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    Newsom warns efforts to keep Trump off California ballot could be ‘political distraction’

    Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) warned efforts to prevent former President Trump from getting on the ballot in his state could be a “political distraction” Thursday.

    “There is no doubt that Donald Trump is a threat to our liberties and even to our democracy,” Newsom said Friday in a statement, which was first reported by Politico. “But, in California, we defeat candidates at the polls.”

    “Everything else is a political distraction,” he added.

    His comments come after California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis said the state should look into “every legal option” to remove Trump over 14th Amendment concerns.

    While some efforts to keep the former president off primary ballots have failed — including challenges in Michigan and Minnesota — one state was successful in its effort to bar Trump over his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

    The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday removed Trump the state’s Republican primary ballot under the 14th amendment’s “insurrection clause” in a 4-3 ruling. The high court concluded that the former president had engaged in an insurrection by inflaming his supporters with false claims of election fraud and directing them to the Capitol.

    Kounalakis suggested the ruling was inspiration to try to launch her own challenge in the Golden State, appealing to California Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D). 

    “Based on the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling … I urge you to explore every legal option to remove former President Donald Trump from California’s 2024 presidential primary ballot,” Kounalakis wrote to Weber (D). 

    “This decision is about honoring the rule of law in our country and protecting the fundamental pillars of democracy,” she added.

    Under the insurrection clause, anyone who has taken an oath of office is prohibited from engaging in an insurrection or rebellion against the U.S. government. The Colorado Supreme Court determined Tuesday that the clause does cover the office of the president.

    “We do not reach these conclusions lightly,” the state Supreme Court wrote in its decision. “We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us. We are likewise mindful of our solemn duty to apply the law, without fear or favor, and without being swayed by public reaction to the decisions that the law mandates we reach.”  

    Like Newsom, activists and other Democrats have shown caution around the recent Colorado ruling.

    Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who is challenging Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination, said that it is “wrong” to keep Trump from the ballot.

    “Do I believe Trump is guilty of inspiring an insurrection and doing nothing to stop it? I was there. Absolutely,” Phillips wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Do I believe it’s wrong to ban him from the ballot in Colorado without a conviction? Absolutely. Do I believe the SCOTUS must opine immediately? Absolutely.”

    The Hill has reached out to Newsom’s office for comment.

    Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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