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In multiple news articles such as ones here and here, they mention Donald Trump running for president in 2024 because it is projected Joe Biden will be president starting 2021.

I thought the 22nd amendment which said no person can run for president twice nonconsecutively (emphasis mine):

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once

So I have two questions regarding this:

  1. Can Donald Trump run as president in 2024 and become president?
  2. If not (which seems the case because of the 22nd amendment), why do these news sources not mention that Donald Trump cannot legally do that without an amendment between now and 2024?

Edit: so I understand Grover Cleveland served 2 non-consecutive terms as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States, but my question pertains to modern day politics since the 22nd amendment didn't get ratified until 1951.

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    Closely related, possible duplicate, though the emphasis isn't really on the bolded part in the amendment: In the US, can a former president run again? – JJJ Nov 14 '20 at 15:23
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    Can you explain how you think the 22nd Amendment prohibits Trump from running in 2024? – Acccumulation Nov 15 '20 at 0:31
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    @FettFrank where do you get that it would prohibit non-consecutive terms in particular? If it would apply to Trump (which it doesn't), why would it only apply in 2024 but didn't apply already in 2020? – ilkkachu Nov 15 '20 at 9:04
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    Did you completely read the section you quoted? The answer is right there. – pacoverflow Nov 15 '20 at 19:50
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    The bolded text says "shall be elected... more than once". Why do you expect this to prevent someone from running additional times, as long as they are only elected at most twice? – Karl Knechtel Nov 16 '20 at 2:26
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The bolded part doesn't apply to President Trump. Specifically, it includes the following:

of a term to which some other person was elected President

President Trump is only serving in the term to which he was elected. If, in addition to the current term where he has been elected president, he had also served over two years of a term to which someone else was elected, then the term limit would apply.

So yes, President Trump can run again in 2024 (or any future election until the term limit does kick in) because the term limit doesn't apply (assuming a different president assumes office in 2021).

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    Put another way, the 2+ years clause is merely closing a VP loophole. If a vice-president serves 3 years after the president dies, that counts as one of the 2 terms. They can't have 3+4+4 = 11 years as president. – Owen Reynolds Nov 14 '20 at 23:39
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    "assuming he leaves office within two years after President-elect Biden's term begins": Trump ceases to be president at noon on January 20th. He does not need to take any action to "leave office." – phoog Nov 15 '20 at 0:44
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    @JJJ it doesn't need to be "within a year of the election." Suppose Kamala Harris becomes president before January 20, 2023. She can only be elected as president once after that, whether in 2024 or 2040. Alternatively, if she were to become president after that date, she would be eligible to be elected twice, regardless of when. – phoog Nov 15 '20 at 0:46
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    @gerrit The 12th Amendment bans people ineligible to become President from being VP. – Azor Ahai -him- Nov 15 '20 at 15:56
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    @JJJ it can be 3+3+3+3+3+3+3+4 = 25 years if the circumstances allow. There's no limit to the number of elections won, years served, or incapacitated Presidents succeeded by a Vice President. – Will Nov 15 '20 at 17:47
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The bolded section does not preclude somebody from serving two non-consecutive terms, it says that if somebody serves or acts as president for more than half of a term without being elected president (probably because they were vice president and filled a vacancy), they can only be elected to one full term.

Trump lost the election and will not serve or act as president during the term beginning January 2021, so the bolded section will not apply to him.

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This clause would be for a Vice President who becomes president. If Pence had become President for two years and a day because something happened to Trump, then Pence could only be elected once as President. If Trump threw the towel in right now and Pence became President for two months, he could then become President for two terms.

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    Not just for Vice President, it's for anyone on the presidential line of succession. – M Development Nov 15 '20 at 3:48
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    @ManhattanDevelopment The point of this answer, I assume, is to give any concrete example, since the OP's bold text doesn't explain how one could serve "part of a term to which someone else was elected". Adding in the succession rules might muddle that. – Owen Reynolds Nov 15 '20 at 17:45
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    On the contrary, stating a mistruth (or a partial truth) muddles that. – Asteroids With Wings Nov 15 '20 at 19:09
  • Easy folks. Please don't jump to the lies accusation so quickly. The point was that the details might distract from the main headline, not that the detail were wrong and omitting them is due to an untruth. I am disappointed that our current US leadership has lead to discourse that is so black and white and folks being not so nice to each other. – Michael Durrant Nov 17 '20 at 12:43
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Assuming the election stands as it is currently projected he can run again in 2024 as the only limitation on serving is two terms that are 2 years or more in length or being elected twice.

https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/United_States_of_America_1992

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President, when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Grover Cleveland served two non consecutive terms

Born in this modest house in Caldwell, New Jersey on March 18, 1837, Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States, the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms.

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    I think the Cleveland presidency predates 22nd amendment. – JJJ Nov 14 '20 at 15:14
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    @JJJ It does but I included it as well as the 22nd amendment to show that it has happened before. The main part of the answer is the 22nd amendment showing that it only cares about being elected twice or serving two terms of more than two years. – Joe W Nov 14 '20 at 15:25
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    I don't think it reads that way. Even if they have served two times over two years as part of someone else's term, then they are allowed to be elected once. – JJJ Nov 14 '20 at 15:28
  • @JJJ I don't think it is written to allow for someone to serve more than two terms in office if the person is assuming office from another person. As an example a person moving up from vice president to president three times. – Joe W Nov 14 '20 at 15:32
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    @JJJ is right. Whatever the intention of the amendment may have been, what it actually says is that someone who's served more than two years of a term the which someone else is elected may only be elected once. It does not say that the ability to be elected is further restricted after succeeding to the presidency multiple times. There is absolutely nothing in the amendment about "serving two terms of more than two years." – phoog Nov 15 '20 at 0:53
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Yes, he can.

You say '... which said no person can run for president twice...' - it nowhere talks about running for president.

You can run for President as often as you want, consecutively or not, twentyfive times if you care (if you live long enough).
Any limitations are about being elected for President, and Trump was only elected once so far.

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  • To emphasise that: somebody could run for president despite the 22nd amendment, he could receive an overwhelming fraction of the "popular vote", he could be nominated as president by a majority in the electoral college, but despite that he could not legitimately /be/ the president. Although it would be a brave man who pointed that out... – Mark Morgan Lloyd Nov 15 '20 at 21:20
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    @MarkMorganLloyd, "nominated" by the electoral college? I believe the electoral college is who actually elects the President. – CramerTV Nov 16 '20 at 17:25
  • @CramerTV Exactly: they nominate him as president. Or would you prefer "designate"? – Mark Morgan Lloyd Nov 16 '20 at 18:52
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    @MarkMorganLloyd, Candidates for president are nominated by their party. We, the People, vote for electors for the party of our preferred candidate. Presidents are then elected by the electors of the electoral college. And whoever is elected by the electoral college is the legitimate President. – CramerTV Nov 16 '20 at 19:53
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    Would you settle for anoint? :-) – Mark Morgan Lloyd Nov 16 '20 at 19:59
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You are misreading the Amendment. Basically it is saying that you can’t be elected President to a 3rd term, with a term being defined as having been elected President or having served as President for two years.

So a crazy scenario to show how this works.

President A/VP B are elected, after swearing in ceremony A gets hit in the head by pigeon dropped by a hawk and lapses into a coma for 3 and half years. Comes out of coma, runs for President with B as VP, wins, gets sworn in again, gets hit in the head by hawk that is diving for a pigeon, lapses into yet another coma and comes out of it after another 3 and half years. Is told that he can never run for President again. B runs for President for the very first time (after serving 8 years) with A as VP, wins. President B gets hit in the head by flying eagle, lapses into coma. A is appointed President and serves for 4 years. Neither A nor B are eligible to be elected as President. C decides to run for President with B as running mate on the condition that the swearing in ceremony take place indoors, wins, gets sworn in, slips on banana peel and lapses into coma. B is appointed President for another 4 years. D runs for President with C as VP, gets sworn in, trips and lapses into a coma. C serves for next 4 years. C is no longer eligible to run for President.

So, it doesn’t prevent non-consecutive terms, it doesn’t prevent someone from being President for more than 9 years. It disqualifies someone from being eligible to be a candidate after twice having been SELECTED or having previously been selected AND having served for more than 2 years when someone else was selected.

There is no limit on how many times you can run and loose.

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  • This answer is for the birds. But a bird in the hand is worth two in the George Bush. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Nov 16 '20 at 5:30
  • Your example is odd and not helpful. Either A could win the presidency a third time, because B was acting president during his comas. Or they could not be elected and hence would also be skipped when freshly inaugurated president B gets eagled (not being eligible for election also prevents succession). Similarly, B would likely be ineligible for the third election period and could not succeed C's banana incident. The maximum term length would be 10 years minus 1 day - nearly 2 years as acting president and then 2 full terms. (or full term 1, 2years acting, full term 2). – Chieron Nov 16 '20 at 18:41
  • @Chieron the maximum time in office under your theory is actually ten years exactly because someone who assumes the presidency for exactly two years has not "held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected." There's no need to subtract a day. (But in fact someone can assume the office multiple times, because subsequent times do not further restrict the ability to be elected, so the maximum time in office is actually unlimited.) – phoog Nov 17 '20 at 1:32
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    @Chieron: the Amendment is very specific, it doesn’t say 10 years, in both branches of the condition it says “shall be elected to the office of the President”. That means ELECTED TO THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, no more , no less. A can only be elected to the office twice. Hard stop. How much of the term is served is irrelevant. – jmoreno Nov 17 '20 at 2:33
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    @cde: B can be elected President at that point, because while B has been President for 2 terms, B was never elected President, thus neither condition of the 22nd prevent it. And the 12th doesn’t prevent it because, both A and B are still eligible to hold the office. Only 2 things would definitely make them ineligible to be President, impeachment or treason (insanity or dementia might). – jmoreno Nov 17 '20 at 12:18
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Your question is very confusing. You seem to be held up on the two terms being non-consecutive, but there is no wording in the 22nd amendment that would seem to have anything to do with that.

  1. Can Donald Trump run as president in 2024 and become president?

He can run, and if he wins he can become president. He has only been elected to the office once, in 2016. Nothing in the amendment prevents him from being elected a second time, no matter how much time has passed.

I think you're stuck up on the section you mark in bold:

no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once

Donald Trump has never held the office of President or acted as President at all when some other person was elected President, let alone for two years. He's only served as president for the term where he was elected himself.

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The amendment has 4 clauses. The 3rd is a grandfather clause no longer important and 4th is regarding when it goes into effect.

Of the 2 you care about, clause 1 is:

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice

As it applies to Trump, clause 1 only applies if Trump is elected twice. He has not been, having only been elected somehow in 2016.

Clause 2 also does not apply either.

no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once

Clause 2 applies to anyone, who either become president (only the Vice President becomes president when the president is removed) or acts as president (everyone else in the line of succession), for at least 2 years in that 4 year term. It may not require it to be a consecutive 2 years. Trump was impeached, but not removed, has not been incapacitated, or killed, so no one has replaced him this term, and he has never been in the line of succession for previous presidents.


Since it has never been tested, there is a possibility for the 25th Amendment not to apply to the 12th Amendment. Without the 12th amendment, incorporating the 25th, then someone who was elected to the office of president, or even ascending or acted as president, could run for Vice President, and then would be in the line of succession. Obama could, in theory, run for Vice President, and then, in theory, become President through succession for that term. And nothing would stop him from doing it multiple times. Short of an amendment or SCOTUS ruling, and the practicality of his ticket winning multiple times.

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