The Justice Department on Thursday urged an appeals court to reject blanket claims of presidential immunity made by former President Donald Trump in the civil litigation surrounding the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol.
The department told the appeals court — which is considering several private lawsuits filed against Trump for his conduct in the lead up to the Capitol attack — that a president cannot be absolutely immune from speaking out on a matter of public interest if it is discovered that the speech incite violence.
“No part of the official responsibilities of a president includes incitement to imminent private violence,” the Justice Department said in a friend-of-court brief that the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Washington Circuit asked the government to present.
Thursday’s report marks the first time the department has dealt directly with the question of Trump’s civil immunity for his conduct related to January 6. The lawsuits were brought by Democratic House members and Capitol Police officers.