Donald Trump was an insurrectionist, extremism expert testifies: A trial is currently underway to determine whether former President Trump should be disqualified from the 2024 ballot under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Donald Trump Might Have a Ballot Issue Soon
A trial began this week in Colorado, following a lawsuit by a liberal group in Washington and a group of Colorado voters, arguing that former President Donald Trump should not be allowed on the ballot in 2024. The reasoning behind the suits is that Trump is blocked from the ballot due to his participation in January 6 which, according to one interpretation, would violate the 14th Amendment.
Already, there has been testimony in the case from an extremism expert that Trump should indeed be considered an insurrectionist.
According to Colorado Newsline, the trial this week featured testimony by an expert, Pete Simi, who has studied extremism for more than 20 years.
Simi testified that Trump’s rhetoric “ultimately resulted in the attack on the Capitol.” He specifically referenced Trump’s references to “1776” in connection with efforts to overturn the election result.
“It would have a certain meaning to outsiders,” Simi said. “But insiders would understand and interpret that word differently.”
In hours of testimony, Simi shared other instances of Trump sharing violent rhetoric, including the “very fine people” comment after the deadly Charlottesville rally, his encouragement of police to rough up protesters, and his “will be wild” tweet ahead of the January 6 rally.
“Far-right extremists really were galvanized by his candidacy starting in 2015,” Simi said at the trial. “And a relationship really emerged between Donald Trump and far-right extremists, with far-right extremists really seeing him as speaking their language, and really addressing many of their key grievances.”
Simi, ironically, works at Chapman University, whose law school is the former employer of John Eastman, an attorney who was one of the reputed masterminds of the effort to overturn the election result. Eastman, a longtime conservative lawyer who has been indicted as part of the Georgia RICO case, retired from Chapman shortly after January 6.
CNN reported further about the second day of the trial, which Trump has not attended in person. Nor has the former president spoken much publicly about the Colorado lawsuit.
Trump’s attorney played a video of several other Democrats, including President Biden, talking about “fighting.”
CNN added that Donald Trump has sued to beat back a similar disqualification challenge in Michigan.
“Despite President Trump’s tremendous popularity, there are people who want to deny Michigan voters the opportunity to express their choice by voting for him,” Trump’s lawyers said in the Michigan filing. “To accomplish this, they want the Secretary of State to violate her duties and exercise powers she does not have to keep President Trump’s name off of the ballot.
Scheduled to testify later is Gerard Magliocca, an expert on the 14th Amendment. He had earlier testified about a hearing seeking to disqualify Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) from the ballot for similar reasons, although those efforts were ultimately not successful.
Another hearing is scheduled for later this week in Minnesota, for another suit seeking to remove Trump from the ballot in that state.
The plaintiffs in the Colorado suit are the liberal group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), along with some voters in Colorado, some of whom are former Republican elected officials in that state.
“Four years after taking an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution as President of the United States … Trump tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 election, leading to a violent insurrection at the United States Capitol to stop the lawful transfer of power to his successor,” the Colorado suit says, per an AP report prior to the start of the trial.
“By instigating this unprecedented assault on the American constitutional order, Trump violated his oath and disqualified himself under the Fourteenth Amendment from holding public office, including the Office of the President.”
Author Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.
From the Vault