Trump demands recusal of Maine secretary of state in 14th Amendment determination

Trump demands recusal of Maine secretary of state in 14th Amendment determination

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Former President Trump on Wednesday demanded the Maine secretary of state recuse herself from her upcoming decision on the former president’s ballot eligibility under the 14th Amendment, citing her past statements about the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Unlike other states, where plaintiffs have sued over Trump’s eligibility in court, Maine’s system first allows the secretary of state to weigh in. Challengers can then appeal in state court.

In response to three petitions challenging Trump’s ballot eligibility, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, is set to issue a decision in the coming days.

On Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers wrote Bellows a letter demanding she disqualify herself over three tweets she previously issued referencing Jan. 6, including those in which she described the attack as an insurrection.

The 14th Amendment prohibits someone from holding “any office … under the United States” if they “engaged in insurrection” after taking an oath to support the Constitution.

“Using similar language, the Challengers have claimed that the events of January 6, 2021, constituted a violent insurrection and that President Trump somehow poses a danger from which Maine voters must be protected. Thus, the Secretary has already passed judgment on the Challengers’ core assertions,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the letter.

The Hill has reached out to Bellows’s office for comment.

The letter cites two social media posts Bellows issued the day Trump was acquitted in his second impeachment trial, which concerned the Capitol riot.

“The Jan 6 insurrection was an unlawful attempt to overthrow the results of a free and fair election. Today 57 Senators including King & Collins found Trump guilty. That’s short of impeachment but nevertheless an indictment. The insurrectionists failed, and democracy prevailed,” Bellows wrote on Twitter, the platform now known as X.

The letter also takes aim at a post Bellows issued on the one-year anniversary of Jan. 6, in which she reposted a news report highlighting Bellows’s efforts to protect election workers.

“One year after the violent insurrection, it’s important to do all we can to safeguard our elections,” Bellows wrote.

Challenges to Trump’s ballot eligibility have been mounted in states across the country. Earlier on Wednesday, Michigan’s top court denied a 14th Amendment challenge, and similar lawsuits have been rejected in places including Minnesota.

In Colorado, however, the state’s top court became the first to declare Trump ineligible for the state’s primary ballot, in a case expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court within days.

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