"It isn't a crime exactly. Ye can't be sent to jail for it, but it's a kind iv a disgrace. It's like writin' anonymous letter."
—Peter Finley Dune, The bringing' up of children
The question that has recently featured prominently in the minds of those observing political events in the United States is whether the trump is already considering whom he will select to be his vice presidential candidate. It is always a difficult choice for a presidential candidate since it is important that the person selected not have a higher profile than the presidential candidate lest the presidential candidate be overshadowed by the vice presidential candidate.
It is obvious at this point that as successful as his run with vice president Michael Pence was, and as pleasant as their association had been while the trump was still in the White House, that relationship has taken a distinctly downward turn since the 2020 election. It is safe for the outside observer to state categorically that there is not a chance that the trump will pick Pence to run with him in this election. Another very promising candidate for the post, however, has now presented himself, and this writer’s suspicion is that the person being considered has an excellent chance of being selected. The person to whom I am referring is George Santos.
As of this writing, Santos faces 13 criminal charges including seven counts of voter fraud, three counts of money laundering, two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives and one count of theft of public funds. Although being an indicted criminal is no bar to serving in the United States House of Representatives as the House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy has proudly announced, it is more problematic if the vice presidential candidate faces the possibility of being confined in prison for an extended period of time if convicted of the various crimes with which he is charged. That, however, does not detract from the fact that having George on the ticket with the trump, could be a benefit for the trump since having a running mate facing 13 criminal counts would tend to detract from any criminal counts that trump may be facing before the next election. That is not to say there is no downside to selecting George.
If George were the trump’s running mate and nonetheless convicted of the crimes with which he is charged, he could easily face the prospect of spending time in prison even while serving as vice president of the United States. At first blush that would appear to be an insurmountable hurdle to his being selected as trump’s running mate. Further reflection suggests it is not.
As of this writing the trump’s legal problem is limited to having lost a court case in which the plaintiff convinced a jury he had assaulted her and the jury awarded her $5 million in damages. It is too soon to know if criminal charges will be filed against the trump, but as of this writing it seem increasingly likely. If that proves to be correct it will, of course, be enormously helpful to have Santos on the ticket with him since the charges facing Santos will divert attention from the charges facing the trump.
More serious is the question of what happens if both the trump and George are elected but convicted of crimes that include mandatory prison sentences. A practical question that is presented by this is the one this column recently addressed when the trump was heading to New York for his arraignment. Before that visit the Secret Service was sent to the court house to check out the security to make sure it was safe for the trump to appear in court. The question addressed in that column was since the trump is entitled to life time protection from the Secret Service, if he is sentenced to prison where will the Secret Service agents protecting him live-in the same cell as the trump, an adjacent cell, etc.
At first blush it would appear that this problem would be even greater if both the president and the vice president were found guilty of crimes, the sentences for the commission of which resulted in each of them being sentenced to prison. It is more than unseemly for the United States to be governed by two men who are in prison the way people in some less developed countries have been governed. There is, however, an obvious answer to that seemingly perplexing question.
Before the authorities haul them off to their respective places of incarceration trump, who by then will be the president of the United States, can issue a presidential pardon to himself and to George and the trump can move into the White House and Santos can move into the vice presidential quarters. Who’d have thought such a congruence of people and events could have resulted in such a happy ending.