Trump Can Be Sued Over Injuries, Damages Sustained During Jan. 6 Capitol Riots, Justice Department Says

Donald Trump
Donald Trump boarding his private jet last month to visit Ohio train derailment site in East Palestine.Getty

Former President Trump can be sued for civil damages over the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, the Justice Department has ruled.

Former President Donald Trump can be sued in civil court over his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, the Justice Department said Thursday.

The former president doesn't have absolute immunity from three civil lawsuits accusing him of inciting the violent attacks in 2021, the department's civil division said. Federal prosecutors had been asked by judges on the Washington, D.C., federal appeals court to weigh in on Trump's claim he was immune from civil lawsuits.

"No part of a President’s official responsibilities includes the incitement of imminent private violence," department lawyers said in the appeals court filing. "By definition, such conduct plainly falls outside the President’s constitutional and statutory duties."

A three-judge panel of the appeals court will rule whether the civil lawsuits can continue. Oral arguments were heard in December, but the panel asked for an opinion from the Justice Department.

Congress members and U.S. Capitol Police officers sued Trump after the riots, claiming his fiery remarks on the White House Ellipse on Jan. 6 to hundreds of supporters incited the mob to violence.

Nearly 1,000 people have been criminally charged since the attacks, when mobs stormed the Capitol and rampaged through hallways and congressional offices. The attack halted voting to certify the 2020 election results and sent Congress members, then-Vice President Mike Pence, and their staff members running for safety.

Trump’s lawyers have urged the appeals court to throw out the lawsuits, claiming his speech that day was part of his presidential duties.

“The underlying question here is simple: Is a president immune from civil liability when he or she gives a speech on a matter of public concern? The answer is undoubtedly, yes,” Trump's attorneys said.

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