Former President Donald Trump is not immune from lawsuits brought by U.S. Capitol Police officers who were injured in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as well as Democratic lawmakers who witnessed the violence that day, the Justice Department said Thursday in a federal court case.
The Associated Press reported that the DOJ told a D.C. federal appeals court that the lawsuits should move forward in a rebuke of Trump’s claim that he should be immune.
From the Associated Press: The department said it takes no position on the lawsuits’ claims that the former president’s words incited the attack on the Capitol. Nevertheless, Justice lawyers told the court that a president would not be protected by “absolute immunity” if his words were found to have been an “incitement of imminent private violence.”
“As the Nation’s leader and head of state, the President has ‘an extraordinary power to speak to his fellow citizens and on their behalf,’ they wrote. “But that traditional function is one of public communication and persuasion, not incitement of imminent private violence.”
Trump’s lawyers say he didn’t intend to spark violence when he called on thousands of supporters to “march to the Capitol” and “fight like hell” before the riot erupted that day.
“The actions of rioters do not strip President Trump of immunity,” his lawyers wrote in court papers. “In the run-up to January 6th and on the day itself, President Trump was acting well within the scope of ordinary presidential action when he engaged in open discussion and debate about the integrity of the 2020 election.”
Read the full report over at the Associated Press.