The Biden administration’s announcement of a special prosecutor to investigate former President Donald Trump’s actions leading up to and during the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol could end with Trump declared ineligible to run against Biden in 2024.
Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar with the free-market Institute for Policy Innovation, writes in The Hill that Attorney General Merrick Garland may be laying the groundwork for an attempt to declare Trump engaged in “insurrection” and is therefore ineligible to serve in any federal office under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
“…the attorney general appears willing to proceed with efforts to keep Trump on the presidential sidelines,” writes Matthews, referring a January 10, 2021 meeting between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional Democrats to discuss declaring Trump ineligible to serve as president.
“Your views on the 25th Amendment, 14th Amendment Section 3 and impeachment are valued as we continue.” Section 3 is the Fourteenth Amendment’s Disqualification Clause,” said Pelosi at the time.
“(T)he most likely avenue would be to use the Fourteenth Amendment’s insurrection provision, which states in part, “No Person … shall hold any office … who, having previously taken an oath … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same. …,” writes Matthews.
And Garland may issue such a declaration without Trump being found guilty in a legal trial. A Congressional Research Service paper claims a declaration from the President or a vote of Congress may be all that is necessary to declare someone guilty of insurrection and therefore ineligible to serve in a federal office.
It also cites a ruling by a New Mexico state court that declared a local official present during the January 6 riots was guilty of insurrection, and removed him from elected office.
That could, theoretically, led to liberal activist judges at the state level issuing their own rulings Trump is an “insurrectionist” and move to remove him from state ballots.
Of any scenario in which Trump is ruled ineligible to challenge Biden, the likeliest is a jury based in Washington, D.C., where Trump got just 5.4 percent of the vote, finds Trump guilty of insurrection.
“In short, it’s likely no one knows how a Fourteenth Amendment challenge would work given the current circumstances. But the CRS does say Congress might enforce the Disqualification Clause by ‘relying on federal criminal prosecution for insurrection or treason.’ That’s where Garland might play a role, and it provides a reason why he would appoint a special counsel,” writes Matthews.
Matthews concludes by blasting any move to interfere with Trump’s effort to run for president again, noting “an attorney general has no business trying to ensure he can’t. If that’s Garland’s motive, he’s the one who should be on trial.”