A former Republican judge who is acting as the hearing officer first found that the Electoral Board doesn’t have the authority to weigh the merits, but if they do, Trump should be disqualified.
Judge Clark Erickson first wrote that the complaint should be dismissed because he believed that the board didn’t have the authority to weigh the merits of Trump’s actions.
However, Erickson wrote another section, which was a recommendation for if the board decided to weigh the merits:
The evidence shows that President Trump understood the divided political climate in the United States. He understood and exploited that climate for his own political gain by falsely and publicly claiming the election was stolen from him, even though every single piece of evidence demonstrated that his claim was demonstrably false. He used these false claims to garner further political support for his own benefit by inflaming the emotions of his supporters to convince them that the election was stolen from him and that American democracy was being undermined. He understood the context of the events of January 6, 2021 because he created the climate. At the same time he engaged in an elaborate plan to provide lists of fraudulent electors to Vice President Pence for the express purpose of disrupting the peaceful transfer of power following an election.
Even though the Candidate may not have intended for violence to break out on January 6, 2021, he does not dispute that he received reports that violence was a likely possibility on January 6, 2021. Candidate does not dispute that he knew violence was occurring at the capitol.. He understood that people were there to support him. This makes one single piece of evidence, in this context, absolutely damning to his denial of his participation: the tweet regarding Mike Pence’s lack of courage while Candidate knew the attacks were going on is inexplicable. Candidate knew the attacks were occurring because the attackers believed the election was stolen, and this tweet could not possibly have had any other intended purpose besides to fan the flames. While it is true that subsequently, but not immediately afterwards, Candidate tweeted calls to peace, he did so only after he had fanned the flames. The Hearing Officer determines that these calls to peace via social media, coming after an inflammatory tweet, are the product of trying to give himself plausible deniability. Perhaps he realized just how far he had gone, and that the effort to steal the election had failed because Vice President Pence had refused to accept the bag of fraudulent electors. It was time to retreat, with a final tweet telling the nation that he loved those who had assembled and attacked the Capitol.
In the event that the Board decides to not follow the Hearing Officer’s recommendation to grant the Candidate’s Motion to Dismiss, the Hearing Officer recommends that the Board find that the evidence presented at the hearing on January 26, 2024 proves by a preponderance of the evidence that President Trump engaged in insurrection, within the meaning of Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and should have his name removed from the March, 2024 primary ballot in Illinois.
Judge Erickson doesn’t believe that the Election Board has the authority to decide on the merits of Trump’s behavior, but if the Election Board decides that it does, Erickson found that Trump engaged in an insurrection and recommended that he be disqualified from the ballot because Trump engaged in an insurrection.
Erickson is the first Republican judge to find that Trump engaged in an insurrection. His finding is important, and his recommendation should be used in other Trump disqualification cases.
A Special Message From PoliticusUSA
If you are in a position to donate purely to help us keep the doors open on PoliticusUSA during what is a critical election year, please do so here.
We have been honored to be able to put your interests first for 14 years as we only answer to our readers and we will not compromise on that fundamental, core PoliticusUSA value.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association