Donald Trump’s legal team sought this week to move a lawsuit filed by a top ethics watchdog seeking to bar him from office to federal court.
But that strategy may not be successful for the former president, who could be facing the most serious threat yet to his 2024 chances.
On Wednesday, Washington’s top ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) announced the beginning of a major bid to block Donald Trump from winning the 2024 election by seeking his disqualification from the ballot under the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment. The plan hinges on language barring those who gave “aid or comfort” to a rebellion or insurrection from holding any state or federal office.
Multiple news outlets reported this week that Mr Trump’s legal team had filed a motion on Thursday seeking that the lawsuit be remanded to federal court. But NBC News reports that in a motion filed a day later, the Trump team appeared to be unwilling to contest the lawsuit remaining in state court, after apparently reconsidering their legal standing.
The lawsuit could very well be the beginning of a new, massive legal fight for Mr Trump — and may put his ability to win the Republican nomination or 2024 general election in serious jeopardy, depending on how successful the lawsuits launched by CREW and its allies end up being.
Mr Trump complained on Thursday that attempts to use the 14th Amendment’s clause disqualifying supporters of insurrection was a type of “election interference”, which is technically true but no less legal; the Constitution has very clearly forbade those who rebelled against the US government from serving since the aftermath of the US Civil War, and the disqualification clause has already been successfully utilised to block a participant of the January 6 attack on Congress from serving in a state-level position in New Mexico.
The former president notably never showed up on Capitol Hill after promising the mobs of his supporters who attacked the complex that he would be there to support them. Nevertheless, he has been accused of supporting them in both word and deed, through his speeches and addresses leading up to and during the attack and by refusing to call in the DC National Guard (which reports directly to the Executive Branch) during the attack.
In addition to the effort to bar him from appearing on the 2024 presidential ballot in Colorado and other states, Mr Trump remains under four criminal indictments, accused of 91 felony counts. He has pleaded not guilty.
The cases relate to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, his alleged mishandling of classified documents and US defence secrets, as well as a 2016 hush money scheme involving a porn star.