Trump wants court to declare he has ‘absolute immunity’ in Jan 6 civil suits

Trump’s lawyers have sought dismissal of the possibility of civil suits against former president

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Friday 29 July 2022 14:46 BST
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Former president Donald Trump has asked a court to rule that he has "absolute immunity" in all civil suits related to the Capitol riots that took place on 6 January last year.

In a brief filed with the US Court of Appeals, Mr Trump's lawyer has urged the court to reverse the February ruling by judge Amit Mehta, which denied a motion to dismiss lawsuits related to the attack on Capitol.

Citing presidential immunity, Mr Trump's lawyers have sought dismissal of the possibility of civil suits against him entirely, Politico reported.

In his 112-page opinion, Judge Mehta had said that the president’s rally speech on 6 January 2021 that preceded the assault “can reasonably be viewed as a collective action.” His opinion determined that arguments in several lawsuits are “plausible” in their allegations that the former president’s “words at the rally sparked what followed”.

Mr Trump is facing civil suits running parallel to Congress's own inquiry into his effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which led to the insurrection.

Judge Mehta’s ruling followed several civil suits against Mr Trump under the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, a civil rights statute that bars the use of “force, intimidation, or threat” to infringe on people’s rights to vote, hold office, testify in court and serve on a jury.

"President Trump is shielded by absolute presidential immunity because his statements were on matters of public concern and therefore well within the scope of the robust absolute immunity afforded all presidents," his lawyers said in a filing on Wednesday.

"No amount of hyperbole about the violence of 6 January 2021, provides a basis for this Court to carve out an exception to the constitutional separation of powers."

His legal team further argued that impeachment is the only way to punish a president and similar attempts by the Democrats to sue Mr Trump had failed.

"A Democratic-controlled House of Representatives already brought impeachment charges against president Trump for allegedly inciting an insurrection on 6 January 2021. Their effort failed, and president Trump was acquitted.

"These further lawsuits are an attempt to thwart that acquittal, and it is just this type of harassment that presidential immunity is meant to foreclose."

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