Former President Donald J. Trump sued Michigan’s top elections official, seeking to ensure he was on the ballot for the 2024 presidential election.
In a 64-page document on Monday, Trump’s lawyers said Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s secretary of state, had created “uncertainty” by not responding to communications from the Trump campaign about his eligibility to vote. Trump is the dominant favorite for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.
Her lawyers added that other parties had sued Ms. Benson to keep Trump off the ballot in 2024, arguing that he was ineligible to hold office again under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, a section that disqualifies anyone who “engages in an insurrection or rebellion” against the Constitution after having taken an oath to support it.
Benson previously refused to disqualify Trump for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, saying she did not have the authority to determine who was or was not eligible to run under the 14th Amendment. The plaintiffs in that case later sued in Michigan state court to have the court order Ms. Benson to disqualify Mr. Trump. Mrs. Benson has noticed that she is waiting for the results of that case.
Cheri Hardmon, a spokeswoman for Benson, said Tuesday that the Michigan Department of State could not comment on pending litigation.
The Michigan lawsuit was the latest twist in a national battle over Trump’s eligibility to run for president. The lawsuit was filed Monday afternoon in Michigan state court as a trial unfolded in Colorado to determine whether Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election met the 14th Amendment’s disqualification criteria.
That trial continued Tuesday with testimony related to Trump and far-right extremists and their actions on January 6, 2021.
Peter Simi, an expert witness on political extremism and violence called by the plaintiffs, said during cross-examination that far-right extremists often communicate in ambiguous language and that many of Trump’s comments before and on Jan. 6 were a key influence for extremists. who rioted at the Capitol.
Simi focused on Trump’s speech at the Ellipse that day, where he repeatedly called on his supporters to “fight” to prevent the election from being stolen from him.
“If a call to fight were made for far-right extremists, especially in the context as it is presented, that these threats are imminent, that you are going to lose your country, then it would be understood that fighting requires violent action,” Simi said. he testified.
Trump’s lawyers argued during cross-examination that Simi had selectively chosen particular moments that made Trump look bad, and sought to cast doubt on whether the president had intended for the far-right to interpret his comments the way they did. . .
Other cases over Trump’s eligibility will soon follow: a similar lawsuit was filed in New Hampshire. Oral arguments in a case in Minnesota are scheduled to begin Thursday. Separately, Democratic lawmakers in California last month asked their state’s attorney general to seek a judicial opinion on Trump’s eligibility.
Whatever decisions are taken in these cases, they will not be final. They will almost certainly be appealed by the losing side, and the Supreme Court (which has a 6-3 conservative majority, including three Trump-appointed justices) is likely to have the final say.