‘I Stand with Olivia Pope’: Kerry Washington Says If Donald Trump Can Run for President as a Convicted Felon, Then We Should Remove the Felon Box from Job Applications and Fans Agree

For many job applicants with a criminal history, one single question blocks them from gainful employment — but not for Donald Trump.

And actress Kerry Washington wants to know why. When a New York jury found the former President guilty of 34 felony counts, many figured that would hobble his second-term aspirations, but the truth is no law exists that bars a felon from running for president. So why are felons discriminated against on job applications?

Kerry Washington sparks conversation after suggesting the convicted felon box being removed from job applications following Donald Trump’s conviction. (Photos: Momodu Mansaray/WireImage, Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Washington posed this question in a candid interview with “Bustle” to promote the release of season 2 of her show “UnPrisoned,” premiering on July 17. The conversation veered into interesting territory when she shared her views on double standards in the criminal justice system.

“Everything has changed in terms of how I feel about the so-called justice system,” she told the publication. “We’re in such an interesting moment when it comes to [the question of], ‘What is a felon?’ I love what people have been sharing on social media, [saying that] if a person who is a convicted felon can still run for president, then we should be removing that box from job applications.”

The “Scandal” star also added that if felons can run for president, they should also be able to vote.

The movement, known as “Ban the Box,” has gained momentum nationally thanks to grassroots advocacy by the civil rights group “All of Us or None of Us,” composed of formerly incarcerated citizens. The latest data shows that 37 states and over 150 cities have banned the checkbox on job applications asking about criminal history. The theory is that this gives applicants a fair shot at employment by delaying background checks until later in the hiring process.

Felons are faring less well with voting rights. Laws in 48 states ban people with felony convictions from voting for at least some period. An estimated 4.4 million people in the U.S. are disenfranchised due to a current or past felony conviction, according to the National Employment Law Project.

“That’s huge. Huge. The irony is that [Gov.] Ron DeSantis has been trying to make it impossible in Trump’s home state,” Washington continued. “A bill was passed in Florida to allow formerly incarcerated folks to vote, and DeSantis has been trying to do everything he can to [undercut] that. Donald Trump may not be able to vote in his home state,” stated the actress/producer.

“Being a felon has become just another box that we put people in, to assume who they are and what they’re capable of, in the same way we do with gender or race,” she added.

In Florida, convicted felons must jump through a series of hoops involving fines, fees, and court costs before regaining their voting rights. But DeSantis publicly stated he would smooth the path for Trump despite his felony convictions. “Given the absurd nature of the New York prosecution of Trump, this would be an easy case to qualify for restoration of rights per the Florida Clemency Board, which I chair,” he posted on X on May 31.

While DeSantis throws his weight around, so to speak, the public seems to be siding with Washington and her no-nonsense views. Fans of the actress are flooding social media with comments of support and calls to run for office… as her “Scandal” character Olivia Pope.

“Olivia Pope for President,” declared one fan, with another exclaiming, “THATS RIGHT, OLIVIA POPE,” referencing Washington’s famous starring role as a Washington D.C. crisis manager who once brought down a fictional Trump-like figure (“Hollis Doyle”) by exposing his racist views.

“I stand with Olivia Pope on this one.. She should run…atp I’m down!” quipped a fan. Another agreed with Washington and went a step further:

“Gone head and add felons should be able to RENT an apartment/house as well. Why serve time to be restricted of decent humanity and rights???? You serve the time, released, or allowed to vote or rent a place to live to rehabilitate or get a job to take care of yourself. This [is] all a joke. Make it make sense. Lord gone head and return.”

There’s no denying Olivia Pope would be a fierce leader of the free world. Washington explained her character’s broad appeal in the interview, noting that “Scandal” was likely the first time a lot of people let a Black woman spend so much time in their home.

“She was a real human being, beyond the label of ‘Black woman.’ [She had] complexity, nuance, flaws, brilliance. She was aspirational and also such a mess,” Washington said of her character. She added, “Now we’re allowing for that kind of social, psychological deepening with felons and returning citizens, too.”

We can only hope.

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