Seth Meyers reacts to the “convenient loophole” that Donald Trump’s lawyer was arguing in court for his client to stay in the presidential race – the same lawyer who also admitted in the same hearing that the insurrection was “criminal”.
During a Supreme Court oral arguments hearing on Thursday over whether Mr Trump should be allowed to stay on 2024 ballot papers based on the 14th Amendment’s insurrectionist clause, his lawyer, Jonathan Mitchell, dismissed that January 6 was an insurrection but did admit that it was a “riot” and called it “criminal.”
“We didn’t concede that it’s an effort to overthrow the government,” Mr Mitchell said during the hearing.
“This was a riot. It was not an insurrection. The events were shameful, criminal, violent, all of those things. But it did not qualify as insurrection.”
“Something tells me Trump isn’t exactly going to be thrilled with that argument,” Mr Meyers reacted. “It doesn’t really fit on a baseball cap: shameful, criminal, violent, but still eligible!”
The argument for Mr Trump to be removed from the election race is based on the 14th Amendment’s insurrectionist clause, which was put in place after the Civil War to stop former Confederates from entering the government.
The clause bars anyone who takes an oath to uphold the Constitution to hold any US office if they “engaged insurrection or rebellion against the same”.
Mr Mitchell wrote to the court that Mr Trump “did not lead, direct, or encourage any of the unlawful acts that occurred at the Capitol”. Despite that, he also added that the insurrection clause would not apply to him anyway as he was not “an officer of the US states” as written in the clause of the 14th Amendment.
He claimed that the “presidency is excluded from office under the United States”.
“Bit of a gerrymandered rule, isn’t it? Designed to benefit only your client?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked.
“I certainly wouldn’t call it gerrymandered,” Mr Mitchell replied.
“It is funny to imagine that the drafters of the 14th Amendment somehow specifically exempted Donald Trump, of all people,” Mr Meyers said in reaction to Mr Mitchell’s arguments.
He then jokingly pretended that the Amendment had a specific clause that very oddly described someone who sounded very much like Mr Trump.
“That would explain why they added a clause saying: ‘Any person who engages in insurrection shall be barred from office unless said person is a boisterous and irksome real estate financier with peculiar physical features and a bizarre obsession with winged creatures slain by a wind-producing apparatus who once hosted a reality competition programme on television or whatever that is.”
The Late Show mocked the lawyer for also admitting his own argument over whether the former president should be immune from the 14th Amendment was a little odd.
After being questioned by Justice Elena Kagan about the very convenient rule Mr Mitchell is arguing, the lawyer said: “It does seem odd that President Trump would fall through the cracks in a sense.”
“It’s not great that as a lawyer, you just admit in court your argument is weird,” the show host said.
Donald Trump himself also made some ironic statements in an interview on the John Fredericks Show about the case, saying that removing him from the race would be a “very terrible thing to do. It’s about the vote. It’s about our Constitution... you can’t take the votes away from the people... that would be so bad for democracy.”
“That’s what you did. That’s why this case is happening in the first place!” Mr Meyers said with a raised voice.
“Without any sense of irony or self-awareness, he claimed it would be an attack on democracy to remove him from the ballot – for attacking democracy,” the show host stated.
Judges in Colorado and Maine’s secretary of state have already determined that January 6 did amount to an insurrection, with Mr Trump, president at the time, at the centre of it, but it is up to the Supreme Court how they choose to tackle this debate across all states in the US.