CNN Legal Analyst Says Trump Has Two Arguments That Could Make Ballot Cases Go Away

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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CNN’s Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig said Wednesday that former President Donald Trump has two legal arguments that could essentially make the cases involving his appearance on the ballot go away.

Trump’s team appealed Tuesday to a Maine court a ruling by Democratic Secretary of State Shenna Bellows that kicked him off the ballot under the 14th Amendment. A group of Republicans in Colorado appealed a similar ruling made by the Colorado Supreme Court to the Supreme Court.

“The former president and his legal team have tried a lot of different arguments in a lot of different places. Which is most likely to be compelling in terms of something actually reaching a high court?” host Audie Cornish asked.

“So if we’re talking about the 14th Amendment disqualification case, what Donald Trump does in his brief that he submitted yesterday challenging the Maine disqualification is he gives himself a lot of different ways to win. Let me sort of lay out how he structures his argument. First he says, ‘Well, I did not engage in insurrection.’ It’s just one line but I think he feels duty-bound to deny it. But then really what he does is focus on the procedural side. And I think that’s where this is going to be decided,” Honig explained.

“First he says it’s up to Congress, not the states, to tell us how the 14th Amendment works. Congress has not done that other than passing the criminal law, hence the states are out of business. But then he says, ‘Well, even if it is up to the states, Maine did not follow its own procedures. The secretary of state was biased against me, etc.’ Then he goes on to say, ‘Well, even if they did properly follow their own procedures, that didn’t give me enough due process. They had this one-day hearing, there was only one witness, it was a law professor. It doesn’t comport even with minimum with due process.’ And then he says, ‘Even if all those other arguments fail, the president does not qualify as an officer of the United States under the Constitution.’ … But what Trump’s doing is giving himself four or five different ways to win. Lawyers like to do that.”

“Can you pinpoint what they think the most effective of the four or five is?” host Phil Mattingly asked. (RELATED: ABC Chief Legal Analyst Says Trump Has ‘Real Legal Arguments’ To Defend Himself With)

“I think [Trump] is looking for an argument that’s going to take this out of the state’s hands altogether, which is really one of two arguments. One is it’s up to Congress and in their absence to act, states, you’re out of business. And by the way, if the U.S. Supreme Court finds that, all these claims go away,” Honig said. “And then the second one I think is that the president does not count as an officer argument. I’m not compelled by that myself if I were the judge … But it has gotten some traction and again, it’s a way for the Supreme Court to dispose of all of these cases in one shot.”

Trump’s legal team argued in their Maine appeal that Trump was not provided due process since he has never been formally charged with an insurrection and that Bellows was a biased decision-maker who lacked the authority to remove him from the ballot. Trump’s team is also arguing Bellows made “multiple errors of law and acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner.”

Trump also argues in his Maine appeal that the 14th Amendment “is not self-executing and requires congressional legislation.”