Federal Judge Challenges Trump’s Request for ‘Absolute Immunity’ in Capitol Riot Lawsuits

A federal judge recently questioned former President Trump’s declaration that he deserves “absolute immunity” against the civil lawsuits accusing him of instigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

In a recent hearing, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta expressed his skepticism towards Trump’s claim that the lawsuits brought by Democratic lawmakers and U.S. Capitol Police officers should be dismissed. The former GOP commander in chief believes that the speech and actions of presidents while in office are totally safeguarded from civil action

“Is there anything the president could say while president of the United States that could subject him to civil suits?” said Mehta.

Trump’s lawyer Jesse Binnall said that he couldn’t think of any hypothetical example that would be exempt from the immunity.

“It’s a purposely hard road to hoe, because the duties of the president are all-encompassing. When that person holds the office, for that term of office, what a president does is constantly part of being the sole person responsible for the executive branch of government,” Binnall said. 

The lawsuits were brought against Trump and several members of his inner circle as well as groups of his fanatics followers. One was brought in by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and another by Rep. Bennie Thompson [D-Miss.]. Chair of the House select panel probing Jan. 6 incident.

U.S. Capitol Police officers James Blassingame, and Sidney Hemby filed a third lawsuit. They argue that Trump should be held responsible for the damage inflicted on the rioters.

Other defendants include Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his son Donald Trump Jr. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) alongside right-wing groups Proud Boys, Oath Keepers.

Trump is being sued by the House Democrats for violating a 1871 civil rights law called the “Ku Klux Klan Act.” This law was intended to combat hate groups’ violence and intimidation towards voters during Reconstruction.

The lawmakers claim that Trump and his fellow defendants “conspired to prevent, by force, intimidation and threats” against Congress in their task to confirm Biden as president.

Plaintiffs refer to the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” protest, which took place just prior to the attack on the Capitol. In this rally, Trump and others exhorted Trump’s supporters to fight Congress’s certification of the 2020 elections, citing unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud that corrupted the results.

Trump is trying to have the suits dismissed. The former president’s team argues that Trump’s comments during the rally are immune from civil action because he was performing the normal duties of president, which is speaking to followers about government issues. 

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