Colorado District Judge Sarah Wallace heard arguments and witness testimony on Monday in a case arguing former President Donald Trump should be barred from the state ballot as he seeks to run for reelection.
The left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) argued that the events of Jan. 6, 2021, were a violent insurrection, and that the former president was a key cause. They said they have spent 10 months preparing the case, and have several expert witnesses to testify about the legal statute and President Trump’s speech, as well as witnesses of the day, including Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.).
Ahead of the trial, the judge asked both parties to present arguments on what constituted an “insurrection,” and what would constitute “engaging” in one.
“He didn’t carry a pitchfork to the Capitol,” said defense attorney Scott Gessler, adding that President Trump had asked people to protest “peacefully.”
He said experts are expected to argue that President Trump should have done more to prevent violence, but such arguments show that the former president’s actions are the opposite of “engaging.”
“None of his speech called for violence, none of it,” he added.
Ms. Gessler, who formerly served as the Colorado Secretary of State, has litigated three ballot law cases in Colorado.
He accused the six voters suing President Trump of “appointing” themselves officials who have the right to decide who people of the state can vote for.
“This lawsuit is anti-democratic,” he said. “We err on the side of letting people vote, that’s what the law says.”
The Colorado Republican Party has intervened, asking the court to allow voters to choose who to put on the ballot.
President Trump had met the party requirements to appear on the primary ballot, and Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a co-defendant in the case, had said the office does not have the authority to determine eligibility and will defer to the court’s decision.
Jan. 6 Report
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol produced a report with 411 findings, which is central to CREW’s case. Attorneys for the plaintiffs have asked to enter 408 of those findings as evidence.
Mr. Gessler opposed the use and reliance on the report, which has “little to no credibility.”
“This report is poison, and I mean poison very bluntly,” he said, accusing it of being a “partisan document” that “cherry picks” facts.
Much of the committee materials were made public between December 2022 and January 2023.
The 14th Amendment was ratified after the Civil War, which conferred citizenship and equal rights to all persons born or naturalized in the United States, with the intention of protecting the rights of all former slaves.
It included a section that barred those who had engaged in “insurrections of rebellions” against the nation from holding office, unless they had two-thirds approval from Congress.
Some states have already dismissed 14th Amendment cases arguing President Trump should be kept off the ballot, and additional cases may yet be brought forth.
In addition to Colorado, a similar trial begins this week in Minnesota on Thursday.
The first witness was Daniel Hodges, an officer of nine years with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C.
Nikhel Sus, attorney for the plaintiffs, sought to establish that the events of Jan. 6, 2021, at the capital constituted an insurrection.
He was stationed on Constitution Avenue on Jan. 6, 2021, and said he had been “uncomfortable, nervous” seeing that several members of the crowd listening to President Trump speak were “wearing tactical gear.” Ultimately, the events of that day were “incomparable” to anything else he had experienced in his time as an officer, Mr. Hodges said.
Mr. Hodges said he had been beaten, including in the head by his own riot baton, and pinned and crushed with a police shield. He said he believes he sustained a concussion and suffered headaches for two weeks afterward. An assailant had attempted to “gouge out” his eye with his thumb as well.
He referred to the crowd as a “mob,” which began to push toward the U.S. Capitol and “hurling insults” at officers, in what he interpreted as an attempt to prevent officers from protecting it. The size of the crowd made it impossible to arrest violent individuals, he explained, and therefore “the mob was the threat.”
He said he was afraid for his life and the lives of his colleagues and those in the Capitol, and “how it would affect our democracy.”
He said he saw flags referencing the American Revolution and Confederate flags from the Civil War, and people were chanting “fight for Trump.”
The cross-examination was brief, during which defense attorneys asked whether Mr. Hodges knew the specifics of how many people were present and that there were separate rallies elsewhere in the capital, which he was not aware of.
From The Epoch Times