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Trump and the insurrection 

We need to uphold the laws of this country, even amid threats of 'chaos and bedlam'

Some people think the U.S. Supreme Court should rule to prevent states from banning Donald Trump from their ballots. So far, at least 35 states have made formal challenges to Trump's presidential candidacy. Currently, Colorado's Supreme Court and Maine's secretary of state have determined that Trump should be banned from running for office because of his participation in the Jan. 6 attack on our Capitol. Trump has challenged these decisions and they are now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. I wholeheartedly believe that the states' rulings should be upheld.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states that any public officer who has engaged in an insurrection or who has provided aid and comfort to any insurrectionist should not be able to hold public office. (This clause is little known because it has had to be used only a few times since being added to our Constitution after the Civil War. Thankfully our country has not gone through any insurrections since.) In addition, it does not state any requirement of a guilty conviction in a court of law for a person to be banned from holding office. Nevertheless, there are mounds of evidence against Trump from a variety of sources including from the U.S. House of Representatives Jan. 6 Committee findings, which included 10 hearings and evidence consisting of recorded video footage, cellphone records, and interviews from more than 1,000 witnesses—including many of Trump's closest aides, police officers, and rioters. There is also additional evidence from the special counsel's investigation leading to four federal indictments and from Trump's impeachment proceedings by the House of Representatives.

Some people have questioned whether the Jan. 6 attack on the capital was an "insurrection." Here is the Britannica definition: "An organized and usually violent act of revolt or rebellion against an established government or governing authority of a nation-state or other political entity by a group of its citizens or subjects; also, any act of engaging in such a revolt." If one still trusts their own eyes, they can plainly see that the events at our U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were violent. A great number of people were injured, including 174 police officers. Death resulted. Within weeks, five officers who had been there died, including four by suicide. There was millions of dollars' worth of property damage. Was this attack against our government? No doubt whatsoever.

The most important questions are: Was Trump involved and to what extent? The answer to the first is definitely, yes, even though the full extent of his involvement has not yet been discovered. What has been discovered is that he was engaged in this insurrection before, during, and after it. He used his lies with the intent to prime his gullible supporters and to summon them to the Capitol on Jan. 6, like a Pied Piper.

According to a report by CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington): "One hundred and seventy-four defendants from 37 states who were charged for their participation in the insurrection have said they were answering Donald Trump's calls when they traveled to Washington and joined the violent attack on the capital [sic]." On that day, he knew the mob was armed and was threatening violence, but he demanded security staff to clear check points close to the Capitol building. In his speech, he told these thugs to "fight like hell" and then he insisted that he join them, only to be reluctantly taken away by members of his secret service. More than three hours elapsed before he took any action to call his followers away, and then he tweeted to them, "We Love You, You're Very Special."

In Colorado, both a district court and the state's Supreme Court determined that the attack was an insurrection and that Trump participated in it. The state Supreme Court then determined Section 3 of the 14th Amendment did apply to a U.S. president. Maine's secretary of state, after presiding over an administrative hearing in which a bipartisan group of former state lawmakers challenged Trump's eligibility, determined the same thing. Both parties involved declared that they did not reach these conclusions lightly. The Colorado court's majority wrote: "We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach."

Our country needs to uphold our Constitution and our laws for all citizens, especially our elected representatives. Yes, removing Trump from the ballot is an extraordinary act, but these are extraordinary circumstances. These states' actions against Trump are not fueled by partisan passions but by a passionate desire to protect our democracy. We need to stand up for our country and our cherished Democracy by not allowing dangerous people like him to threaten us with "chaos and bedlam" if we hold them accountable for their actions.

(And John Donegan, Al Gore's action to peacefully and legally challenge his election results in Florida in 2000 is in no way comparable to Trump's recent engagement in the 2021 insurrection. That slippery slope argument is a poor one.) Δ

Kathy Riedemann writes to New Times from Los Osos. Respond with a letter to the editor or commentary for publication by emailing it to [email protected].

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