A Way to Dump Trump
BY RICHARD C. GROSS
“In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.”
— Napoleon Bonaparte
An intriguing proposal is in the works, backed by a congressman, that could sideline Trump from seeking the White House forever.
The means is in the Constitution. It’s been implemented three times and it has emerged as conservatives have suggested strongly that Republicans should quit Trump, who severely has damaged his once-respected party. More on that later.
Trump minuses: Six Trump-backed candidates who sought office in the recent midterms lost. That gave the polarizing ex-president his third consecutive loss of an election cycle: Democrats scored major successes in the 2018 midterms, Biden beat him handily in 2020 and Democrats scored unexpected gains Nov. 8.
Further, the twice impeached Trump is seeking reelection while facing five different investigations into his behavior and the financial operations of his company.
Some conservative publications have urged Republicans to move on from Trump. An editorial in the highly respected Wall Street Journal cited Trump’s flaws as “narcissism, lack of self-control, abusive treatment of advisers, his puerile vendettas.” All true, in spades.
If Trump gets the Republican nomination, he would be “the man most likely to produce a GOP loss and total power for the progressive left,” said the paper, owned by Rupert Murdoch.
His tabloid New York Post took a similar stance, but more sensationally by referring to the former president as “Trumpty-Dumpty” having a great fall.
Trump pluses: Never Trumper podcaster Jamie Weinstein in Rolling Stone: “Trump will very likely win the 2024 Republican nomination with much more ease than he won the 2016 GOP nomination — and then he will win a recession of winning the White House in 2025.
“I think that’s an awful prospect for the health of our liberal democratic system, but it does us no good to wish-cast reality away.”
Do hordes of election deniers still believe Trump won in 2020 if he’s running again?
As for that intriguing proposal, Jesse Wegman, an editorial writer for The New York Times, has called for invoking Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. It’s in a post-Civil War amendment aimed at Confederates who might have sought public office.
It bans from public office anyone “who, having previously taken an oath” to support the Constitution “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States” or “given aid or comfort” to America’s enemies.
Trump, who took the oath publicly, is accused of egging on the Jan. 6 revolt.
Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., has drafted a resolution to essentially keep Trump away from public office, Wegman wrote in an opinion piece in the Times Friday.
“This is America,” Wegman said Cicilline told him. ”We basically allow anyone to be president. We set limited disqualifications. One is, you can’t incite an insurrection against the United States. You shouldn’t get to lead a government that you tried to destroy.”
No, you shouldn’t.
Wegman cited a New Mexican judge in September for using Section 3 to oust County Commissioner Couy Griffin from office after his conviction for entering the Capitol with the rioting mob. Griffin led ”Cowboys for Trump.”
“This raised hopes among those looking for a way to bulletproof the White House against Mr. Trump that Section 3 might be the answer,” Wegman wrote.
“I count myself among this crowd,” he wrote. “. . . I am open to using any constitutional means of preventing [Trump] from even attempting to return to the White House.”
So am I.
Problem, which could be a major arguing point against invoking Section 3: It doesn’t explicitly include the president among those barred from public office.
But Wegman countered that the “fundamental purpose” of the document “is to prevent insurrectionists from participating in American government. It would be bizarre in the extreme if Mr. Griffin’s behavior can disqualify him from serving as a county commissioner but not from serving as president.”
Wegman wrote he was ambivalent about invoking the section, in part because it might be better to “give people the chance to (again) reject Mr. Trump at the ballot box.”
So, he said he asked Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who taught constitutional law before joining Congress, what he thought of Wegman’s ambivalence about invoking Section 3. Raskin, who sits on the Jan. 6 House committee, replied that such a feeling is “understandable.”
But, Wegman said Raskin told him, invoking Section 3 “would be a very minor incursion into the right of the people to elect exactly who they want, in order to obtain much greater security for the constitutional order against those who have demonstrated a propensity to want to overthrow it when it is to their advantage.”
Cicilline, the Rhode Island Democrat, told Wegman:
“We undermine the importance of the Constitution if we pick and choose what rules apply . . . You don’t get to apply the Constitution sometimes or only if you feel like it. We take an oath. We swear to uphold it. We don’t swear to uphold most of it. If Donald Trump taught us anything, it’s about protecting the Constitution of the United States.”
The goal is to keep Trump away from the presidency to save America from another four years of chaos, corruption, compulsive lying, the denigration of others, vindictiveness, revenge and hate.
May this resolution succeed in Congress.
Richard C. Gross, who covered war and peace in the
Middle East, the Pentagon and was foreign editor of United Press International, served as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.