The Mueller Investigation of the March 6, 2020, Capitol Mob: The Case of Mike Pence and the “Hanging Pence” Campaign
The case set for trial in Washington, D.C., in March accuses Trump of leading a conspiracy to obstruct the certification of the 2020 election and deprive millions of voters from having their ballots count. The peaceful transfer of power was disrupted by a mob that injured more than 140 law enforcement officers.
Lawyers for Trump are asking the judge to remove the mention of that day from the indictment because it could make the jury think the person was guilty.
“[N]ot a shred of evidence suggests President Trump called for any violence or asked anyone to enter the Capitol unlawfully,” Trump attorneys John Lauro and Todd Blanche wrote in a court filing this week.
The day that the defendants directed a large and angry crowd was the end of their criminal conspiracy to overturn the results of the presidential election, since they had made false claims of election fraud.
The back and forth over how the events of Jan. 6 will play out in the case represents an early skirmish in one of the most important and closely watched prosecutions in American history.
Prosecutors said they plan to use other testimony and videos to demonstrate how Trump deployed angry rioters as a “tool” in his pressure campaign against then-Vice President Mike Pence.
“I think that one of the most material things that he did during that time was his 2:24 p.m. tweet about Mike Pence, essentially arguing to all of his followers that Mike Pence did not have the courage to do what needed to be done and that was while he knew that the Capitol was under attack,” said Georgetown University Law Center professor Mary McCord, who is closely following the case.
Members of the mob ultimately chanted “hang Mike Pence” and “traitor Pence” as he hid in fear for his life alongside family members and Secret Service agents on Capitol grounds. Prosecutors said that Trump was different to Pence in that he watched the events on television.
McCord, who once led the Justice Department’s National Security Division, said it’s likely Trump will file more court papers as the trial looms to try to bar prosecutors from introducing specific pieces of evidence from Jan. 6.
The enigmatic Colorado protest on Jan. 6, 2016: Trump’s alleged insurrection violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment
Indeed, Lauro and Blanche signaled in a footnote this week they would seek to prevent jurors from hearing about acts of “extraordinary violent and destructive” behavior. The final decision on the issues can be made by the district judge.
Trump’s lawyers said the former president called for the rally crowd to be “peaceful and patriotic.” They asserted that most of the crowd at the rally on Jan. 6 did behave peacefully.
But in their own filing, prosecutors said Trump continued to embrace members of the mob, including rioters charged with violence against law enforcement and detained pending trial in the D.C. jail. Trump has said on the campaign trail that he is considering pardons for people convicted of crimes related to Jan. 6.
The lawsuit, brought by a left-leaning group on behalf of a group of Republican and independent Colorado voters, contended that Trump’s actions related to the attack ran afoul of a clause in the 14th Amendment that prevents anyone from holding office who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution.
The decision by District Judge Sarah B. Wallace is the third ruling in a little over a week against lawsuits seeking to knock Trump off the ballot by citing Section 3 of the amendment. The Minnesota Supreme Court last week said Trump could remain on the primary ballot because political parties have sole choice over who appears, while a Michigan judge ruled that Congress is the proper forum for deciding whether Section 3 applies to Trump.
Legal experts said it was clear that Wallace found that Trump was engaged in insurrection. She agreed with the accusation that he was responsible for the attack.
But the petitioners’ legal historian testified that in the years after the Civil War it was widely understood that Section 3 would prevent Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy, from being elected president of the United States. The records from the debate show that one senator asked if the measure was applicable to the presidency and the author read back “officers of the United States” language. According to testimony, the senator asked if the president was included and he was certain it was.
They also contended that no single judge should end a candidacy based on an interpretation of a clause that has been used only a handful of times in 150 years.
The most cynical and blatant attempts to interfere with the upcoming presidential election by desperate Democrats are contained in these cases.
The Colorado Judge Finds Trump ‘Entangled in Insurrection, but Keeps Him on the ballot’: A response to a free speech group suing in Michigan
Whether it’s the Colorado case or one filed in another state, the question ultimately is likely to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never ruled on Section 3. The group suing in the Michigan case, Free Speech for People, filed an appeal Thursday in state court.
A law professor at Notre Dame who has followed the case, said it was a stunning holding for the court to conclude that a former President engaged in insurrection against the United States. It’s possible that he will be barred from the ballot on appeal.
“The petitioners are asking this court to do something that’s never been done in the history of the United States,” Trump attorney Scott Gessler said during closing arguments. There isn’t enough evidence to allow the court to do it.
The petition said that there is little confusion in Section 3, which was used to stop Confederates from controlling the government after the Civil War. It prohibits those who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same” from holding state or federal office, unless granted amnesty by a two-thirds vote of Congress.
The attorneys seeking to knock Trump off the ballot contended he was simply disqualified, as plainly as if he failed to meet the 35-year age limit for the office. That this had never happened before was a reflection, they said, on Trump and his actions.
Records from the debate over the 14th Amendment were used in the case. Wallace said there is “scant direct evidence” that the measure was intended to apply to the presidency. She noted that Trump attorneys flagged a finding by one law professor that an early draft specified the presidency and vice presidency, but the final version did not. The provision also refers to “officers of the United States,” a phrase that elsewhere in the Constitution does not include the top two offices.
Wallace wrote that the record showed tension between the competing interpretations and a lack of definitive guidance in the historical sources.
Defending Cawthorn’s 2022 Campaign Against Section 3 in the U.S. Senate with a Two-Democrat Defend Judge
Free Speech For People tried to remove Republican Madison Cawthorn and Marjorie Taylor Greene from the ballot in 2022 because of Section 3. When Cawthorn lost his primary, a judge ruled against the lawsuit seeking to oust him.
CREW successfully used Section 3 to remove a rural New Mexico County Commissioner who entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 and was later convicted of a misdemeanor.