Skip to Content

Major ruling looms after closing arguments in Trump 14th Amendment trial in Colorado

<i>Reba Saldanha/AP/FILE</i><br/>Former President Donald Trump greets the crowd at a campaign rally on Saturday
Reba Saldanha/AP/FILE
Former President Donald Trump greets the crowd at a campaign rally on Saturday

By Marshall Cohen, CNN

(CNN) — Closing arguments wrapped up Wednesday in Donald Trump’s disqualification trial in Colorado, paving the way for a state judge to decide by the end of this week whether the former president is barred from office under the 14th Amendment’s “insurrectionist ban.”

Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace is expected to issue a ruling on Thursday or Friday. She presided over a weeklong bench trial, where lawyers representing a group of Colorado voters argued that Trump – the current front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination – is ineligible for office and should be removed from the state’s 2024 ballot because he “engaged” in the US Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021.

Trump already beat back similar cases in New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Michigan, where a judge decided Tuesday to keep Trump on the Republican primary ballot. Legal experts have viewed these cases as a long shot to actually stop Trump’s campaign.

But the landscape might be different in Colorado. Those other cases were dismissed before reaching a trial. Wallace repeatedly rebuffed Trump’s attempts to throw out the Colorado case, and allowed the challengers to introduce a wide array of evidence against him, including some of the most damning findings from the House select committee that investigated the January 6 attack.

The 14th Amendment, which was ratified after the Civil War, says American officials who take an oath to support the Constitution are banned from future office if they “engaged in insurrection.” But the arcane provision doesn’t define “insurrection” and doesn’t spell out how to enforce the ban. It has only been applied twice since 1919.

“I wish we didn’t have to be here,” Sean Grimsley, an attorney for the challengers, said during closing arguments. “We’re here because, for the first time in our nation’s history, the President of the United States has engaged in insurrection against the Constitution. … And now he wants to be president again. The Constitution does not allow that.”

Trump denies wrongdoing regarding January 6 and has decried these 14th Amendment lawsuits as an abuse of the legal process. He is under federal and state indictment in connection with his attempts to overturn the 2020 election and has pleaded not guilty.

His attorney Scott Gessler told Wallace to ignore the findings from the “overwhelmingly biased” January 6 House panel and follow the lead of courts that have dismissed these lawsuits.

“The petitioners’ case, the foundation of it, is rotted,” he said. “It is a rotten foundation. The January 6 report was originally used for political purposes as sort of an election issue, and that has failed. Like it or not for the authors, President Trump remains a viable, and in many instances, considered a leading candidate for the presidency.”

In response, Grimsley said the Michigan judge “got it wrong” and argued that “a candidate’s popularity does not supersede the Constitution.”

An attorney for Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who oversees elections, didn’t take a position on Trump’s eligibility but disagreed with Trump’s argument that Griswold and Wallace lack the power to keep a disqualified candidate off the ballots.

No matter the outcome, appeals are expected, likely all the way to the Supreme Court.

The 2024 GOP nominating process kicks off in Iowa on January 15. Michigan is set to hold its primary in February, followed by Colorado and Minnesota on March 5, which is Super Tuesday. Election officials in some of these states have said these lawsuits need to have a final resolution by early January so they can start printing ballots on time.

“The fact that we managed to go 160 years without ever having to face this, at least on the presidential level, is a good and lucky thing,” Pressly Millen, a lawyer who brought a January 6-based candidacy challenge last year, told CNN. “But if one state rules a particular way, folks in other states are going to have to grapple with this too. It’s the Constitution. It’s not optional.”

Carol Rangel contributed to this report.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content