Former Attorney General Bill Barr has denounced the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling disqualifying Trump from the state’s ballot. Barr referred to the decision as a ‘Procedural Frankenstein,’ asserting that it lacks legal credibility and constitutional support.
The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that Donald Trump’s involvement in the events of January 6 renders him ineligible for the presidency, citing the 14th Amendment. This amendment prohibits individuals engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States from holding any office. In response, Trump’s campaign has announced plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It’s important to highlight that in a court of law, Donald Trump has not been pronounced guilty of any charges related to January 6.
During a conversation with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Barr acknowledged his opposition to Trump’s candidacy but contended that the Colorado case is legally flawed. He expressed concern that employing such aggressive legal tactics against Trump might have unintended consequences, potentially reinforcing his narrative of grievance.
“Well, as you know, I strongly oppose Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, but I think that this case is legally wrong and untenable,” Barr said.
“I think this kind of action of stretching the law, taking these hyper-aggressive positions to try to knock Trump out of the race, are counterproductive. They backfire. As you know, he feeds on grievance just like a fire feeds on oxygen, and this is going to end up as a grievance that helps him,” he added.
Tapper emphasized the district court’s conclusions that Trump incited violence at the Capitol. Nevertheless, Barr challenged the court’s authority to reach such determinations without due process, arguing that it deprived Trump of a fair opportunity to contest the allegations. Barr underscored the lack of a jury, restricted subpoena power, and reliance on hearsay from the January 6 committee hearings.
“I disagree with the court’s ability to make those findings. The core problem here is the denial of due process. To deprive somebody of the right to hold public office requires due process. It requires an adjudication of two core issues,” Barr said.
“One, was there an insurrection? Did the public disturbance rise to the level of an insurrection? And second, what was the role of the individual in there? Was it engagement? Did they do something to break their oath of office?” he added.
“Those are complicated facts, and this was denied due process. It was a five-day hearing. There was no jury. It was before the judge. They were not able to subpoena witnesses and compel the attendance of witnesses. They relied on the hearings, the January 6 committee hearings, which are mostly hearsay,” he continued.
“There was no right to cross-examine during those hearings and so forth, as the dissent said. And by the way, the three democratic justices who dissented, their opinions, I think, are masterful. And as they pointed out, they said the process here was a procedural Frankenstein,” Barr said.
Barr anticipates that if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to weigh in on the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling, it would probably swiftly overturn the decision. His critique revolves around a core issue of denying due process and mishandling the 14th Amendment. According to Barr, the amendment necessitates federal enforcement rather than relying on state proceedings conducted in an ad hoc manner.
“I think if they take it up, they’re going to slap it down very quickly, and I hope they do take it up quickly and slap it down because otherwise he could be left off the ballot in this primary,” Barr stated.
Jake Trapper asked, “So if I’m hearing you correctly, you’re not even saying that you disagree necessarily with what the district court and then the Colorado Supreme Court found in terms of insurrection. You just think it’s the wrong process?”
Barr replied, “Legally, the denial of due process is fatal here. But as you alluded to in your opening comments, the 14th amendment is not something that can be applied willy-nilly by the states through sort of ad hoc proceedings. It was contemplated that the federal government set up the enforcement mechanism. So you have some standards.”
The former Attorney General also delved into the potential political fallout stemming from the ruling. Barr suggested that the decision might lead to confusion and inconsistency among states concerning the eligibility of national candidates. He underscored the critical need to uphold the rule of law and due process in such matters.
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