As officials across the country consider whether to exclude former President Donald J. Trump from the ballot due to his role in the events of January 6, 2021, a contingent of House Republicans is attempting to reinforce his claim that he did nothing wrong.
More than 60 Republicans — led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York — said Tuesday they had signed a resolution declaring that Mr. Trump “did not engage in the insurrection.”
The measure aims to influence courts and state election officials who are weighing whether Mr. Trump is eligible to hold office under the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists, an issue that casts a cloud over the primary season and as Mr. Trump inches closer to the Republican nomination. Senator JD Vance, Republican of Ohio, is introducing a companion measure in the Senate.
“It is not the job of the states, and especially not the job of some bureaucrats in Colorado, to make that assessment and interfere with the right of voters to vote for the candidate of their choice,” Mr. Gaetz said during a press conference. conference, flanked by Republican colleagues.
Mr. Trump was disqualified from voting in Colorado and Maine. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the former president’s appeal of the Colorado ruling, and arguments will begin Thursday.
At issue is whether Mr. Trump violates Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits those sworn to support the Constitution from holding office if they “subsequently engaged in insurrection or rebellion against it, or gave aid or comfort to its enemies.
In 2021, the Democratic-controlled House impeached Mr. Trump for inciting insurrection after he summoned a large mob in Washington that ultimately attacked the Capitol and injured about 150 police officers. He was acquitted by the Senate, but now faces criminal charges.
Mr. Trump has been charged in federal court in Washington and in state court in Georgia with conspiring to illegally overturn the 2020 election. Those cases have not yet gone to trial.
The House Republican news conference featured members of the party leadership and the far-right House Freedom Caucus. Representative Bob Good of Virginia, chairman of the Freedom Caucus which supported the failed bid of Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida for the Republican nomination, was there to show his support for Mr. Trump.
Criticizing the prosecution of Mr. Trump, Mr. Good condemned the Justice Department as the “department of injustice.”
“What more effective way to rig an election than to prevent your opponent from voting? » Mr. Good said.
For years, Republicans in Congress have mounted a massive effort to rewrite the events of Jan. 6, downplaying or denying the violence and deflecting investigative efforts.
Tuesday’s news conference came as Mr. Trump continued to exert his influence at the Capitol, pushing congressional Republicans to cancel a bipartisan deal to strengthen security at the southern border. But an impeachment vote against Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the Homeland Security secretary, failed in the House Tuesday night.
Democrats and some law enforcement officials have condemned Mr. Gaetz’s efforts.
Michael Fanone, a former District of Columbia police officer who was seriously injured during the Jan. 6 mob violence, called the resolution “a slap in the face to those of us who lost almost everything defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, including including the protection of the Capitol.” some of the members of Congress who are now trying to rewrite history to exonerate former President Trump. »
“But no piece of paper signed by a group of soulless extremists will ever change the facts about that dark day,” Mr. Fanone said in a statement. “The insurrection was violent, it was deadly, and it will happen again if we don’t eliminate the MAGA ideology that fanned the flames of the insurrection in the first place.” »