Key Highlights from Day One of Colorado Trial on Trump’s 2024 Ballot Eligibility
The central question of whether former President Donald Trump incited the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, is being examined in a Colorado courtroom. The case aims to determine Trump’s eligibility for the state’s 2024 presidential ballot based on the 14th Amendment’s “insurrection clause.”
The Plaintiff’s Argument
Attorney Eric Olson, representing Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and six Colorado voters, contended that Trump’s actions on January 6 disrupted the constitutional process and thus make him unfit for future presidency. Olson outlined four key elements: Trump took an oath, the Capitol attack was an insurrection, Trump was involved, and the Colorado Secretary of State should be directed to exclude him from the ballot.
The Defense’s Stance
Trump’s legal team, led by attorney Scott Gessler, countered that the lawsuit is an “anti-democratic” form of “election interference.” They criticized the plaintiff’s reliance on the House committee’s report on the January 6 riot, describing it as “poison.”
California Congressman Eric Swalwell testified about his experiences during the Capitol attack. During cross-examination, Trump’s legal team questioned Swalwell’s motives, citing a personal injury lawsuit he has against Trump.
The Judge’s Role
Colorado Judge Sarah Wallace is presiding over the bench trial and will be the sole arbiter of its outcome. She rejected Trump’s request to recuse herself due to a past donation to a Democratic PAC.
Law Enforcement and Expert Witnesses
D.C. Metropolitan Police officer Daniel Hodges testified about the mob’s allegiance to Trump, recalling chants of “Fight for Trump.” Capitol Police Officer Winston Pingeon also testified, and experts on political extremism are expected to appear later in the trial.
Similar Cases in Other States
Trump is facing comparable lawsuits in Michigan and Minnesota. The Colorado case is the first to go to trial, and it’s highly likely that one of these cases will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never ruled on the 14th Amendment’s “insurrection clause.”
The trial is expected to delve into nine topics, including the definitions of “engaged” and “insurrection” within the context of the 14th Amendment. Trump’s legal team questioned the novelty of such challenges, stating that similar cases have either never been filed or were quickly dismissed.