Donald Trump conveyed his elation in a weekend address following the court’s rejection of an effort to remove him from the 2024 Colorado primary ballot.
Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks and Obama administration acting solicitor general Neal Katyal have both indicated that the ruling would be exceedingly detrimental to the outgoing president.
State District Judge Sarah B. Wallace of Colorado ruled on Friday that President Trump engaged in acts of insurrection during the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol. Nevertheless, she disregarded an endeavor to obliterate Trump’s name from the state’s ballot, citing the ambiguity surrounding whether the constitutional amendment prohibiting insurrectionists from holding public office genuinely applies to the presidency, the highest office in the nation.
It was not accepted by Katyal.
“If I were to put the headline on Friday night, as an appeals lawyer, it would be this is the very worst decision Donald Trump could get from the trial court,” the former Department of Justice official told MSNBC’s Jen Psaki on Sunday. “Because it’s going to go on appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, perhaps the U.S. Supreme Court and there Trump is going to face extreme headwinds.”
Katyal drew attention to the differentiation that exists between the “factual finding” and the “legal part” of Wallace’s decision—which holds that it is not applicable to the presidency—and which asserts that Trump engaged in insurrection.
According to him, “the appeals court gives the factual findings enormous deference” because “a trial judge’s factual finding is nearly impossible to overturn.” Katyal clarified that the legal conclusions can be overturned as “that’s basically a fresh look at the legal thing.”
However, Wallace in this instance “factually made devastating findings against Trump and then looked at this weak legal technicality—that the president is not covered by the 14th Amendment—that even the judge acknowledged would be absurd.”
In a separate interview with MSNBC, seasoned Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks presented a comparable argument.
She declared that the judge’s ruling was “wrong on the law.”
“Of course on the facts she is right, and she made a factual finding that he is insurrectionist,” Wine-Banks added. “And that would bar him if he were an officer. And I believe that any higher court will find that it was the intent to bar such a person from holding the office of president and that he will be barred.”