Judge Denies Trump’s Push For Her To Exit Lawsuit Threatening His Candidacy

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As trial got underway on Monday in a Colorado lawsuit in which the plaintiffs are hoping to block former President Donald Trump from the state’s ballots for the 2024 presidential race, presiding Judge Sarah Wallace rejected a motion from Trump’s corner for her to exit the proceedings because of a past donation she made to a generally liberal group.

Trump’s team unsuccessfully utilized a similar tactic against federal Judge Tanya Chutkan in the criminal case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith accusing the ex-president of attempted election interference. Chutkan also rejected the motion for her to step aside — which was likely always the more likely route, even just considering the fact it was the judge herself left to decide on the motion pushing for her exit.

Wallace, meanwhile, said she didn’t even remember making the late 2022 donation of just $100 until the motion from Trump’s defense personnel brought up the issue. Wallace also rejected a long series of attempts from Trump’s corner to derail the case before trial arguments arrived, ultimately concluding that state officials do have substantial power to enforce legal requirements around who appears on ballots for elections.

The case as a whole rests upon the now much discussed 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which blocks individuals who previously took an oath to defend that document from later holding office if they subsequently engaged in insurrection. The connection made to Trump is January 6, which his rhetoric clearly spurred. And in that federal case from Smith, prosecutors have tied Trump to the events of January 6, though his actual charges focus most directly on his attempts to stay in power despite losing the then-recent election. Roughly the same ground is covered by his charges in Georgia from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

A plea deal between Willis and one of the co-defendants, formerly Trump-allied lawyer Jenna Ellis, outlined a series of lies propagated amid Trump’s broader attempts to stay in power, including the false contention that more than 10,000 ballots were cast in the names of deceased individuals in the 2020 elections.