a thing, the approval by vote of 2/3 of the delegates is required.
“It’s a parliamentary body,” said Benjamin Ginsberg, a Republican election attorney. “It can make changes one way or another.”
These last-minute maneuvers are difficult to organize, and there is little sign that delegates will see other alternatives even as Mr. Trump’s trials are expected to take place soon.
Mr Trump’s campaign team issued a stark warning.
“Any attempt to tamper with the rules will be crushed by those of us who know how to run conventions,” said Mr. Trump’s adviser, Chris LaCivita.
The Republican National Committee declined to comment on the possibility of suspending the rules if the presidential candidate is jailed, but referred to recent interviews in which committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, when asked whether Mr. Trump should be nominated if convicted, replied that the party would support the candidate chosen by the voters.
“I know this is news, but as mayor, I will support what the voters choose. And, yes, if they elect Donald Trump, the voters are seeing this happening and they think there’s a double-standard justice system. They don’t believe a lot of the stuff that’s coming out,” Ms. McDaniel said in an interview with CNN on Nov. 12. “They make up their minds. And you’re seeing that reflected in the polls.”