Trump: Trump can be sued for damages from Jan. 6 riots, Justice Department says

WASHINGTON: Former President Donald Asset can be sued by injured Capitol police officers and Democratic lawmakers during the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising at the U.S. Capitol, the Justice Department said Thursday in a federal court case testing Trump. legal vulnerability for his speech before the riot.
The Justice Department told a federal appeals court in Washington in a legal filing that it should allow the lawsuits to go ahead, rejecting Trump’s argument that he is immune to criminal charges. complaints.
The department said it takes no position on the lawsuits’ claims that the former president’s remarks incited the attack on Capitol Hill. Nevertheless, justice lawyers told the court that a president would not be protected by “absolute immunity” if his words were found to be “inciting imminent private violence”.
“As head of the nation and head of state, the president has ‘extraordinary power to speak to his fellow citizens and on their behalf,’ they wrote. “But that traditional function is that of public communication and persuasion, not incitement to imminent private action violence.”
The brief was filed by attorneys in the Justice Department’s Civil Division and does not affect a separate criminal investigation being conducted by a department’s special counsel into whether Trump can be criminally charged in connection with the efforts to quash President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election before the Capitol. riot. In fact, the lawyers note that they take no position on the potential criminal liability of Trump or anyone else.
Trump’s lawyers argued he was acting within the bounds of his official duties and had no intention of instigating violence when he called on thousands of supporters to “march to the Capitol” and “fight like a devil” before the riot broke out.
“The actions of the rioters do not strip President Trump of his immunity,” his lawyers wrote in court documents. “As January 6 approached and on the day itself, President Trump was indeed acting within the framework of an ordinary presidential action when he engaged in an open discussion and debate on the integrity of the 2020 election. ”
A Trump spokesperson said Thursday that the president “repeatedly called for peace, patriotism and respect for our men and women in law enforcement” on January 6 and that the courts “should rule in favor of President Trump at short notice and dismiss these frivolous lawsuits.”
The case is among many legal issues Trump faces as he mounts another bid for the White House in 2024.
A Georgia prosecutor has investigated whether Trump and his allies broke the law as they tried to reverse his election loss in that state. Trump is also the subject of a federal criminal investigation over top-secret documents found at his Florida estate.
In the separate investigation into efforts by Trump and his allies to keep the Republican president in power, Special Counsel Jack Smith subpoenaed former Vice President Mike Pence, who said he would fight the assignment.
Trump is appealing a decision by a federal judge in Washington last year tossing out the former president’s efforts to dismiss civil conspiracy suits filed by lawmakers and police. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled that Trump’s words at a rally before the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol were likely “incitement words not protected by the First Amendment.”
“Only in the most extraordinary of circumstances could a court fail to recognize that the First Amendment protects a president”the speech“, wrote Mehta in his decision of February 2022. “But the court thinks it is this case.”
One of the lawsuits, filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-California, alleges that “Trump directly incited the violence at the Capitol that followed and then watched with approval as the building was overrun.” Two other lawsuits were also filed, one by other House Democrats and another by Officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby.
The House Democrats’ lawsuit cites a federal civil rights law that was enacted to counter Ku Klux Klan intimidation of public officials. The cases detail how Trump and others spread baseless allegations of voter fraud, both before and after the declaration of the 2020 presidential election, and accuse of helping to anger the thousands of rioters before they storm the Capitol.
The lawsuits seek damages for the physical and emotional injuries suffered by the plaintiffs during the insurgency.
Even if the appeals court agrees that Trump can be sued, those who filed the lawsuit still face an uphill battle. They would need to show there was more than heated rhetoric, but a direct and intentional call for impending violence, said Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School and a former federal prosecutor.
“We are really far from knowing that even if the court allows the lawsuit to go ahead, if it will succeed,” she said. “Even if the court hypothetically says you can sue a president, I think they’ll probably draw a very generous line for the president’s protected conduct.”
In its filing, the Justice Department warned that “the court must be careful not to adopt rules that would unduly chill legitimate presidential communication” or burden a president with onerous and intrusive lawsuits.
“In carrying out their traditional communications duties, presidents routinely address controversial issues that are the subject of heated feelings,” the department wrote. “Presidents can sometimes use strong rhetoric. And some who hear that rhetoric can overreact, even overreact.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GreenLeaf Tw2sl