The Civil Division of the Department of Justice offered an opinion to a federal appeals court that Trump incited the 1/6 violence and can be sued by Capitol Police and members of Congress.
The DOJ Civil Division wrote as reported by The Washington Post:
“Presidents may at times use strong rhetoric. And some who hear that rhetoric may overreact, or even respond with violence,” the Justice Department attorneys said, referencing a concern raised at oral argument. They suggested looking to another Klan-inspired court case — the 1969 ruling that speech “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action” or “likely to incite or produce such action” is not protected by the First Amendment.
“Just as denying First Amendment protection to incitement does not unduly chill speech in general, denying absolute immunity to incitement of imminent private violence should not unduly chill the President in the performance of his traditional function of speaking to the public on matters of public concern,” the attorneys wrote.
Presidents do not have absolute immunity as Trump liked to claim. Presidents can’t do whatever they want. Presidents don’t have immunity when it comes to incitement of political violence. Another interesting part of the DOJ Civil Division opinion as quoted above suggests that Trump incited the violence on 1/6.
The DOJ opinion was asked for by a federal appeals court that is weighing Trump’s immunity claims. If the court rejects Trump’s immunity claims that means that he can be sued by Capitol Police officers and 11 members of Congress for the injuries that they sustained in the attack.
The ruling is terrible news for Trump and if the appeals court agrees it could help establish some guardrails to prevent a future president from inciting political violence.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association