Activists prep lawsuits and legislation to bar Trump from office if Garland doesn't indict
Donald Trump / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. Richards

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that liberal groups are preparing legislation and lawsuits to bar former President Donald Trump from seeking the presidency again in 2024, as a contingency plan if Attorney General Merrick Garland doesn't move ahead with prosecuting the former president.

"The plans amount to an extraordinarily long-shot effort to accomplish what multiple investigations of Mr. Trump have failed to do: foreclose any chance that the former president could regain power, whether voters want him to or not," reported Luke Broadwater and Michael S. Schmidt. "They reflect the growing concern among Democrats and liberal activists seeking to find a way to end the political careers of the former president and the officials who helped him try to cling to the presidency, including through several new and in some cases arcane strategies."

"Democrats and some anti-Trump Republicans have grown fearful that Merrick B. Garland, the attorney general, will not pursue criminal action against Mr. Trump for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, culminating in the violent storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Even if Mr. Trump were indicted and convicted of a crime, there is no law barring even an imprisoned felon from becoming president," said the report. "At the same time, Mr. Trump is the widely presumed front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, whose popularity with his party’s base appears undiminished by the high-profile set of House hearings this year revealing the breadth of his efforts to upend a democratic election."

Among the avenues being pursued are disqualifying him under the 14th Amendment's prohibition on insurrectionists holding office — which groups like Free Speech For People and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) are testing by filing suits against local officials who participated in the January 6 attack. One such effort succeeded this week, with a court removing "Cowboys for Trump" founder Couy Griffin from his position as commissioner for Otero County, New Mexico for participating in January 6. Other activists are pressuring secretaries of state to use their powers to remove insurrection sympathizers from the ballot.

“There is a tremendous body of evidence about Donald Trump’s role in the efforts to overturn the election and inciting the attack of Jan. 6,” said CREW president Noah Bookbinder. “It seems like there’s a serious case to be made that it could have application to Donald Trump.”

All of this comes as Trump is facing another federal investigation over highly classified documents being stored at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida — including a document that revealed nuclear capabilities of a foreign power. Polls have indicated that 44 percent of Americans believe the former president broke the law by hoarding these documents, and another 45 percent believe his push to overturn the election was illegal.

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