WASHINGTON, Nov 17 (Reuters) – A Colorado judge on Friday allowed Donald Trump to remain on the ballot in next year’s election, but ruled he “engaged in an insurrection” by initiating the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States. Capitol by his supporters.
The ruling by Judge Sarah Wallace, who will almost certainly appeal, rejects an attempt by a group of Colorado voters to disqualify Trump under a rarely used amendment to the U.S. Constitution that bars officials who engaged in an “insurrection” from holding federal office. .
The judge ruled that as president, Trump was not “an officer of the United States” who could be disqualified under the amendment.
The move is a victory for Trump, who faces a similar set of challenges to his candidacy. A Trump spokesperson said Friday the move was “another nail in the coffin of un-American election challenges.”
“The American voter has the constitutional right to vote for the candidate of their choice, with President Donald J. Trump overwhelmingly in the lead,” spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement.
Nonetheless, the judge concluded that Trump’s “conduct and words were the factual cause and a substantial contributing factor” to the attack on the Capitol. It found that Trump “engaged in an insurrection on January 6, 2021, by incitement.”
The Colorado case, brought by a group of voters aided by the watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, was the first to go to trial and was seen as a test case for a broader disqualification effort .
CREW President Noah Bookbinder said the group would appeal the decision.
“The court’s decision confirms what our clients have alleged in this lawsuit: that Donald Trump engaged in an insurrection based on his role on January 6,” Bookbinder said in a statement.
Lawyers for the voters argued that Trump engaged in an insurrection by spreading false claims of widespread voter fraud after his defeat in the 2020 presidential election, summoning his supporters to a rally in Washington and then urging them to march to the U.S. Capitol, where Congress was meeting. to certify the election results.
Thousands of Trump supporters then stormed the Capitol, attacking police and sending lawmakers running for their lives, in a failed attempt to stop the certification.
Trump’s lawyers have argued that the former president had no ties to the far-right groups that played a major role in the attack and that his comments before the riot were protected by his right to freedom of speech. ‘expression.
The ruling applies only to Republican presidential primary and general elections in Colorado. The state is considered safe Democratic by nonpartisan political forecasters for the general election.
The decision is the latest setback in efforts to disqualify Trump. Courts in Minnesota and Michigan rejected attempts to exclude him from the Republican primary ballot, but did not rule on his eligibility in the November 2024 general election.
Colorado’s decision can be appealed to the state Supreme Court and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court, whose 6-3 conservative majority includes three Trump appointees.
Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by Scott Malone, Daniel Wallis and Rosalba O’Brien
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