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Trump moves to disqualify Maine secretary of state from deciding 2024 eligibility

todayDecember 28, 2023 13

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Lawyers for Donald Trump are seeking to disqualify Maine’s secretary of state from determining whether the former president should be allowed on the state’s 2024 ballot, pointing to her past social media posts as proof she “has already concluded that President Trump engaged in insurrection.”

Attorneys Benjamin Hartwell, Scott Gessler and Gary Lawkowski wrote in a Wednesday letter to Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows that she had “exhibited a personal bias” in three public statements “well before the submission of evidence or argument in this current matter,” according to a copy of the missive obtained by The Post.

On Feb. 13, 2021, Bellows posted on Twitter that the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot was an “insurrection” and “an unlawful attempt to overthrow the results of a free and fair election.”

Lawyers for Donald Trump say Maine’s secretary of state should be disqualified from determining whether the former president should be allowed on the 2024 ballot. AP
Trump’s attorneys wrote in a letter to Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows that she had “exhibited a personal bias” in social media posts that precluded her from making the decision. AP

“Today 57 Senators including [Maine independent] King & [Maine Republican] Collins found Trump guilty. That’s short of impeachment but nevertheless an indictment. The insurrectionists failed, and democracy prevailed,” she wrote.

In a subsequent tweet, she clarified that she was “[n]ot saying [she was] not disappointed,” adding: “He should have been impeached. But history will not treat him or those who voted against impeachment kindly.”

One year later, Bellows posted on Twitter “about a media report about her efforts to ‘protect’ election officials, ballot and voting machine integrity,” the lawyers noted, in which she referred again to the riot as a “violent insurrection.”

On Feb. 13, 2021, Bellows posted on Twitter that the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot was an “insurrection” and “an unlawful attempt to overthrow the results of a free and fair election.” X/@shennabellows

“One year after the violent insurrection, it’s important to do all we can to safeguard our elections,” she wrote on Jan. 6, 2022.

Trump’s lawyers said Bellows should instead “appoint an unbiased, impartial hearing officer” to make a judgment over their client’s eligibility.

“At this point in the proceedings, the Secretary may designate an impartial hearing officer, withdraw from considering the matter, and turn over final adjudication to that impartial hearing officer,” they wrote.

Bellows also posted one year later on Twitter “about a media report about her efforts to ‘protect’ election officials, ballot and voting machine integrity,” the lawyers noted, referring again to the riot as a “violent insurrection.” AFP via Getty Images

“This is a far better course of action than rendering judgment after it has become evident that the Secretary has predetermined that President Trump participated in ‘insurrection.’”

Bellows is expected to make decisions this week on complaints challenging Trump’s eligibility for the primary ballot in Maine, which argue the 77-year-old should be disqualified for violating the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which bars from office those who participate in “insurrection or rebellion.”

“As I’ve said in response to other questions received since the Hearing on December 15, the Secretary is not commenting while this matter is pending,” a spokeswoman for the secretary of state told The Post.

Bellows is expected to make decisions on three complaints challenging Trump’s ballot eligibility for the 2024 GOP primary in Maine for participating in an “insurrection” on Jan. 6, 2021. Getty Images

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the former president was ineligible based on the same constitutional violation.

By contrast, the Michigan Supreme Court opposed disqualifying the ex-president, arguing the state’s secretary of state does not have the legal authority to remove candidates nominated by political parties for a primary.

Unlike in Colorado and Michigan, Maine’s process for ballot eligibility will first be deliberated by the secretary of state before the courts get involved.

President Biden won three of the four electoral votes from Maine in the 2020 election, while Trump won the fourth. AP

The Colorado ruling has since been stayed pending an expected appeal from Trump’s attorneys to the US Supreme Court.

In a Thursday statement, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung called Bellows “a completely biased Democrat partisan and a Biden supporter who is incapable of making a fair decision and allowing the people of Maine the right to vote for the candidate of their choosing.”

“Any attempt to remove President Trump’s name from the ballot is blatant election interference. It is unConstitutional, unAmerican, and wrong,” Cheung added.

“President Trump is far and away the leading candidate for re-nomination by the Republican Party and re-election as President by the American people in 2024, and he looks forward to making America great again very soon.”

President Biden won three of Maine’s four electoral votes in the 2020 election, while Trump carried the state’s 2nd Congressional District and received the fourth electoral vote.

Trump is currently two percentage points above Biden in national popular vote surveys, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.



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Written by: TNT Radio

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