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Nonprofit Watchdog Group Promises to Sue Trump If He Tries to Run for President

The group says Trump’s involvement in the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol should disqualify him from running.

Former President Donald Trump enters the stage at a rally to support Republican candidates running for state and federal offices in the state of Ohio at the Covelli Centre on September 17, 2022, in Youngstown, Ohio.

A nonprofit government watchdog group has warned former President Donald Trump that if he tries to run for any government office again, they will sue to stop him from doing so.

Citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Noah Bookbinder, president and CEO of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), stated in a letter addressed directly to Trump that the organization would “pursue your disqualification” if he decides to run for president in 2024.

“The United States Constitution establishes basic qualifications for holding the office of president, as well as circumstances under which an individual may be disqualified from holding future office,” Bookbinder wrote, adding that the 14th Amendment “provides that no individual who engages in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution — after having previously taken an oath to support it — shall hold any federal or state office.”

Bookbinder said CREW was making the decision to take such action “based on your engaging in the insurrection that culminated on January 6, 2021,” referring to the day that a mob of Trump loyalists breached the U.S. Capitol building to interrupt the certification of the presidential election.

“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,” Bookbinder went on.

The head of CREW posted a separate message directed at Trump on the organization’s website.

“Let our message be clear: if you seek office despite being disqualified under the Constitution for engaging in insurrection, we and others loyal to the Constitution will defend it,” Bookbinder said.

Most Americans agree with the sentiments laid out in Bookbinder’s letter. According to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll conducted in September, only 35 percent of voters think Trump should remain eligible to hold office, while 51 percent said he should be ineligible to run again based on numerous misdeeds while he was in the White House and beyond, including his role in inciting the January 6 Capitol attack.

Use of the 14th Amendment to bar politicians from running for office is rare, and has had mixed results since the attack on Congress nearly two years ago. In that time, attempts to use the amendment to bar Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia) and Madison Cawthorn (North Carolina) from running for office have both failed.

One elected leader has been removed from his position through use of the 14th Amendment due to his involvement in the Capitol attack, the first instance of someone being disqualified through that statute since 1869. Earlier this year, Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin was removed from his position as county commissioner in New Mexico after a federal district judge found he was in violation of the amendment’s clause.

In addition to eyewitness testimony that showcased how Griffin both participated in the attack and encouraged other members of the mob to take part, the district judge in his trial noted that he had “spent months normalizing that violence may be necessary to keep President Trump in office.”

Any lawsuit against Trump would likely take years to litigate, as Trump has demonstrated he can use legal questions and objections to delay inquiries into his actions. Some legal experts have said that efforts to disqualify Trump should start sooner rather than later.

Alan B. Morrison, associate dean at George Washington University Law School, wrote in an op-ed in July that Democrats should be filing such a lawsuit now, rather than weighing the possibility of doing so after Trump announces he’s running for president. In his missive, Morrison also noted that the evidence showcasing Trump’s involvement in the attempted insurrection is overwhelming.

“It was clearly in his power to call off the insurrection — but instead of trying to stop the violence, he chose to do nothing,” Morrison said.

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