The Supreme Court heard arguments on Thursday pertaining to whether states can throw Donald Trump off the 2024 presidential ballots if they determine he violated the 14th Amendment — which essentially disqualifies insurrectionists from holding office. The former president shouldn’t be too worried, however, as the conservative-controlled court seems unlikely to permit what Chief Justice John Roberts described as a “pretty daunting consequence.”
The justices did not seem very concerned with the question of whether Trump is actually an insurrectionist, only addressing it briefly during the proceedings. Trump lawyer Jonathan Mitchell rejected the notion that the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, qualified as an insurrection.
“This was a riot,” he said. “It was not an insurrection.”
Trump’s legal team also tried to throw cold water on the idea in a filing earlier this week, writing that the “events of January 6 were not an ‘insurrection’ as they did not involve an organized attempt to overthrow or resist the U.S. government.”
Trump disagrees, apparently.
“They kept saying about what I said right after the insurrection,” he said outside Mar-a-Lago after arguments concluded in Washington, D.C. “I think it was an insurrection caused by Nancy Pelosi.
Trump: I think it was an insurrection caused by Nancy Pelosi. pic.twitter.com/I3AMOSymjG
— Acyn (@Acyn) February 8, 2024
Trump’s logic here doesn’t likely extend beyond believing “insurrection” is a bad word Democrats say about him, so he’s going to say it back about them.
The idea that then-House Speaker Pelosi perpetrated an insurrection on Jan. 6 doesn’t make a lick of sense, of course. There’s zero evidence she had anything to do with the attack on the Capitol, and it’s flat-out absurd to think she would have been incentivized in any way to marshal a mob of people waving Trump flags to disrupt the certification of a fellow Democrat’s election win.
Pelosi’s office agrees. “No matter what unhinged lies Trump spews about the insurrection he instigated, as numerous independent fact-checkers have confirmed, Speaker Pelosi did not plan her own assassination,” spokesperson Aaron Bennett said in a comment to Rolling Stone.
Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results, culminating with his supporters attacking the seat of democracy on Jan. 6, will loom large over this year’s election. The frontrunner to land the Republican nomination is facing criminal charges related to the effort brought by the Justice Department, as well as charges related to election interference in Georgia. Trump tried to get the former thrown out on the idea that he should be immune to being prosecuted for anything he did while in office. The D.C. Court of Appeals rejected his claim earlier this week. He is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Republicans in Congress — totally in thrall to Trump’s now-years-long push to rewrite reality of what happened around the 2020 election — are doing what they can to tamp down the idea the former president did anything wrong. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) on Tuesday introduced a resolution declaring Trump isn’t an insurrectionist.
The press conference announcing the stunt filing wasn’t any less absurd than Trump’s comments on Thursday. “When Joe Biden was inaugurated, and this entire Capitol complex was surrounded with 30,000 National Guard troops, none of you stood there and called that an insurrection,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) told reporters, referring to the security measures put in place after Jan. 6. “Oh no. You all stayed silent.”
It’s unclear whether voters will buy Trump and his allies’ galaxy-brain conspiracy theorizing on the matter, or whether anything will come of the criminal cases against the former president before this November. It does, however, seem likely he’ll still be on every state ballot despite his actions four years ago. “I think it was well received,” Trump said of his lawyer Mitchell’s arguments in front of the Supreme Court on Thursday. “I hope it was well received.”
More from Rolling Stone
Best of Rolling Stone