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Maddow Blog | Trump’s aspiring running mates are confronting an ironic question

In World
June 11, 2024

By all accounts, the vice-presidential vetting process is extremely unpleasant. A team of partisan investigators comb through every possible detail of your personal, political, and financial life, looking for potential controversies that could undermine the party’s ticket and its electoral prospects.

Several years ago, a senator who endured the potential-running-mate process said it was like having a colonoscopy without anesthesia.

With this in mind, we know that a small group of Republicans are currently facing this intense scrutiny, hoping to join Donald Trump’s 2024 ticket, and Sen. J.D. Vance briefly shed some light on what this entails during a Fox News appearance yesterday.

The Ohio senator, apparently reluctant to overstate how far the process has advanced, said Trump campaign officials have asked “for a number of things.”

Co-host Steve Doocy asked, “Like your taxes or something?” before quickly adding with a laugh, “Your criminal background?”

Vance went along as if this were a perfectly normal line of inquiry. “I don’t know everything they’ve been asked. Yeah, but certainly like, ‘Have you ever committed a crime?’ ”

Traditionally, such an exchange wouldn’t have been especially notable. Of course potential major-party vice presidential candidates are going to be asked, as part of the vetting process, whether they have a criminal past.

But as American politics becomes decidedly less normal, there’s a complicating factor in 2024: Team Trump wants to know about would-be running mates’ criminal background, despite the fact that Trump himself is now a convicted criminal.

In fact, given the circumstances, it’s not altogether clear what answer the GOP operation is looking for to the underlying point of inquiry: The former president is already helping lead a “team of felons,” so it remains an open question as to whether a criminal conviction would help or hurt a candidate’s chances. (Of the contenders, Florida Rep. Byron Donalds appears to be the only aspiring running mate to have been arrested twice.)

Vance and the Fox hosts didn’t acknowledge the irony of the circumstances, but the truth of the matter is that Trump wouldn’t be able to withstand his own campaign operation’s vetting process for national office. Researchers would take one look at the former president’s rap sheet — felony convictions, held liable for sexual abuse, bankruptcies, a fraudulent charity, “university,” and business, etc. — and immediately move Trump’s file to the “no chance in hell” pile.

This article was originally published on MSNBC.com

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