Trump thanks supreme court for turning down challenge to candidacy, calls decision ‘very well crafted’

Donald Trump is now delivering a meandering speech at Mar-a-Lago, where he has cheered the supreme court ruling allowing him to stay on presidential ballots, while also issuing familiar denunciations of the criminal cases against him.

At the start of his remarks, the former president thanked the supreme court, saying the decision was “very well crafted. And I think it will go a long way toward bringing our country together, which our country needs. And … they worked hard.”

Key events

The day so far

The supreme court overturned a Colorado ruling that barred Donald Trump from the state’s ballot for his involvement in the January 6 insurrection, issuing a decision that judges nationwide will likely cite to allow him to compete in the remaining Republican primaries, and the November general election. However, the court’s three liberal justices and one conservative worried that the authors of the majority opinion went further than necessary, though for different reasons. In remarks from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump thanked the court for their ruling, while also encouraging them to find him immune from prosecution for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election. That matter has yet to be decided.

Here’s what else is going today:

  • Allen Weisselberg, Trump’s former finance chief, pleaded guilty to perjury in New York City.

  • Trump’s allies in Congress, including House speaker Mike Johnson and potential vice-presidential pick Elise Stefanik were also pleased with the supreme court’s ruling.

  • The justices did not absolve Trump of the charge that he was involved in an insurrection, noted Neal Katyal, who used to argued before the supreme court on behalf of Barack Obama.

But Donald Trump’s business with the supreme court isn’t finished, and the former president made a point of mentioning that in his speech.

The justices have agreed to take up his argument that he is immune from prosecution for allegedly trying to overturn his 2020 election defeat, and a ruling in his favor could deal a death blow to special counsel Jack Smith’s case against him.

At Mar-a-Lago, Trump said he hoped the high court would once again rule in his favor:

And while we’re on the subject, and another thing that will be coming up very soon, will be immunity for a president, and not immunity for me, but for any president. If a president doesn’t have full immunity, you really don’t have a president, because nobody that is serving in that office will have the courage to make, in many cases, what would be the right decision, or it could be the wrong decision. It could be in some cases the wrong decision, but they have to make decisions and they have to make them free of all terror that can be rained upon them when they leave office or even before they leave office, and some decisions are very tough.

I can tell you that as a president that some decisions to make are very tough. I took out ISIS and I took out some very big people from the standpoint of a different part of the world, two of the leading terrorists, probably the two leading terrorists ever, that we’ve ever seen in this world. And those are big decisions. I don’t want to be prosecuted for it.

The charges against Trump don’t deal with his decisions to kill America’s enemies, but rather his multi-pronged strategy to block Joe Biden from taking office.

Trump thanks supreme court for turning down challenge to candidacy, calls decision ‘very well crafted’

Donald Trump is now delivering a meandering speech at Mar-a-Lago, where he has cheered the supreme court ruling allowing him to stay on presidential ballots, while also issuing familiar denunciations of the criminal cases against him.

At the start of his remarks, the former president thanked the supreme court, saying the decision was “very well crafted. And I think it will go a long way toward bringing our country together, which our country needs. And … they worked hard.”

Trump to speak at Mar-a-Lago after supreme court allows him to remain on ballots

Donald Trump is expected to soon deliver remarks from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after the supreme court this morning overturned a Colorado ruling that removed him from the presidential ballot.

The court’s unanimous decision is expected to allow him to remain on primary and general election ballots nationwide and thwart a legal campaign to remove him over his participation in the January 6 insurrection.

We’ll let you know what Trump says.

Former Trump organization finance chief enters guilty plea to perjury charges

As expected, Donald Trump’s former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg has admitted to committing perjury in New York City. It’s unclear what that will mean for the former president’s upcoming trial on charges related to paying hush money, but one thing that is clear is that Weisselberg is likely headed back to jail.

Here’s more on all that, from the Guardian’s Callum Jones:

Allen Weisselberg, a longtime lieutenant to Donald Trump, faces five months in jail after reaching an agreement with prosecutors in New York to plead guilty to perjury in the former US president’s recent civil fraud trial charges.

As the former chief financial officer in the Trump Organization, Weisselberg was key in helping Trump record his net worth. A defendant in the fraud trial, Weisselberg was accused of helping to inflate Trump’s net worth on government financial documents, misleading lenders.

That trial ended with a judge imposing a huge financial penalty of more than $450m including interest on Trump. Weisselberg, 76, was ordered to pay $1.1m and permanently banned from serving in the financial control function of any New York business.

Weisselberg also faces five months in jail after pleading guilty to perjury.

On the witness stand in October, Weisselberg was evasive, often saying he did not recall the real estate valuations that were at the center of the trial.

Trump’s Republican allies cheer supreme court ruling allowing him back on ballots

Donald Trump’s many Republican allies in Congress welcomed the supreme court’s ruling allowing him to continue his run for president.

Here’s speaker of the House Mike Johnson, a leader of the failed effort to get the supreme court to block Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020:

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed what we all knew: the Colorado Supreme Court engaged in a purely partisan attack against the frontrunner for the Republican presidential primary. States engaging in the same activist, undemocratic behaviors should take notice and leave it to the American people to decide who will be president.

And New York congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a member of House Republican leadership who is also seen as a potential running mate for Trump:

Today’s unanimous 9-0 Supreme Court decision is a victory for the American people, the Constitution, and our Republic. As I have said since the start, extreme Democrats will shred the Constitution in order to prevent the American people from exercising their constitutional right to vote for President Donald Trump. This dangerous attempt by the radical Left to suppress votes was fundamentally unAmerican and why I was proud to sign on to the amicus brief to the Supreme Court. We the people decide elections, not unelected radical leftists.

Finally, Jim Jordan, the Ohio congressman and chair of the House judiciary committee who has used the committee’s powers to pursue Joe Biden and his officials:

Big win for common sense and democracy!

From the Guardian’s Sam Levine, here’s more on what the supreme court’s decision today will mean for Donald Trump’s bid to return to the White House:

Donald Trump was wrongly removed from Colorado’s primary ballot last year, the US supreme court has ruled, clearing the way for Trump to appear on the ballot in all 50 states.

The court’s unanimous decision overturns a 4-3 ruling from the Colorado supreme court that said the former president could not run because he had engaged in insurrection during the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. The Colorado decision was a novel interpretation of section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars insurrectionists from holding office.

“We conclude that States may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office. But States have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency,” the court wrote in an unsigned opinion. Congress, the court said, had to enact the procedures for disqualification under Section 3.

“State-by-state resolution of the question whether Section 3 bars a particular candidate for President from serving would be quite unlikely to yield a uniform answer consistent with the basic principle that the President … represent[s] all the voters in the Nation,” the court added.

Colorado’s presidential primary is Tuesday and Trump had been allowed to appear on the ballot while the case was pending. Maine and a judge in Illinois had also excluded Trump from the ballot – decisions that are now likely to quickly be reversed.

A few points about the supreme court’s decision allowing Donald Trump to continue running for president, from the Neal Katyal, a former justice department official who argued supreme court cases on behalf of Barack Obama:

It’s a win for Trump. At the same time, remember that the Supreme Court’s decision today did not do what Donald Trump had asked: clear him of insurrection. The Colorado court found that he so was, and Trump had an entire section of his SCOTUS brief arguing he was peaceful on 1/6.…

— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) March 4, 2024

While no members of the court’s three-justice liberal minority dissented, they make clear in their concurrence that they aren’t happy with the conclusion reached by the majority.

They open with a quote from the conservative chief justice John Roberts’s concurrence in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the 2022 decision that overturned Roe v Wade and allowed states to ban abortion, where he writes: “If it is not necessary to decide more to dispose of a case, then it is necessary not to decide more.”

The liberals argue that the majority weighed in on more issues than were necessary in their ruling keeping Trump on the ballot:

Today, the Court departs from that vital principle, deciding not just this case, but challenges that might arise in the future. In this case, the Court must decide whether Colorado may keep a Presidential candidate off the ballot on the ground that he is an oathbreaking insurrectionist and thus disqualified from holding federal office under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. Allowing Colorado to do so would, we agree, create a chaotic state-by-state patchwork, at odds with our Nation’s federalism principles. That is enough to resolve this case. Yet the majority goes further. Even though “[a]ll nine Members of the Court” agree that this independent and sufficient rationale resolves this case, five Justices go on. They decide novel constitutional questions to insulate this Court and petitioner from future controversy … Although only an individual State’s action is at issue here, the majority opines on which federal actors can enforce Section 3, and how they must do so. The majority announces that a disqualification for insurrection can occur only when Congress enacts a particular kind of legislation pursuant to Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. In doing so, the majority shuts the door on other potential means of federal enforcement. We cannot join an opinion that decides momentous and difficult issues unnecessarily, and we therefore concur only in the judgment.

They sum up their argument by accusing the majority of trying to water down laws that bar insurrectionists from federal office:

By resolving these and other questions, the majority attempts to insulate all alleged insurrectionists from future challenges to their holding federal office.

No justices dissented from the opinion, but two concurrences were filed.

The first is by Amy Coney Barrett, a Donald Trump-appointed conservative. She criticizes the majority’s opinion for, essentially, overreaching on a sensitive subject at a sensitive time, by deciding Congress must enforce the constitution’s disqualification clause:

This suit was brought by Colorado voters under state law in state court. It does not require us to address the complicated question whether federal legislation is the exclusive vehicle through which Section 3 can be enforced.

The majority’s choice of a different path leaves the remaining Justices with a choice of how to respond. In my judgment, this is not the time to amplify disagreement with stridency. The Court has settled a politically charged issue in the volatile season of a Presidential election. Particularly in this circumstance, writings on the Court should turn the national temperature down, not up. For present purposes, our differences are far less important than our unanimity: All nine Justices agree on the outcome of this case. That is the message Americans should take home.

Beneath the supreme court’s unanimous opinion on Donald Trump’s eligibility to run for president were deep fractures over how far the decision should go.

We’ll start off with the majority’s view, which was signed onto by five of the court’s conservative justices – chief justice John Roberts and associate justices, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Fearing that allowing states to enforce the constitution’s disqualification clause would upend presidential elections, the opinion reads:

An evolving electoral map could dramatically change the behavior of voters, parties, and States across the country, in different ways and at different times. The disruption would be all the more acute —and could nullify the votes of millions and change the election result – if Section 3 enforcement were attempted after the Nation has voted. Nothing in the Constitution requires that we endure such chaos – arriving at any time or different times, up to and perhaps beyond the Inauguration.

For the reasons given, responsibility for enforcing Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates rests with Congress and not the States. The judgment of the Colorado Supreme Court therefore cannot stand.

‘BIG WIN FOR AMERICA!!!’ Trump says, after supreme court allows him to keep running

The headline says it all. In a post on Truth Social following the supreme court’s unanimous ruling allowing him to remain on presidential ballots, Donald Trump said:


Ruling set to allow Trump to stay on ballots nationwide

The US supreme court’s unanimous ruling overturning a decision by Colorado’s top court that barred Donald Trump from the ballot for his involvement in January 6 will resolve the question of the former president’s ability to run for office nationwide.

At issue was whether states could enforce section three of the 14th amendment to disqualify someone from running for federal office, such as the presidency. That part of the constitution has been cited by state-level judges, including in Colorado, who removed Trump from ballots in lawsuits brought by pro-democracy groups.

In their decision, the US supreme court writes:

We conclude that States may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office. But States have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency.

Supreme court allows Trump to remain on Colorado’s presidential ballot

The supreme court has allowed Donald Trump to remain on Colorado’s presidential ballot, rejecting a state supreme court decision barring him from the election because of his involvement in January 6.

Former finance chief not expected to testify against Trump despite guilty plea – report

The Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg is expected to this morning enter a guilty plea to perjury charges, but is not expected to testify against Donald Trump, CNN reports.

Weisselberg is accused of perjuring himself while testifying at Trump’s civil fraud trial, and by pleading guilty, he may avoid being called as a witness in his separate trial on criminal charges related to a hush money payment.

Here’s more on Weisselberg’s expected guilty plea, from CNN:

Weisselberg has been in plea talks with Manhattan prosecutors for several weeks relating to his testimony taken during the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into the former president in 2020 and when he testified last year, several people familiar with the investigation said.

The exact charges he will plead guilty to are not clear.

As part of the plea talks, Weisselberg is not expected to turn on Trump and will not testify against him at the criminal trial scheduled to start later this year, the people said.

Trump is indicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment and reimbursement before the 2016 presidential election. Weisselberg was central to the financial dealings but neither prosecutors nor Trump’s attorneys said they plan to call him as a witness. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

It will be the second guilty plea by Weisselberg, who in 2022 pleaded guilty to 15 counts of tax fraud and testified in the trial of two Trump Org. entities. Weisselberg was credited with giving truthful testimony and the entities were convicted and fined. The judge sentenced Weisselberg to five months in jail and supervised release. He served about 100 days in Rikers Island jail.

Here’s the Guardian’s Lauren Aratani with a look at how Weisselberg’s alleged perjury affects two major cases involving the former president:

The Colorado supreme court’s disqualification of Donald Trump has complicated its presidential primary, which will be held tomorrow. The Guardian’s Maanvi Singh looks into it:

An air of uncertainty hangs over Colorado voters as they mark their ballots in the state’s presidential primaries.

Colorado is at the centre of perhaps the most dramatic, high-stakes legal disputes that the US supreme court has seen in the past century. The nation’s highest court is expected to decide an appeal of a Colorado ruling that disqualified Donald Trump from the state’s ballot under the 14th amendment to the US constitution, for inciting an insurrection.

After oral arguments in early February, the justices seemed skeptical that the former president was constitutionally disqualified from running – but the case remains pending. As Trump’s candidacy in the 2024 presidential election becomes increasingly inevitable with each passing primary, his eligibility to run in these primaries remains – puzzlingly – unclear.

Yet, in Colorado, campaigning and early voting seem to – more or less – be carrying on as usual. Trump’s name remains on the primary ballot. Hundreds of thousands of people have already voted, and many more are expected at the polls on 5 March.

For a sense of how, if at all, the supreme court case could affect voters and election workers. The Guardian spoke with Bente Birkeland, a public affairs reporter at Colorado Public Radio who has covered state politics for 15 years, and Seth Masket, the director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver, who studies political parties and runs a newsletter about the 2024 Republican primaries.

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Supreme court expected to turn down challenges to Trump’s ballot eligibility

If the supreme court rules on Donald Trump’s ballot eligibility this morning, do not be surprised if they issue an unanimous, or near-unanimous, ruling allowing him to remain on ballots. Six conservative justices, three of whom Trump appointed, outnumber the three liberals, but just about all of the justices sounded skeptical of the Colorado supreme court’s ruling barring Trump from the state’s primary ballot over his participation in January 6, which was the issue at hand when the judges heard the case last month.

What’s less clear is if the court’s decision will only affect Colorado, or be written to decide the issue nationwide. From February, here’s the Guardian’s Sam Levine with a rundown of how the justices appeared to be leaning:

The US supreme court appeared skeptical of a Colorado decision removing Donald Trump from the state’s primary ballot during nearly two hours of oral arguments on Thursday. It seems poised to rule Trump is not constitutionally disqualified from running for president.

The case is perhaps the most high-stakes legal dispute to arrive at the court this century and thrusts the court to the center of a politically charged election. A majority of justices, including some from the court’s liberal wing, voiced concern about the chaos that would ensue if they allowed states to decide whether to disqualify candidates from the ballot.

“What do you do with the, what would seem to be, the big, plain consequences of your position? If Colorado’s position is upheld, surely there will be disqualification proceedings on the other side and some of those will succeed,” the chief justice, John Roberts, asked Jason Murray, the lawyer who argued on behalf of the Colorado voters.

“I would expect that a goodly number of states will say whoever the Democratic candidate is, you’re off the ballot, and others, for the Republican candidate, you’re off the ballot. It will come down to just a handful of states that are going to decide the presidential election. That’s a pretty daunting consequence,” Roberts added.

Supreme court to issue decisions with Trump ballot eligibility case pending

Good morning, US politics blog readers. The supreme court will at 10am ET today issue opinions. As usual, we don’t know what the nine justices will weigh in on, but the timing makes it seem like they might hand their decision on whether Donald Trump can remain on the ballot in Colorado, and potentially nationwide. The justices heard arguments in the matter last month, and most, if not all, seemed skeptical of the prospect of booting the former president from the ballot for his involvement in the January 6 insurrection. And while the high court was reviewing a ruling from the Colorado supreme court, it’s possible that their ruling decides the question nationwide, since the campaign to bar Trump has had wins and losses in several states. Another reason to think the supreme court may rule today: Colorado is among the states voting in tomorrow’s Super Tuesday primaries.

Here’s what else is going on today:

  • Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former finance chief, will plead guilty to perjury.

  • Decisions could come in two other legal matters concerning Trump: when he’ll stand trial for allegedly hoarding classified documents, and if the prosecutor who indicted him for meddling in Georgia’s election will be allowed to remain on the case. Judges heard arguments in both matters last week.

  • Ahead of his 7 March State of the Union address, Joe Biden’s senior officials and cabinet secretaries are traveling across the country and holding interviews to promote his policies, the White House announced, as the president faces worrying re-election prospects.

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