On Wednesday, a Colorado judge denied the former president Donald Trump’s request to use a clause from an amendment signed following the Civil War to stop voters from trying to prevent him from being listed on the ballot in 2024.
On the third day of the trial, Denver District Court Judge Sarah Wallace informed Trump’s attorneys that she wished to allow the trial to go on in order to hear additional evidence. CNN stated that she was interested in hearing about how Trump’s First Amendment rights were upheld for his speech on January 6, 2021, which preceded a riot at the U.S. Capitol Building. The lawsuit’s plaintiffs contend that the former president’s remarks constituted a “call to violence,” despite the fact that throughout his speech, Trump expressly advised supporters to stage “peaceful” protests at the Capitol before Congress votes to officially certify Joe Biden’s candidacy for president in 2020.
CNN further noted:
With that, Trump began his defense case, featuring testimony from former Pentagon official Kash Patel and former Trump campaign adviser Katrina Pierson, who helped organize the January 6 rally.
It all played out one day before a separate challenge will be heard in Minnesota, where another advocacy group filed a similar lawsuit hoping to remove Trump from the 2024 ballot. Oral arguments are scheduled for Thursday at the Minnesota Supreme Court to weigh Trump’s spot on the state’s ballot.
In an effort to prevent Trump from winning, voters are citing a clause from the 14th Amendment that states that someone is ineligible to hold public office if they have “engaged in insurrection.” Since the clause has only been invoked twice since 1919 and does not specify how to implement such a ban, many experts say that there is little chance of success in court for the attempt to block Trump.
CNN said that she intends to make a decision by Thanksgiving.
According to CNN, some conclusions from the Colorado trial thus far are as follows:
— “The challengers are six GOP and independent voters, whose lawsuit has the backing of a DC-based watchdog group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. They wrapped up their case Wednesday with testimony from one of the leading scholars on the 14th Amendment, who said the insurrection ban applies ‘broadly’ and covers ‘words of incitement.’”
— The expert, law professor Gerard Magliocca of Indiana University, testified that he thinks Trump is ineligible. He had studied the amendment for years prior to the 2020 election, including the discussion over its wording in Congress, Justice Department memos about how it was applied during the Reconstruction Era, and relevant court cases. He informed the court that state courts had already upheld the 14th Amendment and that he believed it should be applied widely, including against presidents.
— In the meantime, Trump’s witnesses denied claims that he was neglecting his presidential duties and that he had hoped his followers would turn violent. In a conference a few days prior to the incident, he also disclosed to the court that top Pentagon officials believed on January 6 that the then-president “had authorized the National Guard troops we needed.”
— Later, Pierson, who coordinated the Elllipse rally on January 6 and functioned as a liaison between the Trump White House and organizers, testified that she made an effort to keep “fringe” members of the president’s inner circle away from the formal event.
“She said she worked to exclude right-wing conspiracy theorists Alex Jones and Ali Alexander, who were ‘known for being over-the-top in their rhetoric, whether it be conspiracy or outright chaos.’ A deal was struck for them to headline a rally on January 5 instead, while Trump would speak on January 6,” CNN added.
— Prior to the trial starting, Scott Gessler, the attorney for Trump, requested a “directed verdict” from Wallace stating that since the plaintiffs had not established their case, Trump should remain on the ballot. But that was rejected by her.
— Citing a Supreme Court ruling that states speech is protected under the First Amendment unless it immediately results in lawless action, Gensler further contended that there is no evidence “that shows that President Trump in any manner, in any way, incited an insurrection, incited violence, or incited a riot.”
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