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Turley warns of the 'single most dangerous constitutional theory' being pushed to disqualify Trump in 2024

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley condemned on Tuesday a constitutional argument being floated to disqualify Trump from the White House.

An increasing number oflegal scholars have argued that Trump is constitutionally disqualified from ever holding office again under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. They claim Trump participated in an "insurrection" or "rebellion" against the U.S., pointing to the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

The argument, Turley said on Fox News, is the "single most dangerous constitutional theory I have seen pop up in decades."

To support his belief that the argument is bunk, Turley asked one critical question: "What was Jan. 6?"

"In the view of many citizens, including myself, it was a protest that became a riot. It was not a rebellion or insurrection. But that’s a matter of disagreement between citizens," Turley said.

The fact that intelligent, well-intentioned people disagree about Jan. 6 — some believe it was an "insurrection" while others, like Turley, believe it was a riot — suggests that disqualifying Trump on the basis of Jan. 6 would disenfranchise both Trump and voters who support him. But more importantly, Turley pointed out that Trump is not officially accused of participating in an insurrection or even inciting one.

"Donald Trump hasn't been charged with insurrection, not even incitement," he explained. "Special counsel Jack Smith charged him with a variety of crimes like fraud. He notably did not charge him with even incitement."

Finally, Turley explained why he believes the attempt to use the 14th Amendment against Trump is a "considerable reach" and "dangerous."

"We have a relatively small number of people who were charged, and some convicted, of a seditious conspiracy. That crime can be a conspiracy to stop legal proceedings; it's not synonymous with a legal rebellion or insurrection," he said. "There were a relatively small number of people who received that charge — Donald Trump was not one of them."

Former federal prosecutor Elie Honig, meanwhile, explained on Monday why the legal theory simply is not practical.

"What [14th Amendment proponents] are proposing essentially is that every state, local, county official who handles ballots will just decide on their own whether [Trump] is disqualified or not," he said on CNN. "That would lead to wild inconsistency and chaos, and I don't think that's a viable, practical solution here."

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