A look at the Trump trial in Colorado

A trial for a lawsuit brought by the Colorado Central Republican Committee against Donald Trump in Colorado started Monday, October 30, 2023.  It is continuing through the week.

How fitting that this case goes to trial during Halloween week — as a Colorado Republican who knows some backstory it strikes me as a spooky attempt by Trump-haters to make an end run around the U.S. Constitution to get Trump.  It is also lawfare.

My purpose here is to give some context, not to give details of the actual trial.  From what I’ve seen so far, the petitioners are putting on a fairly good case, but the Trump team is also poking a lot of holes in it.

 Readers can go to CSPAN, which is filming the trial live.  CSPAN posts that the purpose of the trial as “whether the 14th Amendment’s ‘insurrection ban’ can be used to prevent former President Donald Trump from appearing on Colorado’s presidential election ballots.”

Four teams with numerous attorneys introduced themselves at the beginning of the trial: petitioners, led by Eric Olsen; President Donald Trump’s team, led by Scott Gessler, former Colorado secretary of state; interveners on the Republican State Central Committee, led by Jane Raskin; and the State of Colorado team, led by the Colorado attorney general staff for Jena Griswold, current Colorado secretary of state and a Democrat.

The Honorable Sarah B. Wallace, Denver District Court judge, is presiding over the trial, which has no jury.  According to coverage by The Denver Post of the first day of trial, President Trump’s team asked Judge Wallace to recuse herself because she donated money to The Colorado Turnout Project, which states on its website that it aims to prevent violent insurrections, to turn the state blue, and “to build robust networks of opposition” to three remaining Republican representatives in the state.  (One-party rule in Colorado, anyone?)

Judge Wallace refused to recuse herself, saying she doesn’t recall that donation but that she meant to donate to an individual.  (Then she does remember?)  A Colorado Politics article quotes Judge Wallace, who expects to decide the case by the end of November.  “I can assure all of the litigants that prior to the start of this litigation and to this day, I have formed no opinion whether the events of Jan. 6 constituted an insurrection.”

Let’s hope that Judge Wallace has represented herself honestly at the beginning of this trial and that she will render a just verdict, or one that can be appealed, soon.  An appeal may go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A Colorado Newsline story published in September 2023, when the lawsuit was first filed, lists who filed it.  It was Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on behalf of six Colorado voters: “former Republican U.S. representative from Rhode Island Claudine (Cmarada) Schneider, who now lives in Colorado; former Colorado House and Senate Majority Leader Norma Anderson, an unaffiliated voter who recently left the Republican Party; Denver Post columnist and Republican activist Krista Kafer; Michelle Priola, Kathi Wright, and Christopher Castilian.

“The defendants are Trump and Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat.”

According to The Denver Post, “The lawsuit seeks to compel Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold to bar Trump from the Republican primary election and, if he wins the Republican nomination, from the state’s general election ballot.”

If context is important in anything, it is important to know concerning this lawsuit.  Here’s a little context: before the 2022 midterm elections, I attended a debate of candidates for treasurer and secretary of state in Colorado at the University of Denver.  The debate between Secretary of State Griswold (D) and Pam Anderson (R) came second.  Griswold, seeking re-election, got up and proceeded to slander President Trump and voters who supported him, on and on, instead of speaking about her office and its issues.

Let me emphasize: the Colorado secretary of state went on a hate-filled rant about President Trump in a public forum when she should have been debating issues about her office.  She even said that Trump tried to steal the election.

Secretary Griswold won re-election. Now she is a defendant along with Trump in the current trial.  How does that happen?  One might say, on Halloween, by hook and by crook.

C.S. Boddie writes for Meadowlark Press, LLC.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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