Former President Donald Trump is asking permission to defend himself in a Laramie civil court case that challenges his fitness to appear on the state’s election ballot.
Trump on Tuesday filed a motion to intervene in retired Laramie attorney Tim Newcomb’s Nov. 1 challenge in Albany County District Court, where Newcomb is asking a judge to block Secretary of State Chuck Gray from ever allowing Trump or U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis on the state’s ballots again.
Other than a 2018 action where Trump was named as a defendant in a man’s wrongful termination lawsuit against the Army, this appears to be the former president’s only direct involvement in a Wyoming state case.
‘A Frivolous Claim’
He pulled no punches Tuesday in his proposed motion to dismiss Newcomb’s lawsuit.
Trump called the lawsuit to get him off the ballot “a frivolous claim based on a hodgepodge of irrelevant ‘facts,’” and an “incoherent, sprawling morass” containing “hundreds of alleged factoids, quotes and sentence fragments that range across a wide expanse of irrelevant topics with little or no narrative thread to show how they relate to anything, let alone Plaintiff’s purposed claim.”
He’s asking Albany County District Court Judge Misha Westby to deem Newcomb’s lawsuit frivolous.
Trump’s motion also claims that Newcomb’s complaint is too early, or “not ripe,” that the amendment to the U.S. Constitution that Newcomb invokes is not a matter for state courts, and that the criteria to serve as president are a “political” rather than a judicial question.
Trump filed his proposed motion to dismiss the case, and his motion to intervene in it, through Cheyenne attorney Caleb Wilkins of Coal Creek Law.
Having heard from Wilkins, Newcomb informed the court in a Monday filing that he doesn’t oppose Trump’s intervention.
Newcomb wrote that the Wyoming Republican Party is planning to intervene as well, and he won’t oppose that either.
Bantering With Chuck Gray
Secretary of State Chuck Gray answered Newcomb’s lawsuit in a Dec. 7 motion to dismiss the case, arguing that Newcomb lacks standing to lodge a complaint and failed to state an injustice that Westby is able to correct.
Newcomb replied to Gray’s motion Monday.
He countered Gray’s arguments, saying the remedy he seeks is for Westby to declare that “the U.S. and Wyoming constitutions bar, from ever again holding office, those who swore an oath to the Constitution, only to adhere to its enemies.”
Newcomb in his original complaint accused Trump of inciting an insurrection Jan. 6, 2021, and Lummis of comforting the nation’s enemies by refusing to count Pennsylvania’s electoral vote due to concerns over the integrity of the 2020 election.
‘I Am Groot’
Both Trump and Gray in their separate filings criticized Newcomb’s unique complaint structure, which features numerous exterior links, including one to a video featuring Marvel superhero Groot’s powers, accompanied by the quote “I am Groot.”
“This disjointed litany is reflective of much of the complaint, which combines unsupported, conclusory statements loosely relating to President Trump with bizarre, largely incoherent non-sequiturs (sic),” wrote Wilkins, on Trump’s behalf.
Newcomb told Cowboy State Daily in November that he sees the Constitution’s 14th Amendment as Groot, since the hero rescued everyone from disaster by surrounding them with his protective limbs.
In response to Gray’s critique, Newcomb asked Westby “to reserve judgement until a meaningful opportunity to be heard might allow (Newcomb) to demonstrate both relevance and admissibility” of the exterior links.
Newcomb also claimed in his filing that Gray’s motion to dismiss demonstrates “animosity to the 14th Amendment being applied in Wyoming.” He rebuked Gray for advocating for Wyoming’s ban on nearly all abortions, and he questioned whether the Wyoming Attorney General can uphold her integrity after advocating for Gray in court.
“The court should deny Defendant Gray’s motion to dismiss,” Newcomb’s response concludes.
As for whether Westby will allow Trump to intervene in the case, Trump argues in his filing that justice and the law demand it.
“President Trump’s rights and actions are the core issues in this case,” reads the filing. “If this court were to deny President Trump’s application to intervene, it would impede his ability to protect his interests.”
A person must satisfy four factors to have a right to intervene in a case: that he has a significant interest in the case; the lawsuit’s outcome will have some impact on his interest; the existing parties in the lawsuit won’t represent his interests adequately; and his motion to join the case should be timely.
If the judge determines that Trump doesn’t have a right to join the case, he could still join it via “permissive intervention,” meaning the judge could let him into the case on her discretion. That’s appropriate when the application is timely, the intervenor’s claims have something to do with the legal question of the case, and his joining wouldn’t prejudice anyone or delay the case.
Gray told Cowboy State Daily he will "continue to fight to keep President Trump on the ballot."
He called the lawsuit a weaponization of the 14th Amendment "by the radical left" and said it undermines the state's election process.
"We also acknowledged in our filing that President Trump and Senator Lummis should be allowed to intervene as well," Gray added.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.