Even though Donald Trump is now the nation’s front-running presidential candidate in both polls and betting odds, the Colorado Supreme Court has issued a 4–3 decision that bans the citizens of Colorado from voting for him. The supposed grounds for their decision is that Trump can’t be the president under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment because he “engaged in insurrection on January 6, 2021.”
To support that claim, the Colorado judges—all appointed by Democrats—repeatedly quote Trump out of context to make it seem like he said things that he did not.
“Very Different Rules”
In their decision, the majority of judges assert that Trump “told his supporters” on January 6th that “they were ‘allowed to go by very different rules’” and that those words “were intended to produce imminent lawless action.”
The judges repeat the phrase “very different rules” four different times, but they never reveal the words that immediately follow. These prove that Trump was not talking about his “supporters,” as the judges allege, but Mike Pence. Per the transcript of Trump’s speech:
When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules. So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do.
Those words refer to Trump’s call for Pence to send the electors “back to the States to recertify,” as Trump said in the same speech.
The broader context also reveals that Trump was speaking about Congress, a point he raised four times in his speech. That’s because Congress was debating on that day whether the 2020 election was carried out in accord with the U.S. Constitution and whether the federal Electoral Count Act allowed Congress to object to “States that did not follow the constitutional requirement for selecting electors.”
Trump’s statement was true at the time, as shown by the text of the Electoral Count Act, which specified very different rules for cases of potential fraud. However, Democrats, several Republicans, and President Biden changed this law in 2022 to remove certain checks against election fraud.
“Fight Like Hell”
Echoing the 2021 impeachment resolution of Trump, the Colorado judges claim that Trump “gave a speech in which he literally exhorted his supporters to fight at the Capitol.” Their alleged proof of this is that Trump “used the word ‘fight’ or variations of it” 20 times on January 6.
Yet, the judges only cite the following cases of Trump using the word “fight,” none of which literally calls for violence:
- “Republicans are constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back. It’s like a boxer. And we want to be so nice. We want to be so respectful of everybody, including bad people. And we’re going to have to fight much harder.”
- “And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Seemingly ignorant of the fact that the words “literal” and “coded” have opposing meanings, the judges claim that the statements above were “coded language” that Trump used as “literal calls to violence.”
More importantly, the full record of Trump’s remarks show that he was talking about legal and verbal fighting, not physical violence. Ten of the 20 times in which Trump used the word “fight” are found in the following statements where the context is unmistakable:
- Rudy Giuliani has “guts, he fights. He fights.”
- “Jim Jordan, and some of these guys. They’re out there fighting the House.”
- “If they don’t fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight. You primary them.”
- “The American people do not believe the corrupt fake news anymore. They have ruined their reputation. But it used to be that they’d argue with me, I’d fight. So I’d fight, they’d fight. I’d fight, they’d fight. … They had their point of view, I had my point of view. But you’d have an argument. Now what they do is they go silent. It’s called suppression. And that’s what happens in a communist country.”
Exposing the double standards of those who claim that Trump’s use of the word “fight” was a call for violence, video footage shows Congressional Democrats using the word “fight” more than 200 times, including more than a dozen times in which they used the exact phrase for which they impeached Trump: “fight like hell.”
“To the Capitol”
Another phrase that the Colorado judges focus on is “to the Capitol,” which Trump used three times in his speech. The judges allege that these words were part of Trump’s plot to engage “in an insurrection” by physically preventing “Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election and stop the peaceful transfer of power.”
In reality, the context shows the polar opposite is true. The first time Trump used the phrase “to the Capitol,” he said:
We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.
The judges bury the fact that Trump told his supporters to protest “peacefully and patriotically”—127 pages into their ruling. Then they dismiss this fact in two sentences by arguing that Trump told the crowd an hour later to “fight like hell” just before he told them to go to the Capitol. Here again, the full context of Trump’s words reveals no explicit or implicit calls for violence:
We’re going walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.
The same applies to Trump’s other use of the phrase “to the Capitol,” in which he called for a protest to sway the votes of “weak” Republicans, not to stop the proceedings:
So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give—the Democrats are hopeless. They’re never voting for anything, not even one vote. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.
Near the end of their ruling, the Colorado Supreme Court adjudicates whether Trump intended to “produce violent or lawless action.” They then cram all of their out-of-context quotes into a single sentence which asserts that Trump urged his supporters to go “to the Capitol,” “fight like hell,” and go by “very different rules.”
In reality, the full context of Trump’s words show that he told his supporters to:
- go “to the Capitol” peacefully and patriotically.
- “fight like hell” politically and verbally.
- encourage Mike Pence and Congress to follow the “very different rules” that federal law specified for cases of potential election fraud.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr