HomePoliticalTrump Can Be Sued for Jan. 6 Insurrection, Justice Department Argues

Trump Can Be Sued for Jan. 6 Insurrection, Justice Department Argues

Trump has maintained that because he is the president, he is exempt from prosecution for the uprising.

The Justice Department argued on Thursday that former President Donald Trump is not exempt from legal responsibility for the violent insurrection that occurred on January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol.

The department asked an appeals court to reject the former president’s claim of “absolute immunity” in the face of lawsuits attempting to hold him accountable for his role in the insurrection.

The Justice Department informed the court in a long-awaited brief that Trump cannot assert exemption from legal responsibility on the grounds that speech that calls for violence is outside the purview of his or her duties as president.

The Department of Justice claimed in a brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that speaking to the public about issues of public concern is a traditional role of the Presidency and that a wide range of such speech falls inside the President’s Office’s outer perimeter.

Yet, public communication is one of that traditional role. That excludes calling for impending private violence of the kind that the district court determined the plaintiffs had credibly described in their complaints.

The complaints were filed concurrently with two lawsuits from U.S. Capitol Police officers and eleven Democratic members of Congress claiming that Trump’s speech incited mob violence. Trump has said that the total immunity accorded to presidents while they are carrying out their official responsibilities shields them from legal liability.

Trump’s argument was rejected by a lower court. In its submission to the federal appeals court, the Justice Department requested the three-judge panel of appellate judges to uphold the earlier decision.

Notably, the department avoided commenting on the validity of the claims that Trump’s remarks incited violence.

“The United States expresses no opinion as to whether or not the findings in the plaintiffs’ complaints are true. However, the Justice Department stated that such encouragement of impending private violence would not fall within the purview of the Office of the President of the United States.

In its submission, the Justice Department argued that its stance shouldn’t be used to restrict a president’s speech and urged the court to make a “limited” decision.


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