Lawyers for former President Donald Trump are urging a federal appeals court to rule that he cannot be sued for alleged incitement to the 2021 US Capitol riots, as he is completely immune from such charges.
As the Jan. 6 House of Representatives committee investigates his role in the attack on the Capitol and the Justice Department conducts a wide-ranging criminal investigation, the former president’s attorneys are trying to protect him from civil lawsuits being filed by Democratic congressmen and two U.S. capitols Police officers said they were injured during the siege.
US District Court Judge Amit Mehta withdrew some of those lawsuits in February but declined to dismiss them all. The judge ruled that Mr Trump was not immune from civil charges and that he was standing as a candidate and not performing any of the duties of office while speaking at a pre-riot rally.
In a brief filed this week, Trump’s attorneys asked the appellate courts of the United States Supreme Court for the District of Columbia to find that the judge erred in concluding that courts should consider the substance of a president’s statements when deciding whether to grant immunity is applicable. “Investigating the content of a tweet or speech constitutes an intrusion on executive power,” they said.
They relied heavily on a 1982 decision by the Supreme Court, which dismissed a lawsuit filed against President Nixon, ruling that presidents are immune from lawsuits for even acts on the “outer fringes” of their official duties. Trump’s pre-riot speech falls into this category, his lawyers said.
By questioning the results of the election in the weeks leading up to January 6 and on the day itself, Trump exercised a presidential ability to use the bully pulpit and was “engaged in open discussion and debate about the integrity of the election 2020 involved”. Said.
“The actions of the rioters do not strip President Trump of immunity,” they added.
Rejecting the same argument in February, Judge Mehta said the rally speech was “a bit like telling an excited mob that corn dealers are starving the poor outside the corn dealer’s house.” The judge said a later tweet attacking Vice President Mike Pence during the attack on the Capitol indicated a “tacit understanding” with the rioters.
Trump’s actions “are not related to his duties to faithfully execute the law, conduct foreign policy, command the armed forces, or direct the executive branch,” Mehta said. “They solely concern his efforts to remain in office for a second term. These are unofficial acts.”
House Democrats were the first to sue the former president. They said the Capitol riot was “the intended and foreseeable culmination of a carefully coordinated campaign to disrupt the judicial process needed to confirm the count of votes cast in the Electoral College.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., was originally the lead plaintiff but withdrew from the case after becoming chairman of the House committee investigating the riots. Ten House Democrats remain in the lawsuit. Two other lawsuits were filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., and the two police officers. Trump also faces five other civil lawsuits based on similar allegations.
Trump’s attorneys asked the appeals court to hear their appeal orally. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit have not yet responded.
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-presses-claim-legal-immunity-jan-6-lawsuits-rcna40435 Trump is asserting his claim for legal immunity from Jan. 6 lawsuits