Trump claims absolute immunity in attempt to launch Jan 6 lawsuit against Democrats, Capitol Police officers
Washington – Lawyers for former President Donald Trump argued on Monday that he was entitled to broad immunity from civil lawsuits attempting to hold him accountable for his role in theat the United States Capitol, as they sought to convince a federal judge to dismiss a trio of lawsuits brought against him in the wake of last year’s violent assault.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta heard oral arguments spanning approximately five hours to determine whether to grant the former president’s request to dismiss the civil cases or to allow them to proceed. before.
Democraticfrom California, and one , led by Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, each accused the former president of instigating an uprising on Capitol Hill on Jan.6.
The lawsuit filed by Swalwell also named Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer Donald Trump Jr., and GOP congressman Mo Brooks from Alabama. The costume of the electoral votes and reaffirming the victory of the President Biden in the 2020 presidential election.alleges that Trump, Giuliani and two far-right groups, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, conspired to incite a mob of his supporters to violate Capitol Hill to prevent Congress from counting state
Trump, however, claims he enjoys “absolute immunity” from liability in all three civil lawsuits brought against him and says his remarks outside the White House before the crowds descended on Capitol Hill were political speeches protected by the First Amendment. During this speech, Trump urged attendees of the “Save America” rally at the Ellipse to “fight like hell” and walk to Capitol Hill “to make their voices heard in a peaceful and patriotic manner.” .
“We’re not on the outer perimeters here. We’re at the center of immunity, because a president still has the power to say whether any of the other branches can or should frankly take action,” Jesse Binnall, the Trump’s lawyer, told Mehta on Monday, adding that the president, in his remarks, referred to Congressional action – the Electoral College’s vote count – which is “at a standstill” from the president’s official duties.
“Look at the type of act that was carried out,” Binnall explained, “Speak[ing] to the American people … giving a speech is something presidents do, “noting that the words themselves are not at issue here, but the forum in which they were spoken.
Mehta asked Binnall how far the limits of presidential immunity extend and where to draw the line, asking if there was “anything a president could say or do in his capacity as a candidate that would not benefit no immunity?
Binnall said he couldn’t think of an example and instead argued that the appropriate remedy for Trump’s actions surrounding Jan.6 was impeachment, which was pursued by the House and ended with his acquittal by the Senate.
“They don’t have another bite of the apple with these questions,” he said, adding that executive immunity “must be broad”.
But Joseph Sellers, who has advocated on behalf of Democratic lawmakers and Capitol Hill police officers, told Mehta that Trump was engaged in “purely private actions” on January 6 and therefore could not be immune from the civil lawsuits.
“There is absolutely no legitimate role in fomenting an insurgency directed against Congress,” Sellers said of the role presidential immunity plays in legal protection.
Mehta, however, noted that during his remarks to the White House, Trump addressed the integrity of the election, a “matter of public interest.” It is within the capacity of a president, he said, to speak to the public on such matters.
“Why isn’t it something that is downright something he has immunity for?” Mehta asked, later pointing to a Nixon-era Supreme Court ruling that bars courts from reviewing a president’s motives.
Sellers explained that those who sued the president were not focusing on his motives, but rather on the words he spoke on January 6.
Lawyers for the former president have categorically argued that their client had done nothing illegal.
“The only people who have committed obvious illegal acts are the real people who made their way to Capitol Hill,” they said.
Still, the judge later pointed out that some of Trump’s last words were “‘go to Capitol Hill'” and asked why this language was not linked to the attack on Capitol Hill that followed.
“We are not talking about an ordinary protest here,” Mehta said.
Trump’s lawyers reiterated that it was “very, very clear” that he wanted everyone to act “peacefully and patriotically.”
But Mehta lifted the silence of the former president as the crowd of her, which led to the evacuation of lawmakers and a pause in proceedings, and questioned whether that was enough to “plausibly infer that the president was okay with the conduct” of the rioters.
“What should I do about the fact that the president did not report the conduct immediately?” ” He asked.
Arguing that Trump’s remarks were protected by the First Amendment, Binnall said the president’s remarks reached “no level of violence.”
“Here you have a political dialogue using very calm words in the political dialogue and then you have the reaction … after the fact by third parties,” he said. “It’s not something that ever becomes actionable based on the words at play here, which are not calls for violence.”
The sellers, however, argued that Trump’s comments could not be isolated from the January 6 rally alone, as he was “beating the drums of cheating, cheating, cheating” in the weeks leading up to the ‘insurrection.
“You have to look at the larger context,” he said.
In his lawsuit against Trump, Swalwell accuses former President Giuliani, Trump Jr. and Brooks of violating federal civil rights laws and DC law by spreading false allegations of electoral fraud and other behavior that has led to violence on the Capitol on January 6.
Brooks, like Trump, is tooof Swalwell’s trial, arguing that he was acting within the scope of his job as a member of the House when he addressed the White House before the attack on Capitol Hill. The Ministry of Justice has already de Brooks to represent him in the case, claiming that his appearance at the Jan. 6 rally was “campaign activity” and that incitement to insurgency is not within the scope of his job.
The House Democratic group, meanwhile, claim that Trump and Giuliani violated the Ku Klux Klan law, a reconstruction-era law that prohibits two or more people from conspiring to “prevent, by force, intimidate or threaten any official to perform their duties. official functions. Lawmakers argue that Trump and Giuliani, along with the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, instigated the crowd in a “carefully coordinated campaign” to interfere with the Electoral College vote count confirmation process.
Jon Mosely, who represents the Oath Keepers in the lawsuit, told CBS News in a statement that read in part, “Judge Mehta is very scholar and scholar. I don’t think one can say how he is going to rule. from the hearing because he asks difficult questions of both parties. “
In the third complaint filed by Capitol Hill Police officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, Trump is accused of triggering the January 6 assault with his repeated baseless allegations of voter fraud. The two officers say they suffered physical and emotional injuries as a result of the riot and seek compensatory damages of $ 75,000 each, as well as punitive damages in an unspecified amount.
Trump’s conduct on the approach and on January 6 led the House tofor inciting insurgency following the assault, making him the only president to be deposed twice. The Senate, however, of the charge of impeachment.
A select House committee is conducting its own investigation into the events surrounding the assault on Capitol Hill and has requested files from Trump’s White House, sparking a legal battle led by the former president. Assetlast month to intervene to prevent the National Archives from disclosing the documents to House investigators, but judges have yet to act on his request.
Monday’s hearing also comes less than a week after other law enforcement officers who responded to the January 6 attack.. Two officers from the Metropolitan Police Department and two officers from the Capitol Police allege in their lawsuits that “Trump’s words and conduct before and on January 6, 2021 … demonstrated a willful disregard and reckless disregard for” the safety of citizens. agents.