"You don't get to lead a government you tried to destroy": 40 Dems introduce bill to block Trump run

"The 14th Amendment makes clear that Donald Trump is disqualified from ever holding federal office again," Dem says

Published December 16, 2022 11:30AM (EST)

Donald Trump (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Donald Trump (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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More than 40 House Democrats introduced legislation Thursday aiming to bar former President Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot, citing the 14th Amendment clause prohibiting insurrectionists from holding federal office.

"Donald Trump very clearly engaged in an insurrection on January 6, 2021 with the intention of overturning the lawful and fair results of the 2020 election," Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., the lead sponsor of the new bill, said in a statement. "You don't get to lead a government you tried to destroy."

"Even Mitch McConnell admits that Trump bears responsibility, saying on the Senate floor that '[t]here's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,'" Cicilline added. "The 14th Amendment makes clear that based on his past behavior, Donald Trump is disqualified from ever holding federal office again and, under Section 5, Congress has the power to pass legislation to implement this prohibition."

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment bars from federal office anyone who, "having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."

Section 5 states that "Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."

Cicilline introduced the new bill with the original backing of 40 House Democrats, including Reps. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif.

None of the top members of the House Democratic leadership have signed onto the legislation thus far, and it's not clear whether it will be allowed a floor vote before Republicans take control of the chamber next month.

Cicilline unveiled the legislation a month after Trump formally announced his 2024 presidential bid even as he faced numerous federal and state investigations into his fraud-riddled business practices and central role in the January 6 insurrection, which the former president helped provoke with incessant lies about the 2020 election.

In the immediate wake of Trump's 2024 announcement, the advocacy groups Free Speech for People and Mi Familia Vota launched a campaign urging top state election officials across the country to "follow the mandate of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and bar Trump from any future ballot."

"Secretaries of State have a duty to ensure that candidates who seek to appear on their state ballots meet the constitutional qualifications for serving in public office," Alexandra Flores-Quilty, campaign director for Free Speech for People, said in a statement last month. "Donald Trump violated his oath of office when he incited and engaged in a violent insurrection on January 6, 2021 in an effort to overturn a democratic election."

"The U.S. Department of Justice must hold Trump accountable for the multiple crimes that he has committed in connection with the January 6th insurrection, but secretaries of state and chief election officials have a separate responsibility to hold Trump accountable under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment," Flores-Quilty added. "People all across the country can join this campaign to fight to uphold Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and bar Trump from the ballot."

In a tweet Thursday, Free Speech for People pointed to a new poll showing that a majority of Americans believe Trump's recent call for "termination" of election rules in the U.S. Constitution should disqualify him from the 2024 ballot.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), meanwhile, has vowed to pursue legal action to disqualify Trump from the 2024 ballot.

In September, CREW secured the removal of Otero County, New Mexico Commissioner Couy Griffin from office over his role in the January 6 insurrection. A New Mexico judge ruled that Griffin was disqualified from holding office under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

CREW said last month that the same standard should apply to Trump.

"The evidence that Trump engaged in insurrection is overwhelming," said Noah Bookbinder, the president of CREW. "We are ready, willing, and able to take action to make sure the Constitution is upheld and Trump is prevented from holding office."

By Jake Johnson

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