Former Attorney General Bill Barr said state efforts to pull former President Trump from primary ballots for the upcoming election are “counterproductive” and actually strengthening Trump’s chances of victory.
“Regardless of what I, you know, think of Trump and the fact that I oppose his renomination, I think he has to be beaten at the ballot box,” Barr told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Saturday. “And these heavy-handed efforts to disenfranchise his supporters, I think are counterproductive. If anything, they make him stronger.”
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to take up the case of whether Trump can be disqualified from appearing on Colorado’s ballot over his actions surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
The justices will hear the case on a quick timeline, with oral arguments scheduled for Feb. 8 and a decision that could either keep Trump on primary ballots or remove him both in Colorado and in states across the country.
Attorney General nominee Bill Barr arrives for a meeting with Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Jan. 26, 2019. The Judiciary panel is set to vote on Barr’s nomination Tuesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Barr, who served as attorney general for former President George H.W. Bush and again for Trump, predicted that the Supreme Court would take up Trump’s ballot case “very quickly” and thinks the justices will “smack it down very quickly.”
Barr, who doesn’t support Trump in the primary, focused his criticism on how the Colorado court’s decision was made, not its contents.
Trump’s future on the ballot is also threatened in Maine. The former president appealed a decision Tuesday by the secretary of state kicking him off the ballot, sending the case to state court.
Barr said he thinks as a legal matter, denying Trump the chance to be on a primary ballot is untenable.
“We can’t have all the states making their own rules as to what an insurrection is and how much evidence is needed to … make a determination that someone is engaged in an insurrection,” Barr said, adding that Congress must define how the 14th amendment should be enforced.
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In an op-ed published Tuesday in The Free Press, Barr argued the efforts to remove Trump from primary ballots are “doomed to legal failure.”
Dozens of challenges to Trump’s eligibility under the 14th Amendment have been filed nationwide, many of them rejected by lower courts. The decisions in Colorado and Maine are an extraordinary step in the election process.
The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the Colorado case now means the former president’s political fate rests in the hands of the conservative-majority court that includes three Trump appointees and will likely decide the meaning of the insurrection ban.
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