Though she did not outright endorse blocking former President Donald Trump from next year’s ballot at this point, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson left the option open during a recent discussion on MSNBC covering the 14th Amendment.
That portion of the U.S. Constitution has become a topic of substantial discussion, as some have sought to apply its rules against individuals involved in insurrection later holding elected office to Donald Trump. (The provisions, as written, specifically apply to individuals who’d taken an oath to defend the Constitution — like what was seen at Trump’s 2017 inauguration — before the insurrection and related acts.) Benson, who is a final authority for handling elections within specifically her state’s system, could be a key decision-maker in the process of whether to allow Trump on the ballot, though she said on MSNBC that she anticipated the matter going to the courts.
“I think the arguments for disqualification are quite strong,” Benson remarked. “But we also have to recognize that we’re in uncharted territory here, and there are counter-arguments on the other side that need to be explored. Important questions, even if you set aside the question of, does this happen before or post- a conviction, where is due process? What is the definition of insurrection or rebellion? What is giving aid and comfort, and who is the proper authority to make those definitions?”
Benson noted that she and her state also saw some of what has driven this entire discussion essentially firsthand, considering Michigan was among the states most intensely targeted by former President Donald Trump and allies of his after the last presidential race as Trump tried to cling to power. Benson previewed an approach to the question in which she’d be consulting with other officials in similar positions in other states, and she noted that there could be multiple rounds of judicial decision-making on this question, considering the multiple stages of the electoral process up to the inauguration that’ll take place in 2025.
Elsewhere, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) expressed support for the argument that Trump is disqualified because of his arguable ties to January 6, though Schiff also anticipated the dispute heading to court. Watch Benson below: