Democratic congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island circulated a letter to party colleagues this week, seeking cosponsors for legislation that would bar former President Donald Trump from running for president again in 2024.
Trump announced that he is running for president again during a rally at his Mar-a-Lago estate on Tuesday evening. That same day, Cicilline circulated a letter seeking to disqualify Trump from higher office, citing Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021, when a mob of his loyalists attacked the U.S. Capitol building shortly after he gave an incendiary speech outside the White House.
“Give the proof — demonstrated through the January 6th Committee Hearings, the 2021 impeachment trial, and other reporting — that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection on January 6th with the intention of overturning the lawful 2020 election results, I have drafted legislation that would prevent Donald Trump from holding public office again under the Fourteenth Amendment,” Cicilline wrote.
Cicilline, who served as an impeachment manager during Trump’s first impeachment trial, did not say when he planned to submit the legislation for Congress to consider. He did urge other lawmakers to cosponsor his legislation by Thursday, however.
Cicilline’s bill “details testimony and evidence demonstrating how Donald Trump engaged in insurrection against the United States” based on revelations made during the January 6 committee’s hearings, his letter says.
According to the letter, the bill also specifically showcases how Donald Trump:
…engaged in insurrection when he helped to plan and encouraged the insurgence on January 6th despite knowing that the election results were lawful; attempted to intimidate state and federal officials when they did not support his false claims and unlawful plans; tried to manipulate Mike Pence into unlawfully refusing to certify the election results, despite Mr. Pence’s and legal advisors’ assertion that he held no such authority; and supported the violent insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, refusing for hours to denounce or act against the mob and putting thousands of lives in danger.
Cicilline’s bill may face legal challenges, as the amendment he cites doesn’t outline a specific process for labeling a person an insurrectionist. The amendment does state, however, that Congress has the authority “to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article” — in theory paving the way for Cicilline’s legislation to be used to deem Trump unfit for office.
According to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, no person who has previously taken an oath of office in the U.S. may serve in any governmental office again if they have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Cicilline isn’t the only person attempting to bar Trump from serving in office again. Earlier this month, president of the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to Trump warning that the organization would sue to block him from running.
“The evidence that you engaged in insurrection as contemplated by the Fourteenth Amendment — including by mobilizing, inciting, and aiding those who attacked the Capitol — is overwhelming,” CREW president Noah Bookbinder wrote to Trump.
“Let our message be clear,” Bookbinder went on. “If you seek office despite being disqualified under the Constitution for engaging in insurrection, we and others loyal to the Constitution will defend it.”