Donald Trump can be sued over claims that he incited violence on Jan. 6, 2021, an appeals court ruled Friday, rejecting the former president’s argument that he is entirely immune from being held liable for incendiary remarks that preceded the attack on the Capitol.
The three-judge panel concluded that Trump’s actions as a candidate for president would not automatically be protected by “presidential immunity,” turning aside Trump’s sweeping argument that nearly all speech and conduct by an incumbent president should be shielded from lawsuits, including several brought by members of Congress and injured police officers.
“When a first-term President opts to seek a second term, his campaign to win re-election is not an official presidential act,” wrote Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. “The Office of the Presidency as an institution is agnostic about who will occupy it next. And campaigning to gain that office is not an official act of the office.”
However, the appeals court left the door open for continued efforts by Trump to try to prove that he was acting as president, rather than as a candidate for reelection, when he addressed the angry crowd at the Ellipse.
The ruling, which Trump could challenge at the Supreme Court, is likely to reverberate in the federal criminal case where Trump is charged with seeking to subvert the 2020 election. Trump has also contended that he is immune from prosecution in that case by arguing his efforts were connected to his official duties. [Continue reading…]