FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Former President Donald Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records stemming from alleged 2016 hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Trump allegedly claimed those payments were ordinary legal expenses.
According to prosecutors, those charges can be elevated from misdemeanor to felony because falsifying the records was done to conceal another crime.
It's a pretty serious offense, according to Thomas Holyoke, Professor of Political Science at Fresno State.
"Well, any effort to conceal a crime is pretty serious," said Holyoke. "The whole idea is that we should know when people commit crimes. It should not, should not be disguised, and that should be especially true one would think of the President of the United States or former President of the United States."
This is the first time a former president has been indicted for criminal charges, something Holyoke says shouldn't be overlooked.
"You know, in this country, we respect the rule of law, and the rule of law is that there is no individual that is above the law -- that includes Presidents and ex-Presidents," said Holyoke. "And I think right now, we are proving that."
Holyoke said as he understands it, if convicted, the former president could face up to four years in prison, but that would not disqualify him from running for president.
"The Constitution does not say very much about qualifications for President, and they didn't say a thing at all about if you've been convicted," said Holyoke. "Now, if he is actually in prison, he cannot, to my knowledge, be released from prison to go campaigning, but that does not disqualify him from being on the ballot."
Holyoke said that as for how this impacts Trump with voters, we'll have to wait and see how the trial and election play out.
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