Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows says she was following Maine’s election law and upholding the U.S. Constitution when she disqualified Donald Trump from her state’s presidential primary ballot.

Maine is the second state to bar Trump from the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution — a decision the Trump campaign said it would appeal. It is the only state where a challenge to a candidate’s qualification is initially the responsibility of the secretary of state rather than a court.

CBS News spoke with Bellows shortly after the release of her decision Thursday night.

The interview was restricted to a discussion of her ruling and the process, leaving unanswered questions about risks to her potential safety. In the wake of the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling to disqualify Trump from holding office — a ruling that’s currently on hold pending appeal — the Colorado justices who voted to bar him have been inundated with threats.

“In evaluating the weight of the evidence, it (was) made clear that Mr. Trump was aware of the tinder that was laid in a multi-month effort to delegitimize the 2020 election and (he) then chose to light a match,” said Bellows, a Democrat who took office in 2021.

“The U.S. Constitution does not tolerate an assault on the foundations of our government. And Maine election law required me to act in response,” she said. “The events of January 6 were unprecedented and tragic. It was an assault not only on the Capitol and government officials, including the former vice president and members of Congress, but on the rule of law itself. … Mr. Trump engaged in that insurrection and thereby, is not qualified to be on the ballot.”

Under Maine law, voters can petition the secretary of state with challenges to a candidate’s qualifications for office, and then a public hearing is held where the challengers must make their case.

“In Maine, we’re very proud of our voting rights. We were first in the nation in 2022 with voter participation. And we have a statute that makes me different from any other state that I have observed,” said Bellows. “My obligation under Maine state law was to issue a decision very quickly. I’m not permitted under Maine law to wait for the United States Supreme Court to intervene in this particular proceeding.”

An appeal of the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Should the high court decide to review the case, it could have wide-ranging implications for other challenges to Trump’s eligibility across the country.

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