Donald Trump should be disqualified from running for president again due to his role in the 2021 assault on the United States Capitol, lawyers have argued, citing an insurrection clause in the Constitution.
The former president, who currently enjoys a commanding lead in the race to be the Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, should be barred from running on the grounds that he “incited a violent mob” on January 6, 2021, it was claimed as a trial opened in a Colorado courtroom on Monday.
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The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington advocacy group has launched a lawsuit seeking to use a Civil War-era provision of the US Constitution barring anyone who has engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding federal office.
The group hopes to block Trump from running in Colorado’s ballot, and that the test case could then help bar his way to running in other states.
“Trump incited a violent mob to attack our Capitol, to stop the peaceful transition of power,” Eric Olson, a lawyer representing the group, said in an opening statement before a Colorado District Court judge.
Trump spent the weeks before the riot spreading false claims that voter fraud had been widespread in the November 2020 election, which he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.
Encouraging his supporters to rally in Washington, DC, he used a speech to direct them to the US Capitol, where Congress was certifying Biden’s win. Only after hours of violence did he appeal to the rioters to go home.
A lawyer for Trump denied that the former president incited supporters to violence and said it would set a dangerous precedent to disqualify him based on “legal theories that have never been embraced by a state or federal court”.
Trump faces similar lawsuits in Michigan and Minnesota. The Colorado case is the first to go to trial.
However, legal experts suggest that the strategy is a long shot, especially given that the Supreme Court, dominated by a 6-3 conservative majority that includes three Trump appointees, would have the final say.
Trump is maintaining a large lead in the race to be the Republican candidate, according to polls, despite four separate criminal indictments against him.