Fact Check

Did Trump Say a Candidate Under Federal Investigation 'Has No Right To Be Running'?

The sentiment was allegedly expressed by then-candidate Trump in November 2016.

Published Jan 17, 2024

 (Twitter)
Image Via Twitter
Claim:
In November 2016, Donald Trump stated that a candidate under federal investigation "has no right to be running" and that it would be "virtually impossible" for a president under indictment to govern.

Statements made in 2016 by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump about the impossibility of governing as president while under indictment came to life again after 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump was charged with "91 criminal offenses in four criminal cases."

Readers asked us to look into the veracity of such statements attributed to Trump on social media. For example, the following was shared to the subreddit r/Conservative in December 2023:

(Twitter)

The text in question stems from two separate Trump rallies held in November 2016 — a Nov. 3 rally in North Carolina, and a Nov. 5 rally in Colorado. The statements made by Trump were in reference to the Oct. 28 revelation to Congress by then-FBI Director James Comey that his agency had reopened a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton.

The phrasing at issue appears to stem from reporting by CNN's KFile. In July 2023, that team published a story unearthing multiple statements made by Trump following Comey's disclosure (emphasis ours):

On November 3, 2016, in Concord, North Carolina, Trump made similar comments. “If she were to win, it would create an unprecedented Constitutional crisis that would cripple the operations of our government,” he said.

“She is likely to be under investigation for many years, and also it will probably end up – in my opinion – in a criminal trial. I mean, you take a look. Who knows? But it certainly looks that way.” [...] “She has no right to be running, you know that,” Trump said. “No right.”

Trump added at a November 5, 2016, rally in Denver that as “the prime suspect in a far-reaching criminal investigation,” Clinton’s controversies would make it “virtually impossible for her to govern.

The paraphrased collection of statements is sometimes incorrectly cited as a direct quote. However, as displayed in the meme shown here, the portions within the quotation marks are statements Trump made in November 2016, and the paraphrased portions accurately reflect these statements' intent. As such, the claim is True.

Sources

Chozick, Amy, and Patrick Healy. “‘This Changes Everything’: Donald Trump Exults as Hillary Clinton’s Team Scrambles.” The New York Times, 28 Oct. 2016. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/29/us/politics/donald-trump-hillary-clinton.html.

Speech: Donald Trump - Concord, NC - November 3, 2016. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-CuQGDneyY. Accessed 17 Jan. 2024.

Speech: Donald Trump in Denver, CO - November 5, 2016. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lm01YVyt4nY. Accessed 17 Jan. 2024.

“Trump’s 91 Criminal Charges and Where They Stand.” CREW | Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, https://www.citizensforethics.org/reports-investigations/crew-reports/trumps-91-criminal-charges-and-where-they-stand/. Accessed 17 Jan. 2024.

Turner, Abby, and Andrew Kaczynski. “Trump Once Said a President under Felony Indictment Would Grind the Government to a Halt and Create a Constitutional Crisis | CNN Politics.” CNN, 3 July 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/07/03/politics/kfile-trump-president-indictment-halt-government/index.html.

u/ultimis. Words of Advise from Trump. 16 Dec. 2023, https://www.reddit.com/r/Conservative/comments/18juqov/words_of_advise_from_trump/.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.