House Democrat leads charge to bar Trump from office, citing 14th Amendment

The former president "forfeited his right to ever hold federal office again for leading an insurrection against the United States," said Rep. David Cicilline.

As former President Donald Trump prepared to announce his 2024 presidential campaign Tuesday, Rep. David Cicilline was circulating a letter to his fellow Democratic lawmakers calling on them to support legislation that would bar Trump from running, citing his involvement in the January 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Lawmakers have until Thursday at noon to sign on as original co-sponsors of the legislation, which states that the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution bars anyone from holding public office if they, “having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States… to support the Constitution of the United States… engaged in insurrection of rebellion against the same.”

Trump “forfeited his right to ever hold federal office again for leading an insurrection against the United States,” the Rhode Island Democrat wrote in the Dear Colleague letter. “This language in our Constitution clearly intended to bar insurrectionists from holding high office in the United States.”

Cicilline noted that hearings held by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol earlier this year demonstrated that Trump “engaged in insurrection on January 6 with the intention of overturning the lawful 2020 election results.”

The committee presented evidence showing that Trump planned for thousands of his supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol where lawmakers were voting on the certification of the presidential election, and that he sought to make the march to the Capitol seem spontaneous. It also showed that he watched the chaos unfolding at the Capitol on television and refused to stop the attack, which was linked to several deaths.

Cicilline’s plan to introduce legislation barring Trump from holding public office follows a letter sent by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) to the former president earlier this month, in which the watchdog said it would pursue his disqualification “under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment based on your engaging in the insurrection.”

“We warned him that should he decide to run again, we would be taking action to ensure the Constitution’s ban on insurrectionists holding office is enforced,” said CREW in a statement after Trump’s announcement on Tuesday. “Now we will be. Trump made a mockery of the Constitution he swore to defend, but we will see that it is defended.”

Also on Tuesday night, Free Speech for the People (FSFP) and Mi Familia Vota launched a campaign calling on secretaries of state across the U.S. to “follow the mandate of [Amendment] 14.3 and bar Trump from the ballot.”

John Bonifaz, president of FSFP, thanked Cicilline for leading the push in Congress to block Trump from running, noting that “even without this legislation,” state election officials are bound by law to uphold the 14th Amendment.

“Donald Trump’s words and actions incited a violent riot on our nation’s capital,” said Héctor Sánchez Barba, executive director of Mi Familia Vota, before urging Americans to sign a petition urging officials “to uphold this critical provision.”

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Julia Conley is a Common Dreams staff writer.

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