Republican lawmakers want to impeach Colorado’s Secretary of State over her support for removing Trump from the ballot

Jena Griswold
David Zalubowski/AP
Colorado’s Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold speaks during a news conference in Denver on Oct. 15, 2020.

Impeachment could be coming to the Colorado Capitol soon.

Colorado House Republicans are pushing forward an effort to try to impeach Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold over her vocal support of the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to remove former President Donald Trump from the state’s primary ballot. 

“January 6 was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. Donald Trump incited an insurrection and attempted to steal the presidency from the American people,” Griswold said in a statement on the day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case. Earlier this week, the high court tossed out Colorado’s ruling in a unanimous decision.

While Colorado’s constitution allows for the impeachment of elected state officials, the power hasn’t been successfully invoked at any time in recent memory.

Republican Rep. Ryan Armagost is spearheading the impeachment effort against Griswold. He drafted a resolution, backed by all 19 House Republicans, and is working to get it introduced.

“She comes out with unfair and completely biased rhetoric in all of her press releases, her social media, and everything else,” Armagost told CPR News “And that's, in our opinion, not appropriate for that position.” 

Republicans have long been upset with Griswold’s full-throated opposition to Trump, saying it has been polarizing and that her rhetoric is too partisan for someone who oversees an election system that all Coloradans, regardless of political affiliation, need to be able to trust. 

While Griswold has staunchly defended the security and reliability of Colorado’s elections, Armagost said her partisanship has undermined the faith of voters, especially those on the right, in the system.  

“I think this exacerbates the lack of trust in the system of voting,” he said. 

But for him, Griswold’s vocal support for removing Trump from the primary ballot was the final straw.

“It's just been bad-mouthing [Trump] on social media. So that was the overall kind of, enough is enough,” said Armagost. 

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Republican state Rep. Ryan Armagost on the House floor, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.

In an interview with CPR News earlier this month, Griswold defended her position on the legal case and said she stands by her belief that Trump should not be a candidate for President.

“I believe Colorado and states have the authority to bar oath-breaking Insurrectionists from our ballot,” said Griswold.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment bars former officeholders who try to overthrow the government from holding office again. However, the U.S. Supreme Court found that states don’t have the authority to apply that provision to federal candidates.

Griswold noted that she didn’t bring the original lawsuit; it was actually filed against her office by a group of Republican and unaffiliated voters, “who, themselves, did not want to be disenfranchised by having a disqualified candidate on the ballot.” 

And she added that it is not partisan to stand up for democracy.

“I vividly live on almost a daily basis with what it means to stand up for democracy in this country. And what it means is you get an almost endless and continuous round of threats to your life,” she said. “I'll always stand up for our democracy, regardless of partisan tilts.”

In a written statement, Speaker of the House Julie McCluskie called the GOP impeachment effort an “unwarranted waste of time” and said she was disappointed by what she sees as her Republican colleagues bowing to the most extreme fringes of their party. 

“The only views of hers they object to were also shared by the Colorado Supreme Court: that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection against the United States. Donald Trump is the problem, not the secretary. But instead of dealing with MAGA extremists in their ranks, they’re defending Trump and attacking his opponents,” said McCluskie.

She told CPR News that Griswold, like all Americans, is entitled to her own views. 

It’s up to McCluskie to decide if the resolution will be introduced. And if she does allow it to move forward, she also has the power to either send it to a committee hearing or directly to the full House chamber for a vote. 

Earlier this week, the House GOP wrote McCluskie a letter imploring her to bring the legislation to the floor “immediately,” but she has not committed publicly to a timeline. 

Under state rules, the impeachment measure would need a simple majority to pass the House and then have to gain a supermajority of support in the Senate to remove Griswold from her position. However, with Democrats holding wide majorities in both chambers, even backers of the effort know it stands no chance.

“We're the super minority,” said Armagost. “It's going to fail, but this at least sends the message that we need to send as a party and a caucus,” said Armagost.