News

US state of Maine blocks Trump from Republican presidential primary

 

The US state of Maine on Thursday blocked former president
Donald Trump from its Republican presidential primary ballot, becoming the
second state to disqualify him over his role in the January 2021 assault on the
US Capitol.

 

Maine’s top election official, Secretary of State Shenna
Bellows, said in her ruling that the events of January 6, 2021 “occurred at the
behest of, and with the knowledge and support of, the outgoing President.”

 

“The US Constitution does not tolerate an assault on the
foundations of our government and (Maine law) requires me to act in response,”
read the ruling, which came in response to challenges filed by a handful of
Maine voters.

 

Maine joins Colorado, where the state supreme court earlier this
month found Trump ineligible for the presidency, moves that will certainly be
challenged in the US Supreme Court.

 

The rulings in both states invoked the US Constitution’s
14th Amendment, which bars from office anyone formerly sworn to protect the country
who later engages in insurrection.

 

“I do not reach this conclusion lightly,” wrote Bellows, a
Democrat. “I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a
presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the 14th
Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever
before engaged in insurrection.”

 

Trump’s campaign quickly slammed Bellows’ ruling as
“attempted theft of an election and the disenfranchisement of the American
voter” and called her a “virulent leftist and a hyper-partisan Biden-supporting
Democrat.”

 

“These partisan election interference efforts are a hostile
assault on American democracy,” campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a
statement, accusing President Joe Biden and Democrats of “relying on the force
of government institutions to protect their grip on power.”

 

Cheung said Trump would appeal the ruling.

 

Fellow Republicans jumped to Trump’s defense, including
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who is also seeking the party’s nomination.

 

“It opens up Pandora’s Box. Can you have a Republican
Secretary of State disqualify Biden from the ballot?” he said.

 

– Super Tuesday –

The Maine decision comes as Trump remains the front-running
Republican candidate to challenge Biden in next year’s vote.

 

The two are neck-and-neck in polls, and Biden has stepped up
his attacks on his predecessor in recent weeks, saying Trump “certainly
supported an insurrection. No question about it, none, zero.”

 

Biden recently told a campaign reception that “the greatest
threat Trump poses is to our democracy. Because if we lose, we lose
everything.”

 

He described Trump as “sitting there, watching it unfold on
TV as a mob attacked the Capitol” in the assault by the Republican’s supporters
on January 6, 2021, aimed at overturning Trump’s loss to Biden.

 

Trump continues to claim, without proof, that he is the
rightful winner of the 2020 vote.

 

He is scheduled to go on trial in Washington in March for
conspiring to overturn the results of the election, and also faces racketeering
charges in Georgia for allegedly conspiring to upend the election results in
the southern state after his defeat.

 

Maine and Colorado hold their nominating contests on March 5
— also known as “Super Tuesday” — when voters in more than a dozen states,
including populous California and Texas, go to the polls.

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