Matt Gaetz pushes a House resolution proclaiming Trump is not an insurrectionist

Rep. Matt Gaetz is gathering support for a House resolution that says former President Donald Trump did not engage in an insurrection in the 2021 Capitol riot, an official act of Congress that would potentially influence the Supreme Court‘s ruling on barring the ex-president from the ballot.

Mr. Gaetz, a Republican and Trump ally, said over 60 GOP lawmakers have signed onto the resolution. He will champion the measure at a press conference on Tuesday.

It strikes at the heart of a debate that will unfold in court this year as Mr. Trump campaigns as the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination.

The Supreme Court on Thursday will hear arguments over a Colorado Supreme Court ruling that removed Mr. Trump from the ballot under a part of the 14th Amendment that disqualifies insurrectionists from holding federal offices.

Maine’s secretary of state cited the provision in unilaterally removing Mr. Trump from the ballot, while courts in other states have struck down attempts to boot Mr. Trump.

Supporters of the effort allege Mr. Trump led an insurrection by attempting to overturn the 2020 election results.

Mr. Trump rallied supporters in Washington before they walked down to the Capitol and broke into the building on Jan. 6, 2021, after the certification process began. He also leaned on Vice President Mike Pence to send the electoral vote-counting process back to the states instead of certifying the votes.

Mr. Gaetz’s resolution is a blunt rejection of the insurrection thesis, saying: “President Donald J. Trump did not engage in insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or give aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

The resolution has a tangible function, in that the 14th Amendment can wave the ballot disqualification with a two-thirds vote in each chamber of Congress. That is unlikely to happen — Democrats control the Senate — so the resolution amounts to a formal show of support for Mr. Trump while he splits his time between the courtroom and campaign trail.

Mr. Trump faces trial on federal charges accusing him of conspiring against the U.S. and its voters with his attempts to overturn the 2020 results.

Special counsel Jack Smith secured the indictment in Washington, a Democratic stronghold where the jury pool is unlikely to be favorable to Mr. Trump.

The trial was supposed to begin in early March but it has been put on hold while federal appeals courts consider whether Mr. Trump is entitled to broad immunity for actions he took to reexamine the election results while he was president.

A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments on the immunity question last month and could rule at any time.

A Supreme Court ruling on the ballot disqualification question could be handed down soon after oral arguments, given the time-sensitive nature of the dispute. Colorado’s primary is slated for March 5.

A quick decision is not unprecedented. In 2000, the high court issued a ruling in Bush v. Gore the day after oral arguments in the dispute over Florida’s ballot recount, which determined the outcome of the presidential election.

Alex Swoyer contributed to this story.

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