Dem 51
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GOP 49
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"Hopalong, Trump," Says Cassidy

Ok, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) didn't say it quite like that, but his meaning was the same. Appearing on CNN's State of the Union, the Senator shared his views that Trump can't win the 2024 election, that the former president is likely headed to prison, that the classified documents case in particular is "almost a slam dunk," and that he might not be eligible to run for president anyhow, in view of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Cassidy is plenty conservative, but he's also not especially Trumpy, having been one of the seven GOP senators who voted to convict in Trump's second impeachment trial. The Senator is also fairly close with his colleague to the north, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Cassidy could be freelancing, but he could also be working with McConnell and other traditional Republicans to slowly undermine Trump. It is not likely to work, but you don't know if you don't try, and if there are one or more criminal convictions by mid-2024, stranger things have happened.

Meanwhile, some of the Republican presidential candidates are starting to embrace the Fourteenth Amendment argument. Asa Hutchinson was also on CNN on Sunday, and he also alluded to Trump's potential ineligibility. "I'm not even sure he's qualified to be the next president of the United States," said the former Arkansas governor. "I'm referring to the Fourteenth Amendment. A number of legal scholars said that he is disqualified because of his actions on January 6."

Even if Trump is able to delay his trials, we think that the Fourteenth Amendment issue is a real problem for him. The question cannot really be tested in court until there is an actual ballot to fight over. But once there is, there are going to be lawsuits, if Trump's name appears, or if it doesn't. And to have legal scholars, U.S. senators and Republican presidential candidates talking about the Fourteenth Amendment now will serve to get the idea out there and to normalize it. This does not mean that Trump actually will be disqualified. And even if he is, the base will be howling mad, of course. But if non-fanatical Republicans and independents have been primed to accept that there's a valid legal argument here, that could go far in preventing anti-Democratic backlash at the ballot box. (Z)

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