A Denver judge ruled on Friday that Donald Trump is still able to run for president in 2024 even if he had participated in an “insurrection,” as his political enemies contend, joining other courts in rejecting attempts to ban the leading presidential contender.
District Court Judge Sarah B. Wallace ruled that the 14th Amendment provision prohibiting insurrectionists from holding office does not apply to presidents and so does not disqualify Trump.
“To be clear, part of the Court’s decision is its reluctance to embrace an interpretation which would disqualify a presidential candidate without a clear, unmistakable indication that such is the intent,” she wrote in a Nov. 17 order.
The petitioners sought to invoke Section 3 of the Constitution to prevent Secretary of State Jena Griswold from certifying Trump’s name on the presidential primary ballot on January 5, 2024. Griswold took no stance on Trump’s eligibility, but she requested Wallace to rule on whether Trump’s claimed participation in an insurgency barred him.
“The Court determined that Donald Trump is eligible to be placed on the Colorado ballot in the March Presidential Primary. This decision may be appealed. As Secretary of State, I will always ensure that every voter can make their voice heard in free and fair elections,” Griswold said in a statement.
Wallace heard from experts regarding how Section 3 was administered at the time of its enactment in 1868 during a five-day hearing earlier this month. Members of Congress were not seated at the time for crimes as minor as sending an anti-Union letter to the editor or donating $100 to a family member before departing to fight for the Confederacy.
Recently, a local elected official in New Mexico was removed from office owing to his role in the Jan. 6 attack.
A past president and current presidential contender being disqualified would have been unusual. Recent decisions in similar instances in New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Michigan all ruled in Trump’s favor, with judges determining that it is not their responsibility to determine Trump’s present eligibility.
“We shouldn’t even be here,” said Trump’s attorney, Republican former Secretary of State Scott Gessler. “There are millions of people in Colorado and across this country who are inspired by President Trump. … Who are the petitioners to prevent those people from not being able to vote” for him?
Attorney Harmeet Dhillon trumpeted the ruling.
💥My incredible partners at @dhillonlaw defeated the challenge to President Trump being on the ballot in yet another state, Colorado!! I was on the phone moments ago with partner David Warrington when the news came through. Kudos to our team, local counsel and President Trump!!! https://t.co/KYtO3dBltf
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) November 17, 2023
“My incredible partners at @dhillonlaw defeated the challenge to President Trump being on the ballot in yet another state, Colorado!!” she wrote. “I was on the phone moments ago with partner David Warrington when the news came through. Kudos to our team, local counsel and President Trump!!!”
Wallace had gone further than any other judge who had made a ruling in determining Trump’s 2024 eligibility. Her decision was based on her uncertainty that Trump was “an officer of the United States,” as the authors of the 14th Amendment intended. Wallace was unable to disqualify Trump because that link in the chain was broken.
The rest of her ruling refuted Trump’s attempt to trash the findings of the congressional committee that examined the Jan. 6 attack. The committee, comprised of seven Democratic and two Republican members, concluded that Trump was to blame for the insurgency. Trump’s attorneys said the committee members were prejudiced from the start, and their report was untrustworthy.
Nonetheless, the 102-page ruling gave a scathing indictment of Trump’s behavior leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol, and Wallace decided Trump did, in fact, foment an insurgency to prevent President Joe Biden’s election from being certified.
“Trump cultivated a culture that embraced political violence through his consistent endorsement of the same,” she described. “He responded to growing threats of violence and intimidation in the lead-up to the certification by amplifying his false claims of election fraud. He convened a large crowd on the date of the certification in Washington, D.C., focused them on the certification process, told them their country was being stolen from them, called for strength and action, and directed them to the Capitol where the certification was about to take place.”
This is, obviously, a slanted interpretation of the facts. Donald Trump had the same right to legally challenge the election as any other political candidate. The Democratic Party legally challenged elections in 2000, 2004, and 2016. Whether or not the candidate was correct that the election was “stolen,” is immaterial; he still has the right to make such claims, just as 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton did on multiple occasions.
The Democratic Party’s false claims about the 2016 election being “stolen” by an alleged traitor who colluded with Russia, a brazen lie perpetuated by Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton, and leading to campaign surveillance and numerous investigations, actually sparked rioting in Washington D.C. during Trump’s inauguration.
The Democrats’ negative attacks on Donald Trump also fomented Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests outside the White House that drove the president into a nuclear bunker.
Holding an elected official accountable for commonplace political speech that some extremists use as a pretext to riot would be unprecedented, and undoubtedly, politicians from across the spectrum would have to be banned from public office if this were an actual legal standard. And it is not one.
There are also a number of glaring issues with the J6 “insurrection” narrative.
Donald Trump would never ask for 10,000 more National Guard troops at the Electoral College if he planned to stay in power. Trump’s former Pentagon chief Christopher Miller and retired four-star General Kellogg testified this was the case.
Why would former President Donald Trump do this and then direct political extremists to lead an “insurrection” against the U.S. government?
Once the votes were “certified,” Trump announced on January 7 that he would be stepping down on January 20, which he did. Thus, he did not attempt to illegally “stay in power.”
On Friday, new Speaker Mike Johnson released what he claimed were “all” the January 6 surveillance tapes.
It became readily apparent why the January 6 committee under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s tenure had refused to release the footage.
Many videos have already surfaced that run contrary to the narrative that all of the Trump supporters who entered the capitol posed an existential threat to the country and were trying to “overturn the election.” Of course, it goes without saying that there were violent rioters on January 6.
The issue is that the rioters gave advance warning they were coming; there were agents provocateurs like Ray Epps and John Earle Sullivan; the FBI had monitored extremist groups for months ahead of January 6, even violating constitutional rights in the process; none of the protesters brandished a firearm in the Capitol building; there were no means to seize and to hold power in the face of the strongest military in the world, and then Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump would know that; a Time article on the shadowy cabal that “fortified” the election stated the there was already a narrative set in March 2020 that Trump would “incite” a riot if he lost the election; and despite warnings from intelligence and law enforcement, time and time again, requests for more National Guard, even from Donald Trump himself, fell on deaf ears.
Then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Then-Senate Majority Leader McConnell did nothing to secure the Electoral College, where they knew there would be objections to the states’ slates of electors. This process is what Donald Trump was actually advocating for and that is why he urged his actual supporters to “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard; meanwhile, there had already been suspect incursions at the capitol before his supporters could even make it from his speech to the Capitol building.
It never added up. And that is why the videos had been suppressed.
It was a riot — just like the Pro-Palestinian riot at the DNC earlier this week, the George Floyd riots, and the J20 riot at Trump’s inauguration.
The bottom line, however, is that the judge ruled correctly. Donald Trump cannot legally be struck from the 2024 president ballot based on the J6 “insurrection” narrative.