Trump Lawyers: Maine Secretary Is Disqualified From Ballot Decision

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump sent a letter Wednesday to Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, demanding she recuse herself from deciding the question of Mr. Trump’s 2024 ballot eligibility because she has a personal bias.

Maine allows its secretary of state to issue a decision regarding ballot eligibility, unlike other states such as Minnesota, Michigan and Colorado, where activists have sued in court to keep Trump off the ballot. Challengers may then appeal a decision by the secretary of state in Maine courts. Bellows ruled Trump ineligible Thursday in response to three petitions.

But Trump campaign lawyers say she is not qualified to make a decision and should recuse herself over three tweets she previously published in which she referenced the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill protest and referred to it as an insurrection. They argue that Bellows already had opinions about the claims in the petitions before seeing the evidence or arguments.

“The Jan 6 insurrection was an unlawful attempt to overthrow the results of a free and fair election. Today 57 Senators including King & Collins found Trump guilty. That’s short of impeachment but nevertheless an indictment. The insurrectionists failed, and democracy prevailed,” wrote Bellows on Twitter (now X) in Feb. 2021.

The letter to Bellows says she should recuse herself “because she has already concluded that President Trump engaged in insurrection. — a determination that she made well before the submission of evidence or argument in this current matter.”

“Using similar language, the Challengers have claimed that the events of January 6, 2021, constituted a violent insurrection and that President Trump somehow poses a danger from which Maine voters must be protected. Thus, the Secretary has already passed judgment on the Challengers’ core assertions,” attorneys for Trump wrote in the letter.

“Because the Secretary has exhibited a personal bias in this matter, she should disqualify herself from further proceedings,” the letter says. “President Trump deserves a fair and impartial hearing. [ … ] The Maine legislature and Maine courts demand that state administrative proceedings must be conducted fairly and with integrity.”