Advisors to former President Donald J. Trump are preparing Tuesday to challenge decisions in Colorado and Maine to disqualify Mr. Trump from the Republican primary vote over the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, according to a source. familiar with the subject.
In Maine, the challenge to the secretary of state’s decision to block Mr. Trump’s access to the ballot will be filed in state court. But the Colorado ruling, handed down by that state’s highest court, will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will likely face renewed pressure to rule on the issue .
On Thursday, Maine became the second state to exclude Mr. Trump from the primary vote due to challenges arising from Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which states that any officer of the United States sworn to uphold the Constitution cannot do it. “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against it, or given aid or comfort to its enemies. »
“Every state is different,” Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows told a local CBS affiliate Friday morning. “I took an oath to respect the Constitution. I have fulfilled my duty.
Mr. Trump has privately told some people that he believes the Supreme Court will rule overwhelmingly against the decisions in Colorado and Maine, according to a person familiar with what he said. But he also criticized the Supreme Court, to which he appointed three conservative justices, creating a supermajority. The court has generally shown little interest in Mr. Trump’s election-related cases.
Mr. Trump expressed concern that conservative judges fear being seen as “political” and might rule against him, according to a person with direct knowledge of his private comments.
Unlike the Colorado decision, which surprised many members of Mr. Trump’s team, the former president’s advisers had anticipated the Maine outcome for several days. They prepared a statement before the ruling and had most of their appeal brief written after the consolidated hearing Ms. Bellows held on Dec. 15, according to a person close to Mr. Trump.
People who challenged the vote have generally argued that Mr. Trump incited the insurrection when he encouraged supporters to whom he insisted the election was stolen to march to the Capitol as the 2020 electoral vote was being certified. The former president has been indicted on charges related to the possible attack on the Capitol, but he has not been criminally charged with “insurrection,” an argument his allies have repeatedly made.
On his social media site, Truth Social, Mr. Trump highlighted comments from Democrats who suggested they were uncomfortable with the ballot decisions.
In Maine, the decision was made unilaterally by Ms. Bellows after challenges were filed. Trump’s allies have repeatedly emphasized Ms. Bellows’ affiliation with the Democratic Party and the fact that she is not an elected official, but an appointee.
The two decisions created uncertain terrain in the race for the Republican nomination, with elections in early states set to begin Jan. 15, with the Iowa caucuses. Other election challenges could be filed in other states, although so far several of them have failed.
This week, a Wisconsin complaint seeking to remove Mr. Trump from the ballot was rejected, and California’s secretary of state said Mr. Trump would remain on the ballot in that state. According to the Lawfare website, 14 states have filed lawsuits aimed at impeaching Mr. Trump, with more expected to be filed. A decision is expected soon in a case in Oregon.
The decisions in Colorado and Maine require an additional focus of resources and attention from a Trump team that is already spread thin across four criminal indictments in four different states.
But two people close to Mr. Trump, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, described this reality as already being ingrained in the Trump team that has focused on legal issues for most of the past two years. They argued that in the short term, the former president would see political benefits comparable to those he saw when he was indicted: a rallying effect among Republicans.
Mr. Trump and his team attempted to summarize these cases into a single narrative that Democrats were engaged in a “witch hunt” against him, and they used the election lawsuits to suggest that Democrats were interfering in the election – a attempt to distract the other person. the tables given that Mr. Trump’s months-long efforts to undermine the 2020 election are at the heart of the legal and political arguments against him.
“Blue state Democrats are recklessly and unconstitutionally suspending the civil rights of American voters by attempting to summarily remove President Trump’s name from the ballots,” Mr. Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement. statement to the New York Times.
The election results have become yet another focus for mainstream and conservative news media, wasting the time and attention Mr. Trump’s main rivals, who trail him far behind in the polls, need to hope to catch up.
Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who is among those challenging Mr. Trump’s nomination, told CNN that the decision “makes him a martyr,” adding: “He’s very good at playing ‘Poor of me, poor me.” He always complains.
Due to a number of factors, it is unclear what practical effect efforts to exclude Mr. Trump from the primary ballots will have on the race for the Republican nomination. In the case of Colorado, where the state’s highest court overturned a lower court ruling and declared Mr. Trump ineligible for the primary, he remains on the ballot while he petitions the Supreme Court to intervene.
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