CNN anchor Boris Sanchez asked the chair of Maine’s Republican Party seven times why it was wrong for the state to kick former President Trump off the ballot, as he repeatedly appeared to dodge the question.
Sanchez on Tuesday interviewed Maine GOP Chairman Joel Stetkis on CNN’s “News Central,” where he repeatedly pressed the Republican on why Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’s decision to boot Trump from the state’s ballot was wrong. Unsatisfied with Stetkis’s responses, Sanchez asked numerous times why Trump should remain on the ballot.
“I think the simplest way we can put this really is you know, we’ve got an unelected bureaucrat who likes to pretend that she’s a lawyer, and she’s literally taking away the voters’ choices in Maine,” Stetkis told Sanchez in his first response. ”You know, here in Maine and across the country, regardless of you know whether they like Donald Trump or not, you know, Bellows is wrong on so many levels, and it’s getting to the point of really being embarrassing.”
When pushed the second time on why she should not have issued the decision, Stetkis said, “Her decision process was just wrong.” Sanchez continued to ask Stetkis what his main argument was against the decision, but the GOP guest continued to sidestep the question.
“Well, this has so much more to do with the, you know, the suppression of the vote as opposed to Donald Trump. We would — we would oppose this decision, regardless of what Republican [was running]. She decided that she was going to arbitrarily decide Maine voters aren’t going to be allowed to …,” Stetkis said, before Sanchez jumped in again.
“You’re saying that it’s arbitrary, but what is it about her decision? What is it about her argument, legally, that you’re opposed to?” Sanchez asked.
“We’re just opposed to her taking away the rights of the voters to be able to choose the leader that they want to vote for or not,” Stetkis responded.
The two continued the back-and-forth. At one point, Stetkis told the CNN host that “no matter how many times, no matter how you’re asked, her decision is completely wrong.” When asked for the seventh and final time why the decision was wrong, Stetkis referred to other lawyers, who have “given plenty of legal argument on why that she’s wrong.”
Sanchez concluded the interview when he noted Stetkis did not answer what the legal argument was for his answer.
“I think there’s a legal argument to be made. It doesn’t seem like you have articulated the exact legal argument and the flaw that you see in her decision,” Sanchez said. “Nevertheless, Joel, we’re grateful to have you and get your perspective. Thank you so much for being with us.”
Mediaite first highlighted the repeated questioning.
Bellows announced her decision to remove Trump from Maine’s primary ballot last week — a move that Trump appealed Tuesday. Bellows argued the former president violated the insurrection clause of the 14th Amendment due to his actions on and leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the Capitol, which was grounds to expel him from the ballot.
“I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection,” Bellows wrote in her decision.
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