Donald Trump and the Colorado Presidential Primary | Westword

Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Donald Trump, the Colorado Presidential Primary and the Art of the Steal

Both sides in the case have appealed to the state Supreme Court.
Donald Trump came to Colorado early in his 2016 campaign for president.
Donald Trump came to Colorado early in his 2016 campaign for president. Brandon Marshall
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Donald Trump was crowing in yet another fundraising plea sent out early November 20:

"As I write you this email, Crooked Joe is trembling in fear: A judge in Colorado has officially DISMISSED the fourth attempt to REMOVE my name from the ballot. Your favorite President (me) WILL appear on the ballot in the 2024 election!

"Joe Biden hoped he could find a Democrat judge to do his dirty work and illegally remove my name from the ballot …. But his tyrannical dream turned out to be a failure just like his disastrous presidency. He can no longer hide. The verdict is in: Biden will be forced to face 'DONALD J. TRUMP' in the 2024 election. But he won’t just be facing me…he will be facing the millions and millions of Americans who will NEVER FORGET when tyrannical Soros-funded Democrats attempted to ROB HALF OF THE COUNTRY OF YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE and STEAL the 2024 ELECTION."

There's more, lots more, and there will be more in tomorrow morning's email from Trump and the one the morning after that, but you get the ALL-CAPS idea: The former president continues to insist that the November 2020 election was rigged, just as he claimed that the April 2016 Colorado Republican Convention was "rigged," months before he won the Republican Party's nomination for president and moved into the White House in an election many would like to deny.

Campaigning in Iowa this weekend, Trump pushed the 2020 rigged-election message in person, touting his legal victory in Colorado as well as in Michigan and Minnesota, where judges also rebuffed attempts to keep the former president off the primary ballot. But while Denver District Court Judge Sarah Wallace ruled late on November 17 that Trump is eligible to be placed on the March 5 presidential primary ballot in Colorado  — he'd already paid $40,000 to the Colorado Republican Party to secure a spot — she also determined that Trump had engaged in insurrection through "incitement" during the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, laying out his involvement in a 102-page order.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a stalwart Democrat, is a defendant in the Colorado case because she's charged with setting the official primary ballot on January. 5 She quickly issued a statement in response to Wallace's decision, noting that the six people who'd filed the initial suit on September 6 — all Republican or unaffiliated voters but referred to as "Democratic henchmen" in another Trump missive, though none of them get more Democrat or henchman-like than former House majority leader (as a Republican) Norma Anderson — could still appeal.

And they did late on November 20, as did Trump's attorneys; the Colorado Supreme Court will hear arguments on December 6.

In their initial filing, the six non-Soros-funded non-henchmen had argued that Trump was ineligible because of language in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, added right after the Civil War: “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such a disability.”

Wallace, who listened to five days of testimony from witnesses that included police officers who'd been at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, as well as Congressman Ken Buck and constitutional experts, based her ruling on the definition of "officer of the United States" rather than Trump's actions before, during and after the assault on the Capitol.

Those actions were definite, she determined: “The Court concludes that Trump acted with the specific intent to incite political violence and direct it at the Capitol with the purpose of disrupting the electoral certification.”

Although Wallace was the first judge to find that Trump incited the insurrection, similar suits are pending in other states. And "officer of the United States" or not, Trump still faces four upcoming trials, including the federal case charging that he tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election — which is set to start on March 4, the day before Colorado's presidential primary. He's also a defendant in the Georgia case focusing on alleged interference in the Fulton County vote in November 2020, which has ties to Colorado and its own cast of henchmen.

One of the nineteen charged in the Georgia case was Jenna Ellis, a former Weld County deputy DA who took a plea deal last month. “I relied on others, including lawyers with many more years of experience than I, to provide me with true and reliable information,” she said in making her plea. “What I should have done, but did not do, was make sure that the facts the other lawyers alleged to be true were in fact true. In the frenetic pace of attempting to raise challenges to the election in several states, including Georgia, I failed to do my due diligence.”

Presumably one of those lawyers was John Eastman, still on the hook for nine criminal counts in the Georgia case and identified as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the federal case. Until the events of January 6, Eastman's most controversial move may have been taking a break as dean of the Chapman University law school to accept a position as a visiting fellow at the Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization, a privately funded branch of the University of Colorado Boulder that was launched in the early 2000s as a way to add conservative voices. But not crazy ones.

It was from that perch that Eastman flew east to Washington, D.C., to offer advice to Trump after the November 2020 election.

Over the next few weeks, Eastman, who'd once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, authored a two-page memo that outlined the six steps then-Vice President Mike Pence could take to return the victory to Trump. Slated by the U.S. Constitution to count all the electoral votes on January 6 in a joint session of Congress, Pence could instead use alternate slates of electors submitted by Republican-controlled legislatures in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Two days before the count, Eastman told Trump that Vice President Pence had the power to stop the count and return the votes to the states for reconsideration. "To delay," he told Sixty Minutes earlier this month. "To let them finish their investigative work and make a determination on whether the illegality had affected the outcome of the election, and if it didn't, to report back so that we could have some more certainty about the validity of the Biden electors. But if it did, then we wanted to make sure that the person who actually won the election was the one that was certified."

Pence balked, and in the end, the person who actually won the election was the one certified.

CU canceled Eastman's gig shortly after the events of January 6; he was forced to step down from Chapman. The California Bar Association is currently considering whether Eastman should be stripped of his law license. Ellis has already been censured by the Colorado Bar Association for making "misrepresentations" regarding the 2020 election. "You have probably seen all of the headlines, that in the context of resolving the bar complaints about me...I admitted that I lied," she said on her podcast this past March.

But the Colorado connections don't end there. Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, which supplied much of the equipment in Fulton County, was painted as the major villain by Trump and all his cronies. As the accusations spread across Fox News, Dominion's employees were threatened, and the company had to move offices three times; even a record $787 million settlement of Dominion's defamation suit against Fox News this past April wasn't enough to assuage the hurt.

And now one more option for a soft landing has been removed. Dominion didn't stop at suing Fox; it also has defamation cases pending against Newsmax and One America News Network, along with Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell (another Fulton County defendant who took a plea) and none other than Mike Lindell, the "My Pillow" head who provided shelter for on-the-run Tina Peters when the then-Mesa County clerk was accused of tampering with her own office's work, and who has since pushed the conspiracy theories past the point of no return...for his company.

Lindell is now out of money and says he can't pay his lawyers. "No amount of money can repair the damage that's been done by these lies, which are easily disproved," Dominion president John Poulos said when the company filed suit against Lindell. "Hundreds of documented audits and recounts have proven that Dominion machines accurately counted votes. We look forward to proving these facts in a court of law."

At this point, he — like millions of others — may have to settle for the court of public opinion next November.
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